One good rookie season isn’t enough.
Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens knows this, even after he finished last season with 15 goals and 28 points in 44 regular season games, often playing against guys much larger than his 5’9″ and 178-pound frame.
His performance was enough to make him a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. He didn’t win the award. Instead, that distinction when to Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers.
It’s still a recognition of what Gallagher accomplished in with the Habs. But it’s just one year.
He’ll return to the hockey-mad market in Montreal, where the expectations from the local fan base are sure to have grown from what they were in January.
“I don’t think I’m proven yet,” Gallagher told NHL.com on Friday.
“I think there’s still a lot left for me to accomplish in this League, so I don’t consider myself proven. I just consider last year a step in the right direction.”
The Montreal Canadiens have made an interesting move, signing defenseman Douglas Murray to a one-year deal.
The contract is worth $1.5 million, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
Murray, 33, split last season between San Jose and Pittsburgh, scoring six points in 43 games (and three in 15 playoff games). He was acquired by the Penguins at the trade deadline and saw an uptick in minutes (17:09 average TOI in San Jose; 18:30 in Pittsburgh) before falling back to around 15 minutes per night in the postseason.
Vancouver was reportedly interested in the hard-hitting blueliner, but Montreal seemed a more natural fit for Murray given the uncertainty surrounding Alexei Emelin.
Emelin, 27, tore up his knee in April after colliding with Boston’s Milan Lucic and underwent surgery in May. With his recovery projected to go into the start of the 2013-14 season — NHL.com’s Arpon Basu reports the Habs “have no definitive idea” of when Emelin will return — Montreal was in need of another physical presence (Emelin led the team in hits last year, with 110, despite missing the final 10 games of the regular season.)
At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, Murray is capable of filling the void, but there will be questions about his foot speed and skating ability, neither of which looked good during Pittsburgh’s playoff ouster to Boston.
Alex Galchenyuk proved to be a quick study at the NHL level, but the Montreal Canadiens seem content easing him into the two-way side of the game.
The Montreal Gazette passed along GM Marc Bergevin’s comments to The Hockey News regarding the team’s preference to keep the 19-year-old at the wing instead of center. (Center is his natural position.)
“It’s a difficult position for a young player,” Bergevin said. “We didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on him. We used him at center (in the 2013 season) on a few occasions and he did a good job, but we feel that, for the time being, he’s better off on the wing.”
Considering how exacting head coach Michel Therrien can be (and how young Galchenyuk is), it’s a reasonable approach.
Galchenyuk scored 27 points in 48 regular season game, registering a +14 rating. He generated three points in five postseason contests with a -4 mark.
When Maxim Lapierre hit free agency this summer, he had his heart set on one particular destination and it wasn’t St. Louis.
TVASports.com spoke with Lapierre (link in French) and finds out he did all he could to entice his old team, the Montreal Canadiens, into signing him. Here’s a poorly translated quote from the story.
“I did everything I could to get back with the Canadiens, but I did not figured in their plans,” he told the media at Hockey School Latendresse-Lapierre.
Lapierre spent the first five and a half seasons with Montreal before being traded to Anaheim on New Year’s Eve in 2010. He wound up signing a two-year deal with the Blues instead of landing back with the Habs this summer.
For a guy who doesn’t exactly have a great reputation you kind of feel bad for him that he couldn’t return home. We’ll likely forget all of that when he suits up for the Blues and finds new ways to terrorize the Central Division.
Danny Briere’s return home to Quebec has him gushing over getting to play for the team he grew up adoring.
Stu Cowan at the Montreal Gazette hears from the 35 year-old veteran who is feeling like a kid again after making his first visit to the team facilities.
“I grew up a Canadiens fan so pulling on that jersey for the first time today was special,” Briere said.
“Today was my first time in the dressing room. I’ve seen the Bell Centre a lot but it’s nice to see it from the good side.”
Briere will be donning his familiar No. 48 with the Canadiens and looking to step into a lineup that’s not lacking in offensive talent.
Montreal may not be run-and-gun the way the Flyers have been, but skating alongside Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty could help Briere get back in the goal column more often.