By Aaron Bell
It was supposed to be a banner year for Alex Galchenyuk.
The Sarnia Sting forward went into training camp a year ago ready for a breakout season and to prove that he should be considered a top NHL Draft prospect – just like his teammate Nail Yakupov.
Galchenyuk was the former first overall pick in the OHL draft and scored 31 goals and 83 points as a rookie with the Sting. He was primed for even more as a sophomore.
But Galchenyuk didn’t even get to start the season. He suffered a serious knee injury in a pre-season game against the Windsor Spitfires when he crashed awkwardly into the Spitfires’ net. The injury required surgery and Galchenyuk was forced to sit out until the final two games of the season.
Fortunately for the Sting, Galchenyuk is back this season – and in a big way. He leads the team with eight goals and 21 points in 15 games and is thrilled to be back on the ice.
“Right now, I’m just hungry – I want to play,” Galchenyuk said. “I missed the whole year and I just want to be productive and help the team win.”
Galchenyuk’s injury did little to hurt his draft status. Yakupov went first overall to the Edmonton Oilers at the draft last June but Galchenyuk was scooped up two picks later by the Montreal Canadiens.
“We had our eyes on him all along,” Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin told the National Post after selecting Galchenyuk in Pittsburgh. “I met him a few times and I was impressed. He’s a very worldly guy.”
Galchenyuk is doing everything that he can to prove to the Canadiens that they were right to not let his injury scare them away.
“It was tough missing last year,” Galchenyuk said. “But I did a lot of work (to get back) and I had a lot of help with the doctors and all of the medical staff.
Galchenyuk has helped the Sting jump out to an 8-6-0-1 record this season. He has points in all but three games this season, including a four point effort against the Soo Greyhounds and three-points each against the Spitfires and Brampton Battalion in October.
Galchenyuk has also helped the Sting put together the best powerplay in the league so far. They are operating at a 32.2% effectiveness with the man-advantage.
“We work hard on the powerplay during practice,” said Galchenyuk, who has two goals and six assists on the powerplay this season.
“Special teams are key in this league and we’re having success on the powerplay – hopefully we can keep going with that.”