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Brendan Gallagher’s career year points to a brighter future

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The Canadiens’ sparkplug continues to put in the work in a lost season.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There’s not a lot of positive air hovering around the Montreal Canadiens these days. They’re injured, they aren’t scoring much, and the fans are looking for a player to give them some hope going forward.

A lot has been written about the strong debuts of rookies like Charles Hudon, Nikita Scherbak, and Noah Juulsen. Antti Niemi saved his career from ending on a disastrous note, and Jeff Petry seems to have found a new gear as the leader on defence. Perhaps the player who deserves the most praise in this season, however, is Brendan Gallagher, who despite his team having a miserable season, has put together a career year.

Not only did he set a new career high in goals, with his 25th against Columbus, but he’s also close to tying his career high in points. Adding to that, he’s also registered 10 opening goals this year, first among all NHL players; an impressive feat when you considered Montreal’s overall scoring woes.

Night in and night out, Gallagher is the sparkplug in the Canadiens’ lineup. When others are struggling, he puts the team on his back and tries to will them to a win.

It’s the small things in his game that help him to achieve his success. He never quits on the play and goes wherever he needs to in order to generate offence. It shows on the shot charts too, as Gallagher is one of the most crucial pieces of offence that this team has right now.

When he’s on the ice, the Canadiens are getting more chances from dangerous areas, even if they aren’t all going in. It’s a trend Montreal needs to continue as they’ve been lacking offence from those areas, outside of what Gallagher provides each shift.

We don’t know what Max Pacioretty’s future is in Montreal, and I personally would like him to remain in the organization, but I’m not the general manager of this team. Should he be traded in the off-season, Gallagher is a very good option to take over the captaincy if it were to become available. He’s got a few years left at an extremely affordable cap hit, and when his hand isn’t recovering from being injured by a blistering slapshot, he’s proven to be a highly effective goal-scorer time and time again.

Things aren’t looking overly bright in Montreal, but Gallagher being a member of this team through a likely retooling process is something fans should be excited about. If he can manage close to 30 goals in a season where few others can find any sort of consistency, imagine his numbers if players like Jonathan Drouin or Artturi Lehkonen aren’t snake-bitten or injured, or if the team does find that top-line centre its been missing.

If players rebound into form and Gallagher keeps up this play, then Montreal may be back into contending form sooner rather than later.