Toronto Maple Leafs: Is Alex Galchenyuk destined to be the NHL’s travelling man forever?

Alex Galchenyuk #17 of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Alex Galchenyuk #17 of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Let’s just hope that Alex Galchenyuk enjoys living out of a suitcase.

Just days after being dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes, Alex Galchenyuk was on the move once again on Monday after being traded by the Canes to the Toronto Maple Leafs, with forward Egor Korshkov and veteran defenseman David Warsofsky heading in the opposite direction.

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It was quite the weekend for Galchenyuk who was part of the trade that saw Ryan Dzingel return home to the Ottawa Senators but, after Carolina President and General Manager Don Waddell failed to even mention Galchenyuk by name in the team’s official Press Release, maybe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the well-travelled forward was swiftly on the move once again just a couple of days later.

Granted, the fact that Galchenyuk is now settling into his seventh NHL franchise – yes, you read that right – also shouldn’t surprise you that he managed to call two teams home in a matter of days, but it does beg the following question:

Alex Galchenyuk (17)
Ottawa Senators left wing Alex Galchenyuk (17). Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports /

Is Alex Galchenyuk destined to be the NHL’s travelling man forever?

As we mentioned above, Galchenyuk is in the process of completing a whistle-stop tour through the National Hockey League and, at this point, would it really surprise anyone if he ends up playing for all 32 franchises by the time he hangs up the skates? Okay, we kid (kind of).

Anyway, things haven’t exactly panned out for the center despite the fact that he arrived in North America with a plethora of hype and lofty expectations after being selected with the No. 3 overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

However, and while he certainly made an encouraging start with 27 points (9 G, 18 A) in 48 games in his rookie year in 2012-13, Galchenyuk has only regressed since then with a total of 321 points (136 G, 185 A) in 557 career regular-season games, taking in stops with the Canadiens, the Arizona Coyotes, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Minnesota Wild, the Ottawa Senators and now the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Of course, the two-day stint with the Carolina Hurricanes won’t really count given that the 27-year-old didn’t lace up the skates for that franchise, but the alarming trend at play here is the fact that the player has been on four different teams (five if you count the Canes) since the 2018-19 season.

He was actually a pretty decent offensive contributor for the Canadiens, hitting the 50-point plateau twice in six years, but he has never quite been able to unlock his full potential and he’s been on a rapid slide over the past couple of years.

So, will it be any different with Galchenyuk and the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Alex Galchenyuk (18)
Alex Galchenyuk #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Well, for starters, the Maple Leafs are in dire need of secondary scoring in order to balance out what is an incredibly top-heavy lineup, while Head Coach Sheldon Keefe is known for player development and he could be the kind of steady figure that Galchenyuk needs in order to get things back on track.

We know the talent is there with the left-shot and it may well just take some trust, patience and the right Head Coach to finally drag it out of him. It could be that simple. And it would also be typical if the Maple Leafs were the team to finally solve the Alex Galchenyuk problem.

As I mapped out with Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson, sometimes a change of scenery is all you need and playing for a contender who boast quality players up and down the lineup could be exactly what Galchenyuk needs to turn things around just as he is reaching his prime years.

He will get his looks with the Leafs and, having been pretty good in the faceoff circle over the last couple of years, including a 58.3 percent win rate in 45 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2019-20, Galchenyuk could play a real 200-foot game while providing an offensive punch from the bottom-six.

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Plus, let’s not understate the secret weapon that is the fact that Galchenyuk is on the cusp of playing himself out of the National Hockey League so, with that acting as a potential motivator, it is feasible to think that he could seize this last chance with both hands and attempt to light it up for a team that needs someone to drive their bottom-six forward unit and spark their secondary scoring into life and, if he is able to do exactly that and play at a high-level consistently then maybe, just maybe, Alex Galchenyuk can stop living out of a suitcase and finally look forward to shedding his status as the NHL’s travelling man.