The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired left-wing depth in the form of Alex Galchenyuk in a Family Day trade with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Heading to Carolina is Russian prospect Egor Korshkov, who appeared in one NHL game for the Leafs in 2019-20 and scored in that game, as well as AHL veteran defenseman David Warsofsky.
While Warsofsky’s inclusion is a case of off-loading a Standard Player Contract, the cost of Korshkov is not something to entirely write off as a nothing piece in the deal; he was a unique prospect in the system with his size (6’4), and he flashed some offensive ability with the Marlies (16 goals in 44 games) and in his one appearance with the Leafs (as well as some promising camp performances). He’s also tallied 16 goals in 53 games this season in the KHL. While the situation with Covid and Korshkov spending the year in Europe meant he didn’t appear in camp this year, Korshkov looked like he could have a future with an NHL team and bring a hard-to-play-against element to a team’s fourth line if he does indeed come back overseas.
Worth noting here is that Galchenyuk cleared waivers today, meaning he can be shuffled back and forth to the taxi squad for the next 30 days without being exposed to the other 30 NHL clubs. He carried more value having cleared waivers already than he would’ve previously. He also is not bound to 14-day quarantine restrictions as he was last a part of the Senators organization before he was included in yesterday’s trade that sent Cedric Paquette to Carolina in exchange for Ryan Dzingel (Galchenyuk never crossed the Canada-U.S. border).
Toronto is the sixth stop for Galchenyuk since the former third overall pick in 2012 left Montreal for Arizona in 2017-18 as part of the Max Domi trade. He headed to Pittsburgh as part of the Phil Kessel trade the next season before spending time in Minnesota, Ottawa, and technically belonging to the Canes organization for 24 hours.
Alex Galchenyuk has now been traded 5 times in his career:
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 16, 2021
A 30-goal scorer in 2015-16 and a two-time 19-goal scorer (in his final season in Montreal and lone season in Arizona), Galchenyuk has two 50+ point seasons and two 40+ seasons to his name. With three different teams since 2019-20, however, he’s tallied just nine goals and 25 points in 67 games.
Galchenyuk has a skill set and shooting ability that belie the trajectory his career has taken over the past few years. Since rumours of off-ice and character issues plagued him in Montreal, he’s struggled to make the consistent impact required to really catch with any of his last five teams. He got off to a good early start in Ottawa, where he scored an impressive goal on the power-play, but he followed it up with too many games where you had to double-check the score sheet to see if he played.
Friend of the site, Callum Fraser, summed up Galchenyuk’s eight-game stint in Ottawa like so:
He was impressive in his first couple of games. Thought he would turn into a PP1 mainstay – wired a couple in just first game, one of them a goal, bar down – but he fizzled after that. On the power play, I specifically remember him whiffing on three perfect passes on his final game. At 5v5, he disappears too often. Think he was feeling the pressure the past few games, because he was far more aggressive and active at even strength, but not enough to save him apparently. Still carries a lot of potential, but he’s disengaged too much.
– Callum Fraser of NHL.com on Galchenyuk’s short stint in Ottawa
That last sentence has largely been the story with the 27-year-old in his recent tours around the league, and you wonder when the urgency to save his career is going to really kick in. Playing at around a 30 or 35-point pace in scoring situations isn’t good enough if the engagement level and overall impact in terms of his 200-foot play isn’t a net positive.
The Leafs will likely put Galchenyuk in a prime opportunity to succeed with their space on the left wing. Expect him to receive a few opportunities next to John Tavares and William Nylander, as well as on power-play unit #2. At a minimum, Galchenyuk should have plenty of motivation to prove two former teams of his (Montreal, Ottawa) wrong in this Canadian division.
Jimmy Vesey and Alex Barabanov have not staked a firm enough claim to a LW spot for the Leafs not to go seeking other alternatives, and the team was understandably looking to improve on its scoring depth, as it has often looked like a two-line (or one-and-a-half line) team in terms of its offensive production at 5v5.
Galchenyuk makes $1.05 million this year before he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.