Pittsburgh Penguins: The clock is ticking on Alex Galchenyuk

Forward Alex Galchenyuk has been underwhelming for the Pittsburgh Penguins. A trade could be coming if he doesn’t turn things around quickly.

It is no secret that Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and his staff tend to acquire former first-round draft picks via trade or free agency. In the case of Jared McCann, it has been a great success. The same cannot be said for the 2012 3rd overall pick Alex Galchenyuk.

Per Hockey-Reference, Galchenyuk has produced an underwhelming 5 goals and 16 points in 41 games this season. Of the Penguins 12 normal forwards, his average time on ice of 12:09 per game ranks dead last. He is sparingly used on the powerplay and does not appear to be trusted by the Penguins coaching staff. It is easy to see why.

The underlying numbers are not any prettier. Courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Galchenyuk is averaging 6.45 shots for every 60 minutes of even-strength ice time, which is the second-lowest rate of his career.

Furthermore, his current rate of 0.43 goals per 60 is the lowest mark of his career. Galchenyuk’s 6.17 individual scoring chances per 60 is also the second-lowest mark of his career. All three of these go hand-in-hand. Now, he has always been more of a playmaker, but he is not shooting the puck nearly enough.

After spending the last three seasons in Montreal, Arizona, and Pittsburgh, Galchenyuk has been below average in terms of helping his team control territory in all three locations.

In Pittsburgh, he is playing for one of the best coaches in hockey and has played alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. He has not benefited from the quality of teammate boost. In a contract year, he has not made the most of his opportunity.

In the wake of injuries (and there have been a lot of them), Galchenyuk has not stepped up. Relative to his teammates, his numbers are below average. The blue indicates a skater performing well in an area and is the higher percentile. While the red indicates a skater being below average in that aspect.

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On most nights, the Penguins have a relentless forecheck. Their forwards take the right angles to pucks and make it difficult for opponents to breakout and navigate through the neutral zone. Galchenyuk consistently takes poor angles to pucks, bobbles passes and can look lost out there. It’s almost as though he lacks the details and hockey sense to play and fit in with this Penguins team.

This clip from the November 25th tilt against Calgary is proof of that. Galchenyuk is the forward in the lower portion of this GIF. He is offsides by a mile.

Galchenyuk Penguins GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

GIF via Giphy

Galchenyuk has not even come close to filling the void in the Penguins top-six forwards after being the primary return in the Phil Kessel deal. His production has not been worth his 4.9M cap hit. He is a pending unrestricted free agent and I would be shocked if he returns to the Penguins next season.

Over the last month, both TSN and Sportsnet have reported that the Penguins were exploring trading Galchenyuk. The expected return is a bottom-six forward or a draft pick. Buffalo, Los Angeles, and Minnesota could be landing spots for the 25-year-old forward.

Even if Jake Guentzel were healthy, I have felt that the Penguins needed to add a top-six forward. A large part of my rationale behind that was because Galchenyuk has never really fit in here. Barring a drastic change in performance over the next 11 games, Galchenyuk is likely to be part of a trade within the next month. Between Jason Zucker, Tyler Toffoli, and Chris Kreider, I believe the Penguins are going to acquire a top-six winger.

Next: One Player Each Team Should Trade

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With just over a month until the February 24 NHL trade deadline, I suspect we will continue to hear Galchenyuk’s name in trade rumors, and we will likely see him calling a new city home. Thanks for reading!

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