MONTREAL -- After a 27-point rookie season, Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk is showing he's the real deal again with 16 points in his first 23 games of 2013-14.
With Montreal hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at Bell Centre, Galchenyuk had a chance to get noticed in person for Olympic consideration with USA Olympic coach Dan Bylsma behind the Penguins bench.
But according to Bylsma, Galchenyuk has been on his radar for the past three years. If he had it his way, Bylsma would've been coaching Galchenyuk for the Penguins. He first met the Canadiens rising young star at the 2012 NHL Research and Development Camp in Toronto and was instantly impressed.
"I met Alex a couple summers ago at the NHL Development camp when he was a prospect and 17," Bylsma said. "Two-and-a-half days there in Toronto and I was fortunate to coach him there. We kind of had our eyes on those players when they were going into their draft year."
Bylsma was hoping the Penguins could find a way to draft Galchenyuk, but knew that wasn't likely.
"I in no way shape or form wanted to be drafting Alex because that meant we were going to be drafting 1, 2 or 3," Byslma joked. "I didn't want that as a coach because that meant I probably wasn't going to be the coach. But I had my eye on him that early and when he went to the Canadiens I hoped – not that he could be down where we could draft him – but I remember talking to Alex that day and saying I was disappointed he didn't become a Penguin that day."
But since then, Bylsma has kept tabs on Galchenyuk and on Saturday he praised the Montreal forward's consistency.
"I've watched him keenly and I think he's got a real panache and real talent for the game," Bylsma said. "He's having a fantastic year this year and he built on a great rookie season last year. He brings it every night and I've watched that for a couple of years."
As for the possibility of coaching Galchenyuk on a grand stage such as the 2014 Sochi Olympics?
"He's certainly a young player that got invited to the 48-player U.S. camp this summer and he's in a group of young players and U.S. players that are very talented," Bylsma said with a smile. "Some are getting little experience and some are getting more experience and Alex is one of those guys that he is young, but he's now had almost a full NHL season with the 48-game season and starting again this season. So he's got some experience to his game and he's playing and being effective and as a young player, but not as a rookie. So he's a guy we're watching."