FTHM III: ALEX GALCHENYUK

A lot of people believe that if Sarnia Sting centre Alex Galchenyuk hadn’t missed most of the 2011-2012 season with a knee injury he’d be neck and neck with teammate Nail Yakupov as the top-ranked prospect going into the NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh.

After seeing Galchenyuk blaze through fitness testing at the NHL Combine, putting to rest any fears the knee is a problem, more than a few hockey people think he still belongs in the same sentence as the dynamic Yakupov. My guess is you can count the Edmonton Oilers among them.

While that shouldn’t be taken as meaning Oilers chief scout Stu MacGregor and his staff have Galchenyuk rated above or dead-even with Yakupov on their prospect list, you’ve got to think Edmonton’s brain trust is looking long and hard at the possibility of taking a pivot to complement 2011 first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

I’ve gone as far as to suggest the Oilers should swing for the fences and take Yakupov with the first overall pick and then do whatever it takes — short of moving Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle – to acquire another top-five pick and use it to select Galchenyuk. That, obviously, would take a lot of maneuvering by GM Steve Tambellini. Suffice to say, it’s a long shot, at best.

More than likely, then, it’s going to be an either-or situation with Yakupov and Galchenyuk when it comes to Tambellini’s trip to the podium. Is Yakupov the obvious choice or might Galchenyuk get the call? My sense is it’s closer than many people think.

HOW HE RATES

NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 among North American skaters

The Hockey News: No. 7

International Scouting Services: No. 16

McKeen’s Hockey: No. 2

Red Line Report: No. 6

TSN: No. 4

THE SKINNY FROM CSS

A knee injury suffered in a 2011-12 OHL preseason game limited Galchenyuk to all but the last two regular season games and six games playoff games — he recorded four points (2-2-4) during Sarnia’s first round loss to Saginaw.

In 2010-11, Galchenyuk finished second among Ontario Hockey League rookies with 83 points (31-52-83), behind only his teammate and good friend Nail Yakupov (49-52-101).

He was the fourth U.S.-born player to be selected first overall in the OHL priority draft (2010), joining Pat Peake (1990), Patrick O’Sullivan (2001) and Rob Schremp (2002).

Prior to being drafted, Galchenyuk competed for the Chicago Young Americans of the Midwest Elite League for the 2009-10 season — he led the league in scoring (by 33 points) totaling 87 points (44-43-87) in 38 games.

WHAT THEY SAY

David O’Connor, NHLDraft.com

"Galchenyuk is a big, play-making center who can skate very well, especially for his size. He has outstanding vision, hockey sense and is a great passer. He’s always very aware of where everyone is and will be on the ice, and he uses that to his advantage.

"Galchenyuk uses his big body well to create space for himself in the slot and on the boards. He has a very underrated shot, exceptional release and is very accurate. He can not only produce offensively night-in night-out, but he’s also very good defensively and understands that taking care of things in his own end is as important as producing at the other end of the ice. He also has outstanding hands and can often be found stick-handling in phone booths."

MACGREGOR’S TAKE

Scouting Report: "He’s an intense and highly skilled big centre. He’s not going to bang you off the puck, but he’ll use leverage. He’s high-end."

Projection: "A tremendous No. 2 centre."

Weaknesses: "He has to add come consistency to his game. His problem is he missed so much of the year with his injury. He’s missed some development time, so we haven’t seen all of the package yet."

NHL Comparable: "Well, who’s a great second-line NHL centre? He’s not really like a Jordan Staal. He kind of reminds of (winger) Milan Hejduk, actually. In tight, he’s pretty quick."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • @ Cody anderson

    My thought’s exactly! How do you defend two lines like that?

    The asking price for that pick maybe steep,

    I’m thinking Gagner or Hemsky – Paarjvi- Bunz -second round pick steep.

    I think as a UFA not just defensemen the team becomes attractive to play for.

  • Need to Upgrade 2C to be a contender? Maybe after they upgrade Goaltending and Defense, but certainly an upgrade offensively at 2C is unrequired. Galchenyuk MIGHT be an upgrade on offense to Gagner, but that’s obviously not the part of his game that needs to be upgraded to be a winner. Just look at this year’s Cup Champion.

    Mike Richards, 2C of the Cup Winning Kings: GP 74 G 18 A 26 P 44 +/- +3 PIM 71 FO% 50.5

    Sam Gagner, 2C of the lowly Edmonton Oilers: GP 75 G 18 A 29 P 47 +/- +5 PIM 36 FO% 47.6

    Gagner’s offense isnt the problem. Galchenyuk can upgrade on physical size, but is he a dirty shot blocking physical centre willing to have 100+ hits a season? I have my doubts.

    So if Gagner’s Offense isnt defective in the 2C role and his proposed replacement isnt significantly better in the areas of the game that Gagner’s detractors are b*tching about, then why are we using assets to address that spot and not the defense or goaltending?

    What’s the hurry to push Gagner out for the next big thing if his replacement isnt fixing what’s “broken” with 89?

  • It’ll be a lot cheaper to draft a NBR.1-2 center with size and grit than trying to trade for one , or UFA . Not sold on Grigorenko by the way , i think he’ll slip beyond the 10 spot . Getting both Yak and Greg would be nice , but would prefer we go for someone like Trouba to anchor defence as second choice . We are pretty good at wing already , do we really need more at this stage is the question ?

  • “Yak has 35+ goal scorer written all over him, that’s far more valuable then a tremdous 2nd line center IMO.”

    Yakupov is dynamic, no question, and a lot of people feel the same as you do about his potential.

    The flipside, given the make-up of the Oilers roster, is having Nugent-Hopkins and Galchenyuk as a one-two punch down the middle is very enticing as well. Being a “No. 2” centre isn’t a knock if the No. 1 is RNH.

  • Offer each team behind us until he is picked Gagner and 2nd round pick. Throw in any of Peckam, Teubert, Omark, Plante or Pitlick if required. If they won’t go for it replace 2nd rounder with Hemsky.

    Imagine a second line of Hall-Galchenyuk-Yakupov. This would probably be the best second line in the NHL and would rival 90% of 1st lines.

    With this top 6 I would think attracting a J Schultz, or another puck mofing Dman as a free agent should be much easier. Who would not want to pass to these guys?

  • He’ll be taken in the top 3. If the Oil or Blue Jackets don’t take him, Montreal definitely will. I think he is very close to Yak in long term potential. I would be happy with either of them. If the Oil take Yak, they will still have to upgrade the #2 centre position if they are going to become a top-tier team.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Good player, but we need size with skill. Galchenyuk is very intriguing, as is Griegrenko. If we can land another pick”…………just maybe.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Take Galchenyuk , and work on subsequent to that Trouba . Two cornerstones in one draft staring us in the face . Then start working on weeding out underperforming or over priced veterans .

  • Pronger's Wife

    “He was the fourth U.S.-born player to be selected first overall in the OHL priority draft (2010), joining Pat Peake (1990), Patrick O’Sullivan (2001) and Rob Schremp (2002).”

    Wow, alarm bells ringing! To be similar to Patrick O’Sullivan and Rob Schremp in anything terrifies me. Only thing missing is, “…and is dating Marc Pouliot’s sister Bridget…”

    Otherwise, I wouldn’t actually mind if the Oil ended up choosing him 1st overall. Can he play next year though?