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Worth the wait

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL — Good things are worth waiting for, and Alex Galchenyuk proved he's as patient when it comes to contract talks as he is with the puck.

Signing a new two-year deal a full 30 days after the NHL’s July 1st free agent deadline, it turns out the timing was actually just right for the 21-year-old restricted free agent.

“Personally, I don’t even think the wait was that long — it’s not even August yet. I also changed agents, which stopped things for a bit, and then I went back to Russia for three weeks,” pointed out Galchenyuk via conference call from his offseason training base in Miami on Friday. “We really didn’t talk much over that span because of the time zone differences, but since returning to North America, things have gone really well and we actually got the deal done pretty quickly.”

With the two-year ‘bridge’ contract, the Milwaukee, WI native now has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of teammates Carey Price, and more recently P.K. Subban, who each proved their worth via short-term contracts before cementing their futures in Montreal for the long haul.

“That was my idea. I spoke to [my agent] Pat Brisson about it before going into negotiations. He supported my decision and I think it’s a good way to start for sure,” insisted the 6-foot-1, 198-pound forward who added he could play at either center or on the wing in 2015-16. “It’s simple. I need to prove myself on the ice and help the team as much as I can right now, then see what happens in two years.”

Coming off a season of career highs in goals (20), assists (26) and points (46) in 2014-15, Galchenyuk meanwhile preferred to paint his predictions for the upcoming year with broad strokes.

“In terms of goals or points, I never think of how many I want to score during a season. At the end of the day, you can’t limit yourself. Instead, you’ve just got to go out there feeling confident and in the right mindset,” argued the 100-plus career point-getter, who hit the triple-digit mark in just his third NHL season. “I do expect to have myself a great year though. I’m really focused and I can’t wait to get started. I’m excited for the team and myself.”

A key part of the Canadiens’ offensive core, Galchenyuk has reason to be excited, following an offseason which saw general manager Marc Bergevin bolster his team up front with the addition of five-time 25-plus goalscorer Alexander Semin.

“I actually met him in Montreal right before he signed. I was at the Canadiens’ kids camp [at the Bell Sports Complex] and he was there with his agent. I’m happy for him. I would definitely love to play on a line with him. He’s a skilled player and over the years he has shown that he can score a lot of goals,” dished the Canadiens’ third overall pick from the 2012 Draft on the topic of his newest teammate. “I think it’s going to go well and I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Since making his NHL debut in 2013, Galchenyuk has been part of a Habs team which has never finished the regular season ranked lower than ninth league-wide, having also won the sixth-most postseason contests over that span. Which is a big reason why the versatile goalscorer never imagined himself suiting up elsewhere.

“Expectations are really high, especially in Montreal, but I think we’re up there with the top teams in the league. It’s up to us to go out there and prove ourselves again,” concluded Galchenyuk. “We’re a confident group with great young players and strong veteran leaders. Plus, having Carey makes us a special team, and we’re all excited to get the season started.”

Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com

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