Alex Galchenyuk COULD be one of the players with the biggest potential in this year's draft...but there are a lot of risks for the NHL teams that might consider calling his name from the podium. (Photo courtesy of the OHL)
Team: Sarnia Sting, OHL
Date Of Birth: February 12, 1994
Place of Birth: Milwaukee, WI
Ht: 6' 1" WT: 185
If there was an award for the biggest gamble of the 2012 draft class, it might go to the team who decides to call Alex Galchenyuk's name at the podium.
The first overall pick of the 2010 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Galchenyuk made a big splash along with teammate Nail Yakupov, and was third to the Russian winger in overall rookie scoring last year. Strong on the puck and projecting to fill out his frame rapidly, it seemed entirely possible that he might be vying with Yakupov for the #1 overall pick.
Then it all went horribly wrong.
Taking a misstep as he drove to the net on a routine play during a preseason game, Galchenyuk tore his ACL, and he didn't make it back to the Sarnia lineup until March 14th. Playing in just two games of the regular season (where he was held scoreless), he did pick up two goals and two assists in the Sting's first round playoff exit.
He could be a top six center. He could find himself unable to keep up with the demands of the NHL. He might turn into a first class playmaker. He might find that his skating (a concern that was raised pre-injury) finds him as a career AHLer. He might be a perennial all star.
Galchenyuk NEEDS a good NHL Combine. It might be what makes the difference between a top ten pick and dropping into the second round, if not lower. Because there simply wasn't enough time to judge his on ice performance, teams interested in him will have to measure his physical performance in the combine testing, gauge his character, and throw the dice.
His ability to read the ice at top speeds and intelligent, skilled passes is astounding. He has both the ability to finish off plays around the net or the ability to generate offense anywhere in the offensive zone. He has a laser shot with a very quick release. He is not scared off by physical play, and although does not often engage, he is more then willing to use his body to win a battle or to take a hit to make a play.
Galchenyuk is a strong centre with excellent puck protection skills and these type of players are rare in hockey. NHL teams covet responsible skilled centreman to build their forward corps around, and it is these qualities that add tremendous value to Alex Galchenyuk's draft stock.
Why He'd Be A Good Fit In Columbus:
While I wouldn't expect Galchenyuk to be a serious candidate at the second overall pick, he's a VERY attractive possibility if the team does end up with a later first round selection via trades, or if he should drop into the second or third round. Given comparisons to players like Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, and Jordan Staal, he COULD become a very smart pick that helps to fill out the team down the middle as Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, and Derick Brassard all come into their prime.
He's a player who clearly worked like hell to get back into the game after what come have been a crippling injury, and by all reports he's incredibly competitive and fights like hell to win. Those are personality traits the Jackets could certainly use in their prospect pool.
This is a player who basically missed a year with a major injury that all too often can become chronic later in life. He's at a heightened risk for additional knee issues, and teams are going to be looking at his medical packet with a fine tooth comb. Unless the combine totally silences questions about his physical issues, he's just too risky for the #2 overall pick, but it does seem like he could easily fall far enough for Columbus to take a chance...especially if a Rick Nash trade package returns another first round pick.
Alex Galchenyuk In Action: