Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said Wednesday he expects teammate Max Pacioretty to recover quickly from his offseason knee injury.
"He's got a history of being a pretty quick healer, so I expect him back pretty soon," Gallagher told TSN Radio 1040 in Vancouver, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Pacioretty injured his knee during an off-ice workout July 9, and the Canadiens said his recovery was expected to take 12 weeks. Montreal opens its season at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 7, a few days past that 12-week timetable.
Pacioretty led Montreal with 37 goals and an NHL career-high 67 points last season. He has scored at least 30 goals in each of the past three full seasons.
"He's such an important piece for our team, and the strides that he took becoming a leader in our locker room that guys like myself look toward to follow," Gallagher said. "Definitely a guy that we're going to need, but I don't think we're all that worried with [him]. He's been hurt before and he's come back even stronger, so I think we're expecting the same thing."
Pacioretty several times has returned sooner than expected from injury, including playing eight days after he had an appendectomy, a procedure that called for a recovery time of 3-4 weeks.
Gallagher, who scored an NHL career-high 24 goals last season, said he is looking forward to playing with forward Zach Kassian, who was acquired by Montreal in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.
"I'm excited to watch him," Gallagher said. "I think he's really excited for the opportunity. ??? I expect him to do great things. I think everyone does. If he comes in and plays the style of hockey that he's capable of doing, he's going to be a very good player for us, and that's what we need. He's a guy that can play physical, he can handle the puck, he can score goals, and if he can show up and play his style of hockey every single night, I think fans in Montreal are going to love him."
Gallagher did say the Canadiens will miss forward Brandon Prust, who was traded for Kassian.
"Usually when you're going through a little bit of adversity, he's the guy that is able to understand the situation you're in and kind of calm guys down and bring them back down to earth," Gallagher said. "He's played with some great leaders, he's been on some really good teams, so he's a guy that certainly helped us in our locker room, and we're going to have a void that we're going to have to fill ??? "