94 – Alexander Galchenyuk – Sarnia Sting

When the Columbus Blue Jackets opted to ignore the Russian talent pool and draft defenseman Ryan Murray, the Canadiens could breath a sigh of relief.   It was well known that they coveted centre Alexander Galchenyuk and they got their man with the third overall pick.

Now the question will be, “Can Galchenyuk, who missed all but two regular season games in Sarnia, jump straight to the NHL or would another year in junior hockey serve him and the Canadiens better?”  Most think that he already has the physique to play professional hockey.  The experience department is another matter which would lead one to think the Canadiens will be waiting at least a year before we see him in a regular season game.  Igor Larionov, his agent, thinks he can make the Canadiens out of training camp this year.  Consider the conflict of interest in that statement however.

The tipping point on the Canadiens decision making process probably was his performance at the draft combine in Toronto.  The Canadiens covet speed.”  In the anaerobic fitness,  peak power output test which is designed to measure a skater’s “explosiveness”, NHL.com stated that  “his high peak output could be the difference in gaining 2-3 strides on a defenseman on a breakaway.”   In other words, what we are seeing is a player with the skating potential of a Max Pacioretty.

Galchenyuk was born in Wisconsin while his hockey playing father was playing for Milwaukee of the International hockey league but then followed his father to Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Russia.  He speaks English, Russian, Italian and for his days in Sierre Switzerland,  “I used to speak French, but I forgot it.”

Outside of his performance at the scouting combine, all scouts had to go by was the 2010-2011 season where he finished second in OHL rookie scoring to Yakupov with 83 points in 68 games.

Before the season began, Yakupov and Galchenyuk were rated No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings of North American skaters.  The torn ACL in that September exhibition game put him out for all but two games of Sarnia’s regular season.  He was left off But after Galchenyuk sat out for nearly six months after tearing his ACL in an exhibition game in September, he was left off the mid-term rankings.   An indication of his potential, with only two games at the end of the season — and another six in the playoffs — he was bounced back into fifth on central scouting’s final list.

The Canadiens will have two picks in the second round of the draft which resumes at 10.00 Saturday morning.  Once again they will make the third choice (33rd overall) and then 51st overall.  They have their own picks in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds (overall 64th, 94th, 122nd and 154th).