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2013-14 Montreal Canadiens Season Preview - Alex Galchenyuk

It's that time of year. The preseason is over, the regular season begins tomorrow, so what can we expect from Alex Galchenyuk in the 2013-14 season?

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Not many people thought that Alex Galchenyuk would even make the NHL roster last season, not even Michel Therrien. Therrien was quoted many times before the season began, saying that if Galchenyuk wasn't going to be playing more than 13 minutes a game, he would be sent back to junior. As it happened, Galchenyuk ended up playing just 12:19 per game, yet in that time he still managed to lead all rookies in even-strength points per game.

Among players who played 500 or more even-strength minutes, Galchenyuk finished seventh in even-strength points per minute played, sandwiched between Taylor Hall and Max Pacioretty. That's some lofty company for an 18-year-old rookie who missed his entire draft year with a torn ACL.

Habs fans were expecting to see a lot from Galchenyuk, but what they saw was more than they expected. Galchenyuk isn't just the playmaking center that scouts told us about, although he is very good at that, he's a net-driving possession beast who puts shots on goal at a pretty solid pace. His defensive skills and instincts are excellent, though he needs some polishing there, but he looks in every way to be the franchise center that Montreal has craved since the departure of Vincent Damphousse.

We have far less data to work with for Galchenyuk, but that doesn't mean we can't take a look.

In the following graph, the blue line is Galchenyuk's even-strength Fenwick percentage in 2013, the red line is his team's even strength Fenwick percentage without him on the ice, and the green line is Galchenyuk's offensive zone start percentage, giving us insight into his usage and role. All statistics are at even-strength, and all are rolling ten-game averages. What this means is that aside from the first 10 points in the graph, every point represents a 10 game sample, giving us a better grasp of trends.

With all that information on one graph, it can look a little messy and be tough to decipher, so I've included trend lines for each statistic. To understand the trend lines, blue turns into black, red turns into yellow, and green turns into purple. The x-axis is simply the games to represent time, and the y-axis is the percentage in decimal form, and the placement of the y-axis is the beginning of the 2013 season.

[click for high resolution]

What we can see from the 48 games that Galchenyuk has played in the NHL has relatively little predictive power, but there are a few observations that we can make.

Galchenyuk was broken into the NHL as lightly as Therrien could manage, and midway through the season he was tried in tougher minutes while the team was really on a role. he passed that test with flying colours, but was put back into an exploitation role to generate offense down the stretch when the team was struggling. This was pretty savvy by Therrien, as I'm sure you remember that when he put together Galchenyuk, Lars Eller, and Brendan Gallagher, they were dynamite in the last month. Galchenyuk finished the year with 12 points in 13 games.

Galchenyuk's production was partly inflated by a high on-ice shooting percentage last year, but he strikes me as the kind of player who will boost his teammates a bit in that regard, so while there may be a bit of a regression on a per minute basis, increased ice time and more powerplay time should have him on track to improve on last season's point production, not to mention playing on a superior line (Sorry Prusty).

It's impossible to predict what kind of points Galchenyuk is going to accumulate next season with this little information, but edging towards 20 goals and 50 points is likely a conservative estimate.

Check out the rest of the season preview.