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The pros and cons of the Alex Galchenyuk contract

It’s a shorter contract than we were expecting, but it works for both parties

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

When the three-year contract with Alex Galchenyuk was announced, many people celebrated. Others were concerned about the length of the contract.

Those who didn’t like the length of the contract pointed to Jonathan Drouin’s contract where he received three more years and $600,000 more per season. Without being a part of the negotiations, you can assume that if Galchenyuk and his agent Pat Brisson would have wanted that contract, it would have been signed.

Marc Bergevin would not trade three years for $600,000. It’s not enough.

Galchenyuk was probably looking for at least $6 million per season in a long term deal, if not more. This contract was a compromise, and it works for both parties.

Galchenyuk is betting on himself. He will be an unrestricted free agent once the contract expires. If he becomes a No. 1 centre, the suitors will line up like they did for Steven Stamkos and like they are doing for John Tavares.

Many people are concerned that a second short contract means that the team will suffer in the long run.

In three years, the landscape of this team can, and probably will, be very different.

The Canadiens only have seven players signed up to the 2020-21 season: Drouin, Brendan Gallagher, Andrew Shaw, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Karl Alzner, and Carey Price. Four of those players will be 31 or older. Of course, Max Pacioretty will likely be signed as well, and that means five of the eight will be over 31.

People are already worried that Galchenyuk will leave at the end of this contract. We can expect the Canadiens to still be a good team in three years, but we will know a lot more as the seasons pass. If they prove that this core can contend, led by Galchenyuk, he will likely want to stay. If the core of this team changes, Galchenyuk could want out.

Truth be told, if the core proves they cannot contend, it’s likely that neither Galchenyuk nor Bergevin will still be with the Canadiens.

Either of those things could happen even if we don’t have all the answers.

But where this deal is a major boon to Montreal is in the next three years. They have a top-line player (whether on the wing or at centre) making under $5 million. Almost the entirety of their top six will be making less than $5M, and the one who is over that is earning $5.5 million. It’s exactly the type of team you need to have when you’re about to have a goaltender making $10.5 million per season.

With mostly everybody signed for this season, the Canadiens still have $9.16 million in cap space. In a league where cap space is an asset, that opens up a litany of possibilities. That’s room for an Andrei Markov or another puck moving defenceman. It’s room for another top-six forward.

Even next year, when Price starts his mega extension, they will have a bunch of flexibility. If the cap stays flat, they will have $17 million available with only Phillip Danault of their core on an expiring contract.

The priority for the Canadiens, even before this contract, needs to be the next few seasons. They don’t need to trade all of their draft picks and prospects, but Galchenyuk’s contract, at this value, gives them ample opportunity to fill in other pieces of the puzzle.

It does raise questions in three years, but the benefits it provides now cannot be ignored.