The time is finally right for Canadiens to trade Galchenyuk

Craig Hagerman
MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 07: Alex Galchenyuk #27 of the Montreal Canadiens skates the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on January 7, 2018 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

A dismal 2017-18 campaign has given the Montreal Canadiens a wonderful opportunity.

No, not the chance to pick first overall in the draft - though with half the year still to go, that might not be out of the question - but rather the perfect opening to deal forward Alex Galchenyuk.

Over the past two seasons, Galchenyuk and his coaches have been bombarded by questions surrounding his streaky play, what line he's playing on, and whether he fits best on the wing or at center.

Related: Why Canadiens are making a big mistake by demoting Galchenyuk to 4th line

All that can be put to rest, though, if they trade the 23-year-old.

With Montreal holding down the third-lowest spot in the Eastern Conference and sitting seven points outside a wild-card berth, it's becoming clear the team will be a seller at the trade deadline.

Max Pacioretty's name has already been floated, which means few roster spots are safe. It makes the most sense to trade Galchenyuk, though, and the timing couldn't be better.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Galchenyuk holds a share of the team lead in scoring with Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, recording 23 points in 41 games. He's also matched Andrew Shaw for the top spot on the team with five power-play goals, leads the club with 10 points with the extra attacker, sits tied for second in game-winning goals with two, and ranks third in shots.

Given the struggles he's endured over the last couple seasons, it could be argued his value hasn't been higher.

Back in June, it was reported the Canadiens were actively shopping Galchenyuk, but with no suitor emerging, the team inked the then-restricted free agent to a three-year, $14.7-million contract.

With the Canadiens likely to enter rebuild mode, they'll want to get his $4.9-million cap hit off the books.

As for Galchenyuk, a move might help him recapture the form that led him to record 30 goals and 56 points during the 2015-16 season.

He's still young and talented, and could serve as a great depth upgrade on a contending club ahead of the postseason.

Related: 7 players in need of a change of scenery

The last two years have been a headache for everyone surrounding the Galchenyuk saga. A trade would put it to bed, helping the Canadiens acquire draft picks or prospects and giving him a fresh start.

The trade deadline is Feb. 26. It's time for Marc Bergevin to work the phones.