With the NHL Expansion Draft on June 21st, the Montreal Canadiens writers on Last Word on Hockey are going to go in depth to see which players the Habs should expose or protect from the Vegas Golden Knights. Here are the rules of the expansion draft if you need a refresher. With Carey Price and Jeff Petry having no-movement clauses in their contracts, they are automatically included in the protected list. For the sake of this series, the Habs will protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. Also, here is a list of players on the Habs that are exempt from the expansion draft.
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) May 1, 2017
With all that out of the way, lets look at super pest Brendan Gallagher.
Protect or Expose: Brendan Gallagher
Position: Forward (Right Wing)
Height/Weight: 5’9” 182 pounds
Cap Number: $3,750,000 – 4 years left
Why to Expose
Over the past two seasons Brendan Gallagher has missed significant time due to injury. In the 2015-2016 season Gallagher missed 29 games with two broken fingers in his right hand, suffered blocking a shot, as well as a knee injury. In 2016-2017 he again suffered two broken fingers in his right hand blocking a shot, which caused him to miss a further 18 games.
The effects of these injuries took a toll on Gallagher, who had a career worst 10 goals this season. He also had the second lowest point total of his career with 29 (one better than his rookie season, the lockout-shortened year, where he scored 15-goals and 28-points in 44 games). Gallagher’s willingness to go into difficult areas and take a beating may be starting to take a toll on his small frame.
Why to Protect
Gallagher is a true grinder. He does all the hard jobs like going into the corners to dig out the puck, going to the front of the net to distract or screen the goalie and just be an overall pest to the opposition. Gallagher is a hard working player that goes all out on every shift. Even with his small frame, he does the hard dirty work to help the Canadiens succeed. In addition to his grunt work, Gallagher is also a proven goal scorer that the Habs rely on. He is a main fixture on the top two lines and the Power Play.
Before injuries side tracked his 2015-2016 season, Gallagher was having a monster year. He was on pace for a career best 29 goals and 62 points and was tied for the team lead, with Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk, for Points per 60 with 2.07. On top of his point production, his possession metrics were fantastic. He had a 55.9% Corsi For at even strength. The possession led to high scoring chance numbers, where he controlled 52.8% of the scoring chances and 52.9% of the high danger scoring chances.
This one is pretty easy. While his recent rash of injuries is something to keep an eye on, Gallagher is way to valuable to the team to leave exposed. His 2016-2017 season was lackluster in the production department, but he still played the game with the same energy and drive he always has. I’m willing to look at his 2016-2017 season as a blip rather due to injuries than the start of a downward trend. He is just entering his prime at 25 and is one of the team leaders.
The next instalment, we will look at Alex Galchenyuk
Protected List 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, 1 goalie:
G: Carey Price (NMC)
D1: Jeff Petry (NMC)
D2: Shea Weber
F1: Max Pacioretty
F2: Brendan Gallagher
Expose: Coming Soon