Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Alex Galchenyuk, centre for Team USA, but left wing for les Canadiens?

It's odd that Alex will be pulled in two different directions on the Canadiens lineup vs. putatively on the Team USA lineup.

On the Canadiens, it seems decided that he'll spend another season on the wing, for three reasons.  As Michel Therrien states, he wants to reduce the 19-year-old's pressure and responsibility, and continue to ease him into the flow of the NHL, so while he may get more minutes and more powerplay time, he won't be rushed into a topline centreman role yet.

Second, the Canadiens have a thoroughly discussed glut at centre.  We have Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Lars Eller in the Top 9, with Daniel Brière as an option, he who reportedly feels more comfortable there rather than on the wing.  So Alex doesn't really have a spot there yet, he's not really needed for now.

Third, where we do need him is on the left side.  We have Max Pacioretty as a real Top 9 left-winger, and that's it.  René Bourque did well last season on the left, but again we've discussed how he had his best seasons in Calgary playing the right side.  There is no one in Hamilton who's ready to step in.  

So having Alex play left wing kills three birds, it fills a glaring organizational need on the left side, relieves the pressure on the centre position, and allows him to mature for another season, to progress with manageable assignments and minutes.

When we look at his role on Team USA though, he might be plunked down in a centre position.  With a projected roster at LW of Zach Parise, James Van Riemsdyk, Bobby Ryan, Max Pacioretty and Ryan Callaghan, there is no weakness on that side that Alex might palliate.  At centre though, the USA has Ryan Kesler, David Backes, Joe Pavelski and Derek Stefan.  A respectable group, but not necessarily the same depth as at wing.  Especially if an injury should strike, we can see how he could sneak in at centre to generate some offence, certainly as a thirteenth or fourteenth forward, one who can be injected into the lineup as a change of pace.

Also notable is that the four centres mentioned above are righties, so this is where Alex being a lefty might figure in the equation.  He's the guy to go to for draws on the right side in the offensive zone, he gives you offence and a go-to guy for the shootout, on top of Patrick Kane.  

So Alex has a chance with a great first half of the season to grab a spot on Team USA, which would be a fantastic opportunity for his development and confidence.

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