Marc Bergevin

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Canadiens looking to spark, not ‘bury’ Alex Galchenyuk after move to fourth line


Alex Galchenyuk won’t be playing center for the Montreal Canadiens this year. At least that’s what general manager Marc Bergevin said last month just before training camp opened up.

Wanting to ease the drama around the Galchenyuk’s place in the lineup, Bergevin’s statement was odd given how thin the Habs are down the middle, even with the acquisition of Jonathan Drouin.

Through four games, the 23-year-old Galchenyuk has zero points and eight shots on goal while grabbing 16:21 of ice time. And after playing 18 minutes in Montreal’s opening two games, he saw a little over 14 minutes in losses to the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.

Head coach Claude Julien has his hands full trying to spark a listless Canadiens offense that’ is averaging a goal per game through four games and is also dead last in even strength goals (two). Unlocking Galchenyuk is certainly one issue of many that the team is trying to solve.

Galchenyuk, who signed a three-year, $14.7 million extension over the summer, found himself on the fourth-line during Wednesday’s practice with Torrey Mitchell and Ales Hemsky, a move Julien is hoping will help the forward find his scoring touch again.

“Alex is having a tough start,” said Julien on Friday. “With the amount of ice time he’s had on the power play and everything else it just doesn’t seem like he’s getting scoring chances right now. I have to do what I have to do as a coach and it’s certainly not indicative of him only because there’s other guys that we think can help produce as well and they’re not.”

Averaging 3:49 of power play time (third-most on the Habs), Galchenyuk, who missed Friday’s practice with the flu, has generated four shots, tied with Jonathan Drouin just behind team leader Max Pacioretty (six).

“I think with him, as usual when you have Hemsky on your right side you’re not playing with guys who have no skill,” Julien said. “So it’s not about a situation where we’re trying to bury him. I think it’s just a situation where we need to make decisions and move players around for the time being to get us going in the right direction.”

According to Left Wing Lock, Galchenyuk has played nearly 20 percent of the time with Andrew Shaw and Phillip Danault at even strength. That hasn’t worked, so why would bumping him down the lineup be the ideal situation? He might get the ice time against an opponents’ lesser lines, but Hemsky and Mitchell haven’t created much where they’ve played with two shots combined between them.

Despite the struggle to find a regular home for Galchenyuk within the Canadiens’ lineup, this is no time for Bergevin to give up on his young forward. History hasn’t been kind to teams who have done that.

As Arpon Basu of The Athletic noted earlier this week, Galchenyuk is Julien’s new Tyler Seguin: a young, talented player who’s struggling to find consistency. The Boston Bruins could certainly use a Seguin in their lineup right now while the Dallas Stars are enjoying the fruits of a team not showing enough patience.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.


Poll: Is Therrien the right coach for Montreal?


Gauging a Montreal Canadiens coach can be a tricky endeavor.

For one thing, you must consider the expectations that come inherent with being the bench boss of a franchise that has won a record 24 Stanley Cups.

It’s not about excellence alone, however, as management acknowledged years ago that their head coach probably needs to speak French.

“Although our main priority remains to win hockey games and to keep improving as a team, it is obvious that the ability for the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of the permanent head coach,” Team president Geoff Molson said in a statement back in 2011.

Some hoped that the Habs would part ways with Michel Therrien after the team’s second-round exit to the Tampa Bay Lightning, yet GM Marc Bergevin stood idle.

Back in April, The Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd mocked those who yearn for a replacement:

Has the coach of a 110-point team that finished second overall in the league, a team coming off an Eastern Conference final, ever faced so much heat at home? Doubtful. There is a strange reluctance to embrace Therrien here, despite three consecutive outstanding seasons on his watch.

One might break down the arguments in three different ways:

1) Therrien is the best fit, period.

2) Therrien is the best fit considering Montreal’s Francophone requirements.

3) Therrien is not the best fit.

It’s not an especially new debate, yet it’s an intriguing one nonetheless: is Therrien the right guy for the job?

Hearing from Price and Subban ‘weighed in a lot’ on Petry’s decision


Unlike fellow pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Cody Franson, Jeff Petry had no real desire to test the open market once he was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens.

Petry, who was acquired by the Habs from the Edmonton Oilers on March 2, inked a six-year deal worth a reported $33 million on Tuesday.

“I mean it was something that never really crossed my mind. Once I started negotiating with the Canadiens, my family, my wife and I made a decision that we really strongly wanted to come back,” said Petry. “We’re just happy a deal could be made rather quickly.”

Petry said contract talks went back and forth for roughly two weeks before picking up steam yesterday and today.

During the Canadiens locker clean out day following the second round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Petry had conversations with several of his teammates. A chat with two teammates in particular went a long way in the 27-year-old re-signing in Montreal.

