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Alex Galchenyuk signs a three-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens

After months of trade talk, the Canadiens have their top offensive centre under contract for the next few years.

Arizona Coyotes v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

There was a time in this off-season when it seemed a foregone conclusion that Alex Galchenyuk’s days with the Montreal Canadiens were over. But the two sides have agreed on a contract extension that will run for the next three years.

He will be an unrestricted free agent when the contract expires.

The possibility of a sign-and-trade still exists, but now that he’s under contract there’s little reason to force such a transaction.

Galchenyuk’s 2016-17 season was widely regarded as a disappointment because he failed to secure the top-line centre role. One of his most vocal critics was his own general manager, as Marc Bergevin expressed his displeasure with his former first-round selection at the end of the playoffs.

Despite the criticism, he still produced 44 points without a stable deployment, shifting lines and even positions over the course of the year, while also recovering from a knee injury. His 2.66 points per 60 minutes of ice time (in all situations) ranked 37th among NHL forwards, and was the best mark on the team.

With one of the strongest groups of wingers in the league, Galchenyuk’s best value to the team will come from playing a centre role. To do that he will need to work on his defensive and puck-protection games, and that’s where his focus — and that of the coaching staff — should lie when training camp begins.