Friday, February 13, 2015

Alex Galchenyuk Swatch Card

It was Alex Galchenyuk's birthday yesterday, and he celebrated by scoring the opening goal in the Montréal Canadiens' game against the Edmonton Oilers last night, which the Habs ended up losing 4-3 in overtime, despite the Oilers playing without Taylor Hall.

A little over two years after a defensemen-heavy draft, Galchenyuk and Nashville Predators rookie sensation Filip Forsberg are looking like the two most accomplished forwards of their class at the moment, but we'll see in five or ten years if that remains the case.

Still, it's very easy to love this kid, the third-overall pick in 2012. Not having the pressure to produce as a first-line center yet, he gets to learn sound positional play with Tomas Plekanec, he gets to have youthful fun with and appreciate the grit of Brendan Gallagher, and is used mostly on the wing so he gets to see how Max Pacioretty is handling being an offensive force in a place like Montréal.

And so he has improved steadily since his rookie season, increasing his playing time by two minutes per season (now averaging 16:32 per game), and already experiencing his highest goals (16), assists (20) and points (36) totals yet in just 54 games.

His #27 is one of four Habs jerseys I wear to games (with #14 Plekanec, #79 Andrei Markov and #40 Maxim Lapierre, a retro sweater - yes, I need a #76 P.K. Subban). He is fast, can create plays at top speed, and is as good a passer as he is a shooter. There is no doubt in my mind that within three years, he will be an NHL All-Star and legitimate first-line center.

I read in a few places that he has enough upside to join the elite - and while that's true, it's not like the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Getzlaf are just going to sit idly by and wait for him to take their mantle; I'd be fully satisfied if he became a 65-80-point man who can play on both the powerplay and penalty kill.

The European-raised Milwaukee native will undoubtedly also have a shot at international success with Team USA, with whom he already has gold (2013 World Juniors) and bronze (2013 World Championships) medals.

It will surely be an interesting ride.

Here he is wearing the Habs' white (now-away) uniform, from Panini's 2013-14 Titanium set (card #RG-AG of the Rookie Gear sub-set, part of the Dual Rookie Class), with a red event-worn swatch:

 You have no idea how happy I was to pull this card. It made the rest of my purchases last year worth it.

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