May 6th, 1992, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The moon was in the seventh house, Jupiter aligned with Mars, and a child was thrust into the world that was immediately called for goaltender interference. It was the dawning of the Age of Brendan Gallagher.
What happened next is the stuff of legend. At the tender age of 16 he would join the fabled Vancouver Giants. At the slightly less tender age of 17 he would score 40 goals and 41 assists in his first year of draft eligibility. Shortly after his 18th birthday he would be selected by the Habs in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL entry draft.
As an 18 and 19-year-old, he notched 168 points in 120 games with the aforementioned Giants. He then moved to Hamilton, Ontario to don the red white and blue of the Bulldogs. After an impressive stint there, he was called upon to join the most glorious franchise of all time, the Montreal Canadiens, to partake in their lockout-shortened season, which ended up being quite successful, as he produced 28 points in 44 games.
Since making his mark during the 2012-2013 season, Gallagher has developed a reputation of being a crease-crashing, hard-shooting, play-to-the-whistle phenom. He is also a player whose constant presence in the blue paint has led to opposing goalies suffering endless nightmares.
In other words: Brendan Gallagher is the epitome of talent, hard work, and dedication.
Essentially, everyone agreed that Gallagher was Montreal's second-best player under the age of 25. Well, almost everyone. Damn it, Scott.
Top 25 Under 25 History
Gallagher's first year in the series, 2010, saw him achieve the modest rank of #24. In 2011 he jumped all the way to #14, followed by a massive climb in 2012 to the #7 spot. 2013 saw him crack the top five for the first time, and last year's ranking was identical to this year.
It's hard to find something that Gallagher is bad at.
There's no denying his natural skill. He has an above-average shot in both strength and accuracy. He has the speed and skill required to give defenders fits off the rush and in transition. He has the strength, balance and low center of gravity that enables him to win battles along the boards and in the crease. He's also the ultimate teammate. He takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin', no matter the situation, and that has endeared him to both his teammates and his fans.
Compared to the average player, he excels in nearly every metric out there no matter obscure or specialized it may be.
As you can see from the above chart, Gallagher either greatly exceeds expectations or meets them in relation to his ice time. He scores like a first-liner with the ice time of a second-liner. He is also one of the best - if not the best - at impacting his linemates' shots-on-net, which is beyond impressive.
His 11.1 controlled zone exits per 60 minutes ranks first on the team, with P.K. Subban next with 10.4 per 60, and Lars Eller rounds out the top three with 10.2 per 60.
He produced 192 individual scoring chances last season, trailing only Max Pacioretty who had 210. The next closest Habs forward is Tomas Plekanec, with 145. If you factor in the one-ice scoring chance differential, Gallagher leads the team with +68.
When it comes to high-danger scoring chances, Gallagher is Montreal's best forward, earning 91 individual high-scoring chances, with Pacioretty trailing him with 83.
It general, when discussing the Habs and their offensive prowess, all the attention is given to Pacioretty, however the fact of the matter is that Gallagher is arguably as valuable to the team. It's also worth noting that he's a perfect spark plug, and his coach knows it. Whenever the Galchenyuk-Plekanec line needed a boost, Gallagher immediately came to the rescue. Without him on the line they generally struggled.
Gallagher takes a lot of goaltender interference penalties, but to be fair that's a small price to pay for his work in the crease. That being said, his penalty difference was actually second best on the team at +6, indicating that despite his penchant for taking interference calls, he still draws more calls than he takes.
In previous years we've pointed out that Gallagher should use his shot more, and while there's still room for improvement there, he unleashed 43 more shots this year compared to the previous season.
One thing that no one can deny, is that Gallagher absorbs a lot of hits, while throwing very few. Of course, that's bound to happen when a player controls the puck for the majority of the time he's on the ice.
Truth be told, he has very few legitimate weaknesses in his game.
I hate to be cliché, but the sky really is the limit for Gallagher. He has all the tools necessary to be an incredibly effective top-six winger and I mean "incredibly effective" in every aspect of the game. He is dynamic on offense, responsible on defense, and excels at everything in between. He averaged 16:35 minutes of ice time per game along with 23.2 shifts per game. The reins are already pretty loose but if his coach loosens them just a little bit more we could see a significant jump in production. It's not a stretch to predict a 30-goal season for him as soon as this year.
His point production is already on the cusp of being a top-line forward, it just remains to be seen whether or not he can push the envelope and become one of the NHL's elite right wingers. You may think that's a lofty goal, but betting against Gallagher is never a wise move.
And lo, the tale of Brendan Adam Matthew Gallagher continues to unfold before our incredibly lucky eyes. What boundaries will he push next?