“Everyone was packing up and saying goodbyes for the summer,” Petry recalled. “I had a couple guys that came up to me and wish me good luck with everything that would happen over the summer, but expressed that they would really like to have me back.

“That meant a lot. Hearing from guys like (P.K.) Subban and guys like (Carey) Price, guys that play a key role on this team – hearing that from them, it weighed in a lot on the decision.”

Petry had three goals and seven points in 19 regular season games for the Habs following the trade while averaging over 22 minutes a night in ice time. He added two goals and an assist in 12 playoff games.

“He is a solid defenseman with speed and size who acquired valuable playoff experience this year,” said Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin in a statement. “Jeff is a very good fit within our group of defensemen and his presence gives us a lot of depth at this position.”

Petry’s new deal carries an annual average value of $5.5 million – a nice bump in pay from the $3.075 million he made during the 2014-15 season; however, Petry is not concerned about increased expectations next season.

“It’s something that comes with it, but when I spoke with Marc today, after signing the contract, he said the way you played coming to this team earned the contract that you’ve been given,” Petry said. “That’s something that he said shouldn’t change. He kind of stressed (not to) change your style of play because of it. Don’t let it influence the way you play.”

With Petry’s signing, the Habs now have $24.35 million tied to four defensemen for next season.

Habs sign Petry to a six-year, $33 million extension


The Montreal Canadiens have agreed to terms on a six-year contract extension with defenseman Jeff Petry the club announced on Tuesday.

According to hockey insider Pierre LeBrun, the deal is worth $33 million with an annual average value of $5.5 million.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports the deal also includes a partial no-trade clause.

“We are very happy that Jeff has agreed to remain with the Montreal Canadiens for the next six seasons,”said general manager Marc Bergevin in a statement. “To re-sign him to a new contract was one of our main off-season priorities.

“Jeff showed a tremendous will to commit to the Canadiens and stay in Montreal. He is a solid defenseman with speed and size who acquired valuable playoff experience this year. Jeff is a very good fit within our group of defensemen and his presence gives us a lot of depth at this position.”

Petry, who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Edmonton Oilers, had three goals and seven points in 19 regular season games for the Habs while averaging over 22 minutes a night in ice time.

The 27-year-old added two goals and an assist in 12 playoff games.

Following the Habs’ second round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Petry expressed his desire to remain in Montreal saying it was his first choice.

Petry would’ve become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career next month as his one-year $3.075 million deal was set to expire.

Habs deal Budaj to Jets for Tangradi


The Montreal Canadiens solved their goaltending dilemma Sunday dealing Peter Budaj to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Eric Tangradi.

Winnipeg also picked up Patrick Holland in the deal.

Budaj, 32, has spent nine seasons in the NHL with the Avalanche and Canadiens. In 296 career games, he is 124-107-36 with a 2.76 GAA and a, .903 save percentage to go along with 11 career shutouts.

Originally a sixth round pick of the Avs, Budaj had a 10-8-3 record last season backing up Carey Price, but fell out of of favor with the club as prospect Dustin Tokarski started over him in the playoffs when Price was injured.

“I would like to thank Peter Budaj who has been an outstanding teammate and stood tall for us over the past three seasons,” said GM Marc Bergevin in a statement. “This transaction enables our team to make room for Dustin Tokarski.”

As TVA’s Renaud Lavoie points out, the Habs save $838,000 with Tokaraski as the team’s backup over Budaj.

Both Budaj and Tokarski would’ve required waivers, so you can see why the trade was made.

Budaj provides Winnipeg with a solid No. 2 to push starter Ondrej Pavelec. Prior to the deal, the Jets had rookie Michael Hutchinson backing up Pavelec. Hutchinson has just three career NHL games on his resume.

Holland has spent the last two seasons with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Last season the 22-year-old had six goals and 17 points in 57 games. He also appeared in five games for the Canadiens where he was held without a point. Holland will likely report to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.

Tangradi, who cleared waivers on Saturday, will be assigned to the Bulldogs. The 25-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Jets where he scored four goals and 10 points in 91 games. Originally an Anaheim Ducks second round pick, Tangradi also appeared in 45 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins over four seasons.

“Eric Tangradi is a young veteran with 136 NHL games under his belt. He adds depth to our group up front and provides us with more options when we will need help coming from our affiliate team in Hamilton,” said Bergevin.

Jets trim roster

In a separate transaction the Jets released six players Sunday.

Ben Chiarot and Keaton Ellerby were placed on waivers while goaltender goaltender Danny Taylor was released from his professional tryout.

Winnipeg also sent Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey and Nic Petan back to their respective junior clubs.