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Galchenyuk to begin season with Canadiens

by Arpon Basu /

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens made seven cuts Friday morning to leave them with 23 healthy bodies in training camp, and top draft pick Alex Galchenyuk was not among those who were sent home.

Galchenyuk, the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, has spent the entire camp skating at left wing on the Canadiens' second line, and that's presumably where he'll be when the Habs host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night in the season opener.

The Canadiens also kept forwards Brendan Gallagher and Mike Blunden, sending forwards Michael Bournival, Gabriel Dumont, Louis Leblanc and Patrick Holland and defensemen Mike Commodore, Frederic St-Denis and Jarred Tinordi back to their American Hockey League affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs.

Galchenyuk did not get on the score sheet during Thursday night's intra-squad scrimmage in front of more than 17,000 fans at the Bell Centre, but it has been obvious throughout training camp that he will at least get a five-game tryout before the club decides whether or not to send him back to the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.

Coach Michel Therrien has been clear all week that a "kid" will not make his club unless he plays a significant number of minutes, with the minimum pegged by the coach at 12 minutes per game.

Galchenyuk has played opposite captain Brian Gionta on the Habs' second line all week, with either Lars Eller or Tomas Plekanec at center. Plekanec is recovering from a rib injury he suffered while playing in his native Czech Republic during the lockout, and his status remains questionable for Saturday night's opener.

Plekanec's injury may explain the surprise inclusion of Gallagher on the Habs opening night roster, though he has had an exceptional training camp for a second year in a row and Therrien likes his willingness to pay the price in front of the net in spite of his 5-foot-9, 163-pound frame.

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