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Galchenyuk believes he can contribute more offensively with Penguins

Forward excited about possibility of playing alongside Crosby, Malkin after trade from Coyotes

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Alex Galchenyuk isn't looking to replace Phil Kessel for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I've honestly not thought about that too much," said Galchenyuk, who was traded from the Coyotes to the Penguins on Saturday.

But there is one way the 25-year-old forward wants to mirror Kessel: he would like to win a Stanley Cup championship with Pittsburgh, which Kessel did there in each of his first two seasons (2016, 2017).

 

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"I'm looking forward to this new step in my life," Galchenyuk said. "I think I'm ready for it physically and mentally. Timing is everything. I feel this is the right time to come to Pittsburgh. Just looking forward to coming to Pittsburgh, to a winning culture.

"Just enjoy my time there and work hard to help the team to get to the ultimate goal, which is the Stanley Cup."

In return for Galchenyuk and defenseman prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph, the Penguins traded Kessel, defenseman Dane Birks and a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Kessel had 82 points (27 goals, 55 assists) in 82 games last season.

Galchenyuk and Kessel produced similarly in 2015-16, when Galchenyuk had an NHL career-high 56 points (30 goals, 26 assists) for the Montreal Canadiens and Kessel had 59 points (26 goals, 33 assists) in his first season with the Penguins. In the following three seasons, Kessel averaged 81 points; Galchenyuk averaged 45.

Video: Penguins trade Kessel to Coyotes for Galchenyuk

Despite the discrepancy, Galchenyuk could give the Penguins some flexibility. Kessel played the vast majority of his time at right wing, primarily on the second or third line, but Galchenyuk welcomes either side.

"You look at the roster of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it's no surprise that anywhere you play, it's going to be really exciting," Galchenyuk said. "Playing wing from right or left, I don't think that would be that big of a difference. ... You look at the centers that this team has (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin), top centers in the League, no doubt.

"Whether it's the right or the left side, I'm sure I'll definitely adapt pretty well."

Crosby reached out to Galchenyuk shortly after the trade became official. Galchenyuk called the text message "a big moment" for him, but the chance to play on a line with Crosby or Malkin has him excited.

"Playing with great players, it's just an unbelievable opportunity for me," Galchenyuk said. "I put pressure on myself to perform my best."

Meshing with Crosby or Makin, or providing depth on the third line, could help Galchenyuk eclipse his 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 72 games with the Coyotes last season. That was his lowest output since 2013-14, when he had 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 65 games during his second NHL season with the Canadiens.

Galchenyuk is aiming to prove he can be a dynamic offensive player again in Pittsburgh.

"It's something I'm really looking forward to," Galchenyuk said. "Using my shot and being as explosive as I need to be."

That's what convinced the Canadiens to take Galchenyuk with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft, held at Pittsburgh's PPG Paints Arena. Seven seasons later, Galchenyuk feels like his NHL career has come full circle.

"It's surreal. You can't really explain all of the emotions that I had," Galchenyuk said. "I remember it being a great sports city that's one of the best in the country and how great the fans are. Even from the draft experience, I remember how passionate the fans are.

"It's a beautiful city with hard-working people. It suits me really well."

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