Yes, you read the title right, Alex Galchenyuk is coming back to the desert after a 2 year hiatus. As you probably know, Alex took those two years away as an opportunity to travel the world, (or the league). However, there is a lot more to go through still when it comes to the Galchenyuk in Arizona era, and many pieces still have to fall. I am here to discuss whether trading Domi for Alex was the right decision for the Coyotes.
Let’s start by looking back to June 2018, it is announced that the Arizona Coyotes will be trading forward Max Domi straight across for forward Alex Galchenyuk. Now, as a Coyotes fan, this felt inevitable, as Arizona has a history of finding ways to not pay players looking to re-sign. Domi was no different as this trade came at the last year of his entry level contract, and an extension was required by Montreal. Now if we look at year one after the trade, Montreal seemingly had the advantage, as Domi put up career high numbers and played better than he ever did in Arizona on both ends of the ice. Meanwhile, Galchenyuk put up 41 points in 72 games. While this isn’t terrible, it was definitely not as impactful as he had been the previous two years in Montreal.
Now, after his one year as a Coyote, the team traded him, and prospect Pierre-Oliver Joseph, to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forwards Phil Kessel, Dane Birks, as well as a fourth round pick. Once in Pittsburgh, Galchenyuk’s numbers declined even further, and over the past two years, he has bounced around the league, joining the Penguins, Wild, Senators, Hurricanes, and Maple Leaf’s rosters. Galchenyuk has not lived up to the hype he initially had being a third overall pick in 2012, and has just signed a one year deal for a mere $750,000. Now the question is, how has the trade to Pittsburgh affected Arizona, and was it the right decision?
If you were to judge the Pittsburgh trade after year one, then yes, you would say the deal was a flop. Kessel put up some of his worst numbers to date, and was carrying a large cap hit. At that time, Arizona saw themselves as a potential playoff contender and hoped guys like Kessel and Hall could push them to be just that. However, after a very brief first round exit to Colorado (one which Darcy Kuemper carried the Coyotes), the team began to fall apart. For starters, Taylor Hall left during free agency, and the Coyotes general manager just quit before the playoffs even started. Kessel on the other hand, began to play much better the following season, leading the entire team in points. In a regular 82 game season, Kessel was on pace to put up 62 points and 29 goals, and the only problem was that the Coyotes were not able to make the playoffs that year. At this point, the Coyotes’ best bet is that Kessel can start the year on a similar pace and then move him to a team where his play can be best utilized, and in return, give the Coyotes prospects and picks.
When we look back on the original trade, it is hard to tell at this point who truly won. Montreal has since traded away Max Domi and a third round pick to Columbus in exchange for forward Josh Anderson, who was a key piece to their Stanley Cup finals run. The Coyotes have traded away Galchenyuk, acquired Kessel and some smaller pieces, and then resigned Galchenyuk, in a matter of three years. So if you ask me, it is going to take a while longer before we can declare a true winner to this trade.
I would now like to talk about the actual signing of Alex Galchenyuk by the Arizona Coyotes. Alex may not be a top tier player in the league, or even the caliper of player that Arizona had hoped for when they traded for him. However, that is not what Arizona needs right now. If you ask me, the Coyotes have one intention with Alex, and that is to convince other teams that he still has value, and then flip him once again. It is no secret the Coyotes want a top pick in next years draft, as well as everybody else’s early picks, and trading away a player like Galchenyuk makes perfect sense. If he can be played on the second or third line and put up good points in a system where not many will, his stock value will rise, And once again Alex Galchenyuk will travel across the NHL.