Brendan Gallagher: A Long Term Steal for the Canadiens

The Fifth Round:

The fifth round has been good to the Montreal Canadiens in recent years, as they drafted a few gems that have gone on to become prominent players in their system in said round.

In 2010, the Habs drafted Brendan Gallagher in the fifth round. 146 players were selected before Gallagher, and today, team scouts are likely regretting their decision to pass on the forward multiple times.The winger has since become one of the most important players on the Canadiens’ roster, as he has established himself as the team’s spark plug, and one of their leaders. Gallagher has also earned a reputation around the league for being a hard-working agitator who can score goals.

He is a great example of a player that teams love to have, but hate to play against. Another example of a player who was snagged in the fifth round is Charles Hudon. A Quebec native, Hudon is almost ready to step up and play at the NHL level for his home province team. Hudon was selected 122nd overall in 2012.

Gallagher was on the shelf with a hand injury earlier in the season, and his absence was truly felt by the Canadiens. The team suffered from not having him in their lineup, as the goals-for numbers significantly dropped. At only 23 years of age, Gallagher has his best years still ahead of him. Luckily for Habs fans, the Alberta native will be spending the next few years in Montreal. This article will discuss why the valuable winger’s contract makes him quite the steal for the Habs.

The Contract:

Last season, Brendan Gallagher inked a contract extension that has him signed to the Canadiens until the end of the 2020-21 season. The six-year deal pays Gallagher 22.5 million dollars, which averages out to about 3.75 million per year. Paying a guy like Gallagher 3.75 million per year is already proving to be a bargain for the Canadiens. The 23-year-old would have been on pace for 32 goals this season, had he played all 82 games. He is currently on pace for a very respectable 50 points in 65 projected games this season.

Gallagher’s contract is beneficial for the Canadiens, who will have some big re-signings to do in the future. The Habs will have to re-sign goaltender, Carey Price in 2018, along with current captain, Max Pacioretty in 2019. Though these signings may seem far off, they are deals that will likely be easier to get done with Gallagher’s very reasonable long-term re-signing.

The winger’s 2014-15 season ended with him having recorded 24 goals and 47 points. For contractual comparison, let’s take a look at NHL players with similar stats. In 2014-15, Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators scored 18 goals and totalled 54 points. Ryan signed a new contract last season, like Gallagher, though Ryan’s contract carries an annual average of 7.25 million per season. The difference between Gallagher and Ryan’s contracts is 3.5 million dollars, while the Sens’ forward is on pace for only 12 more points than Gallagher, with 16 more projected games played.

Check out the classic Gallagher-esque goal.

Another contractual comparison would be with Chicago’s newly acquired winger, Andrew Ladd. The two players have identical stats, as Ladd has scored the exact same 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points thus far this season. Ladd is scheduled to hit free agency on July 1st, where he will surely get a raise from his current contract, which pays him 4.5 million dollars. Ladd has played 59 games this season, compared to Gallagher’s 44. Look for Chicago’s rental winger to get over 5 million dollars annually on his next deal.

Lastly, let’s take a look at Carolina Hurricanes forward, Jeff Skinner. Skinner’s contract runs through 2018-19, and it pays him an average annual rate of 5.67 million per season. Skinner is on pace for 46 points this season. With a difference of just under 2 million dollars annually in their contracts, the player earning less, Gallagher, is set to score more points in fewer games played.

It is understood that the Canadiens’ forward plays a different style of play than the three compared players. These comparisons are based solely on points. This is not to say that Gallagher is ‘better than’ Ryan, Ladd, and Skinner, rather it is showing that his contract is much more reasonable.

The Gallagher Effect:

Not only has the Albertan winger proven that he can score, he has also proven that he is a leader in the Canadiens’ locker room. Though this season has been tough for the Canadiens, everyone in the locker room can count on number 11 to show up and give 110% every game. Gallagher is starting to show true qualities of a leader, as he emerges as one of the Canadiens’ most valuable players. The team very obviously missed him when he was out with an injury earlier in the year. It’s certain that the Habs are an easier team to play against when the pesky winger isn’t in the lineup. Teams don’t have to worry about protecting their creases nearly as much as when Gallagher is dressed.

With Gallagher in the lineup, the Canadiens’ culture seems to change. More traffic is created around the net, the offence is turned up to a new level, and the team seems to get a true spark offensively. He has been one of the only players on the Canadiens’ roster that has been consistent throughout this rough season. Gallagher is the future of the Montreal Canadiens. Look for the winger to be the leader of this group whenever they’re prepared to break out of their current slump.

As younger players are likely to have a legitimate shot at making the Canadiens’ roster next season, let’s hope they follow Gallagher’s example, as he will demonstrate the work-ethic that is sure to get them noticed. Brendan Gallagher’s contract will work in the Canadiens’ favour in the long-term, as he is already proving that he is quite the steal for his team.