I know we’re only three games into his Toronto Maple Leafs’ career, but the Alex Galchenyuk experiment seems to be working. Is it possible that Galchenyuk might have found a team where he fits in well?
So far, with the Maple Leafs, Galchenyuk seems to be both playing well and adding value to a position where the team really needs value – as a partner with both John Tavares and William Nylander on the Maple Leafs’ second line.
Galchenyuk Starts on Fourth Line, But Moves to Top-Six
During the game on Saturday, Galchenyuk was moved to the fourth line so that Wayne Simmonds could show what he might do on the second line. However, when he was moved up to the top-six things started to roll. He not only produced himself, but he did something far more important – he made his line partners better. That’s something the team has needed for a while.
When I watched the highlight videos of the game, what I saw was that Galchenyuk seemed to be in the middle of every one of them. On the night, he registered two assists in Maple Leafs 4-3 overtime victory over a strong Edmonton Oilers’ squad.
For the entire 2020-21 season, the Maple Leafs have been shuffling players in and out of the lineup trying to find a match for Tavares and Nylander. Then, after only three games, Galchenyuk has shown some chemistry with both Tavares and Nylander that others have not.
We Are Learning that Galchenyuk Isn’t Lazy
Galchenyuk is an interesting case; and, perhaps it’s just me, but when you have a player with such high-end talent who sort of falls down the ranks I have a tendency to think he’s gotten a bit lazy. However, Galchenyuk’s history suggests that isn’t the case. In researching this post, I read an article from two years ago that quoted Galchenyuk’s offseason trainer when he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc Megna in Miami, who was a former professional football player). In 2019, Megna posted a video of the then-Penguins’ player’s workouts to his Instagram account.
As Megna noted then about Galchenyuk, “So much sacrifice, time and hard work put in by (Galchenyuk) this off-season … He’s without a doubt one of the hardest workers I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”
Jake Muzzin Confirms Galchenyuk’s Work Ethic
Then we have Jake Muzzin, who yesterday noted that Galchenyuk was the hardest-working player on the team. So what we know is that Galchenyuk was hard-working two years ago and continues to be hard-working today. He’s not a prima donna. That work ethic speaks something to players like Muzzin, who values hard work. Muzzin also notes that he’s inspired by the Maple Leafs’ newcomer.
Other than Muzzin’s comments, which I count as a good thing, two other good things happened to solidify Galchenyuk’s position with the team. Second, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe reported that he’d watched Galchenyuk on video (in slow motion) and he’d seen some impressive things he’d missed watching and coaching the game from the bench.
Finally, and third, in an interview yesterday Tavares spoke about how good Galchenyuk was to play on a line with. That bodes well for the team. Indeed, when any player averages a point-a-game, no one will argue. Still, the jury’s out because it isn’t a large body of work.
Is Galchenyuk Found Money for the Maple Leafs?
In the Sportsnet’s video below, Shawn McKenzie and Chris Johnston talked about a number of topics on Sunday after the Maple Leafs’ practice, including the injury status of goalie’s Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell, and the recent play of Galchenyuk.
Chris Johnston Believes Galchenyuk Might Be the Player the Team’s Been Seeking
During the interview, the twosome noted that Maple Leafs’ fans have had a bit of a chance to see what kind of high-end talent Galchenyuk does have and that, although it’s too early to say for certain, the newcomer seems like “found money” for the team. The team will have to be patient with his progress with the team, but so far so good.
What’s interesting as Johnston notes is that right now Maple Leafs’ general manager is “working the phones starting to fill (the position Galchenyuk’s been playing on the second line) by trade right now.”
Johnston added that, “Who knows how things work out? Maybe he’s (Dubas) already made that trade they want to get Galchenyuk from the Carolina Hurricanes.” At worst Johnston noted that he thinks “it was a sound bet on Galchenyuk because of what he’s been through and what he’s done in his career … so far there’s some pretty good things to be excited about for the Leafs organization.”
Finally, Johnston noted that the Maple Leafs clearly “have someone that might be an asset for them, especially on a team with so many high-end players.” It might be a good thing that Galchenyuk doesn’t have “to carry the line, he’s just gotta be part of what’s going on there.”
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