Courtesy of Point Park University

Galchenyuk on trade: ‘Unbelievable opportunity’


To continue reading, log into your account:

[theme-my-login show_title=0]
Alex Galchenyuk. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Perhaps it's no surprise that Alex Galchenyuk's command of English is so good.

After all, he was born in Milwaukee, where his father played minor-league hockey, and spent four years in North America before the family moved to Europe so his dad could extend his career in Germany, Italy and Russia.

Besides, Galchenyuk has spent the past seven seasons in the NHL, the first six with Montreal before he was traded to Arizona last June. Heck, odds are that he can drop a few French phrases into the conversation when he wants, too.

And Galchenyuk proved over the weekend that he is perfectly fluent when it comes to reading a depth chart, too, because he realizes that even though center might be his position of choice, he's not going to dislodge Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin from their spots in the middle of the top two lines.

That means that if, after being acquired from Arizona in the trade that sent Phil Kessel to the Coyotes Saturday, Galchenyuk is intent on filling a top-six role with the Penguins, he'll have to do it on the wing. Jim Rutherford said shortly after the trade was finalized that he projects Galchenyuk on the right side, but Galchenyuk said Sunday that he has no qualms about playing either wing.

"Coming in, I'm definitely really focused on playing wing," he said. "I don't think right or left would be that big of a difference. Obviously, you look at the centers the team has, probably the top centers in the league, no doubt. Whether it's the right or left side, I'm sure I'll adapt pretty well."

Although Galchenyuk said he doesn't feel pressure to replace the goal-scoring that Kessel, who had 27 goals last season, provided, he has been a pretty consistent source of offense. He has put up 127 goals and 169 assists in 490 games and had his best offensive season with Montreal in 2015-16, when he produced career-highs in goals (30) and points (56).

Galchenyuk was 22 years and 57 days old when he reached the 30-goal milestone, which means he got there faster than any player in the Canadiens' fabled history except Bernie Geoffrion and Stephane Richer.

Of more interest to the Penguins might be that he alluded that being on a team with elite talents like Crosby and Malkin might allow him to surpass that kind of output.

"Playing with great players, it's just an unbelievable opportunity for me," Galchenyuk said.

His NHL career actually began here, when Montreal made him the third player selected in the 2012 draft, which was held at the building then known as Consol Energy Center.

"That was definitely special, being drafted there," he said. "Seven years later, I'm a Pittsburgh Penguin, so it's surreal."

News that he would be changing teams for the second time in just over 12 months reached Galchenyuk while he was relaxing with his girlfriend after a week of training.

"I saw on my phone that I got a text from John Chayka saying, 'Call me,'" he said, referring to the Coyotes' GM. "I told my girlfriend that I'm pretty sure I got traded."

He was correct, and a call from Rutherford arrived shortly thereafter. Followed by a welcome from a soon-to-be teammate.

"I got a text from Sid, which was a big moment for me," Galchenyuk said. "That was definitely exciting."

So, he said repeatedly, is the chance he'll have to help the Penguins earn another banner to hang in the rafters of the building where he was drafted.

"Timing is everything," Galchenyuk said. "I feel this is the right time to come to Pittsburgh. I'm just really looking forward to this opportunity to come to Pittsburgh, to a winning culture. To just enjoy my time there, work hard and help the team to get to the ultimate goal, which is a Stanley Cup."

To continue reading, log into your account: