Segue Issue 22-03
January 25, 2022
For the third article in a series called Five Fantasies to Fix the Habs, I’m looking at Brendan Gallagher. Last week the focus was on Artturi Lehkonen and the week before that it was Ben Chiarot. Those articles (and many others) can be found at habather.wordpress.com.
Just a reminder that I’m calling them fantasies for a reason. I’m neither a GM nor an agent, so player valuation is not my forte. I will rely on suggestions made by analysts and pundits to pin down the value of various players. Then I’ll make a fantasy proposal that I think will contribute to fixing the Habs.
In creating these fantasies I’m considering two things. First, what are the biggest needs for the Habs? In my view they should be targeting a centre prospect with top-6 potential, a right-handed defenceman with top-4 potential, or a pure goal scorer. Second, which teams need what the Habs are offering the most, and would have the assets to make the best offer?
Without further ado, let’s get to Gally.
On December 17th, Marc Antoine Godin from The Athletic published an article titled “Scouts Confidential: What value might Canadiens players with term left have on the trade market?”
For the article, Marc Antoine interviewed five scouts about Habs players with term left on their contracts and sought their perception of each player’s value on the trade market. He began with a couple of caveats – firstly, scouts are not general managers and, secondly, trade value cannot be separated from the contract. Both performance and the weight of the contract were taken into consideration.
Nine players with term were discussed in the article, and one of them was Brendan Gallagher. One scout said we could expect the Canadiens to be aggressive – he was not referring to Gallagher when he said that, but can you think of any way the Habs could be more aggressive than to move Gally? Only Carey Price would signal a bigger shift.
One scout noted that as many as 25 teams would have given Gallagher the same deal, but there may not be as many willing to trade for the contract. He stated his belief that Gally was banged up rather than in rapid decline, and that in the right system with the right line-mates he can still score 30 goals. He said, “But if you put him with players who can get pucks to the front of the net, he’ll do what he does, and he’ll score 30 goals.”
Another scout did see decline and said that while the window would likely be closed for him if it was his call, he expected there would still be teams who hold him in high regard but are concerned about the contract. He said the Canadiens could likely move Gallagher without retaining on the contract. But if they were willing to retain 50%, they may get as much as a first round pick and prospect for Gallagher.
Yet another scout felt that Gallagher’s contract would make him tough to move at all.
The article from Godin is excellent, and you can read the entire thing here if you subscribe to The Athletic.
Godin is not the only guy talking about a potential Brendan Gallagher trade. Aaron Ward, on TSN690 on January 12th, said some teams would “covet” Gallagher, based on both his ability to score as well as what he brings to the table when he’s not scoring. He spoke of agitating, bringing a psychological advantage, and being able to play up and down the line up with a variety of players. Ward says Gallagher possesses qualities that are hard to find. Ward didn’t offer a specific destination or return for Gallagher, but you can hear the entire hit here.
There is lots of chatter about Gallagher, but few proposals with respect to his trade value. That’s because the contract complicates the valuation. In fact, the contract is daunting enough that an in-season trade would be very challenging to pull off. For these proposals, I’m suggesting teams I see as a fit and make proposals that make Gally’s cap hit less uncomfortable for the acquiring team.
One thing to consider with Gallagher is that he has a six-team no-trade list in his contract. Since we would only be guessing about where he prefers never to land, we can only work with the teams with a chance to win. We know Gally wants to win more than anything.
For this fantasy, I’m getting ugly. You’re not going to like it.
Option 1 – Boston Bruins
Imagine facing the Bees, and they roll out Brad Marchand on the first line and Brendan Gallagher on the second. Yikes! You hate it, but you know he is a fit in Boston. I like Gally on a line with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula. Both Hall and Haula are playmakers that can get the puck to the net for Gallagher to do what he does best.
To make that happen the salary must work, and we know the Habs prefer to take back a bad contract rather than retain on long contracts. We also know the Bruins have been ready to move on from Jake DeBrusk for months. There may be other contracts they’d just as soon be free of, like Lazar or even Foligno. Consider that the Habs can try to flip any contracts coming back while retaining.
Option 2 – Carolina Hurricanes
You thought it couldn’t get worse, didn’t you? When I think of that image of skilled players who can get the puck to the net and Gally cleaning up, I confess the team that comes to mind is the Canes. With the new executives in Montreal, there will be no ego attached to such a deal. Carolina is flush with young talent, and a veteran leader with an edge would be a great addition for them. The Habs already have their first-round pick, but there are young prospects that would appeal.
If you don’t love that deal, maybe you like this one proposed last week on Twitter. If there is any buyer’s remorse in Carolina, certainly the Habs might want to consider whether their $6M would be better spent on a young centre with upside based on the change of circumstances they have encountered.
Option 3 – Anaheim Ducks
I guess I’d better give you an option that won’t have you out for my head. The Ducks are a team that have room for Gallagher on their books. They also have a ton of expiring contracts that will be replaced by younger and cheaper assets. There is room for a veteran leader in Anaheim.
The wake-up call…
Let’s be honest. An in-season trade for Brendan Gallagher is a very long shot. As in, a Jack Armstrong “nails the three from Yellowknife” kind of long shot.
I selected three teams with general managers that I thought might appreciate Gally’s value. Is there a better fantasy partner? Feel free to drop your ideas in the comments and we can chat!