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With so much excitement surrounding a rare top-5 pick for the Habs, the question is: will Alex Galchenyuk start the season for with Montreal? The expert consensus seems a disappointing no. On the other hand, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was also considered unready for the big leagues or better off maturing in junior for another season. So, what is the fate of Nail Yakupov’s teammate of a year ago for the 2012-2013 season?
The benefits of staying in junior and perhaps captaining the U.S. junior team in the upcoming World Junior Championships could do no harm for a nineteen year old. But, then again, if Galchenyuk could do as well as the “Nuge,” Hab fans would only be too happy to see the young American suit up in the bleu-blanc-rouge for the upcoming campaign.
The decision probably lies between how well he impresses at camp and which slot he would fill on the team. As far as training camp goes, his work ethic and physical condition lean towards him probably capable of cracking the roster. The problem then becomes which spot would he claim. The Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole line should remain intact while Tomas Plekanec does not figure to give up his spot. And rather than being a third liner - which Lars Eller seemingly is (and potentially a really good one) - Galchenyuk is probably better suited to return to Sarnia and head off to Russia for the World Juniors in December.
The interesting situation develops if Marc Bergevin and company use Tomas Plekanec - along with some other spare parts such as Raphael Diaz, Yannick Weber or a Danny Kristo - to make a play to trade for Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan. This would open up a centre spot and add a top-end winger to play alongside Galchenyuk to help his development.
Undoubtedly, Galchenyuk’s fate is entwined with the success of the Montreal Canadiens franchise and whether it be next year or the following, he brings with him hope and that elite centre element required to make a serious run for Lord Stanley’s Cup.