When he found out he was getting traded, forward Alex Galchenyuk had to temper his excitement.
The deal that sent him from the Penguins to the Wild happened Monday evening, and Galchenyuk wanted to try to sleep that night.
But the next day, he didn’t hold back.
“The second I woke up [Tuesday] morning there was a lot of adrenaline,” Galchenyuk said.
After arriving in the Twin Cities on Tuesday afternoon and swinging by his hotel, Galchenyuk reported to Xcel Energy Center for his Wild debut — a 4-0 win over the Golden Knights.
It was the beginning of his fourth fresh start in the past three seasons, a game of musical chairs that’s bounced Galchenyuk from Montreal, where he was drafted third overall in 2012, to Arizona, Pittsburgh and now Minnesota.
And while he’s with the Wild, the team plans to help Galchenyuk recalibrate, a process that continues Thursday when the team hosts the Rangers.
“Sometimes you need to make a few stops along the way before you find some place where you’re going to have success,” General Manager Bill Guerin said. “Maybe it’s here.”
Aside from Galchenyuk, the Wild received prospect defenseman Calen Addison and a first-round pick from the Penguins for winger Jason Zucker, a haul that’s designed to benefit the Wild in the future.
Galchenyuk, who turned 26 on Wednesday, was born in Milwaukee while his father, Alexander, played in the International Hockey League for the Milwaukee Admirals. Alexander Galchenyuk was from Belarus, and the family returned to Europe for his pro career when Alex was 4 years old. Alex returned to North America to play junior hockey and helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championships in Russia. Two weeks later, the NHL lockout ended and he jumped from Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League directly to the Canadiens.
Addison is still in junior, with Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League. The Wild cleared cap space in swapping out Zucker’s contract (which carries a $5.5 million average annual value) for an expiring one belonging to Galchenyuk. And if the Wild doesn’t re-sign Galchenyuk, it also creates a roster spot that could be filled by Kirill Kaprizov when the highly hyped forward arrives from the Kontinental Hockey League.
In the meantime, though, Galchenyuk can impact the team with his play.
A former 30-goal scorer with the Canadiens, with whom he spent six seasons before being traded to the Coyotes in 2018, Galchenyuk had 19 goals in Arizona. But after another trade, this time to Pittsburgh last offseason, the winger’s production — and opportunity — tapered off.
In 45 games, he had just five goals and 17 points and his average ice time dropped by more than four minutes from the previous season.
“I expect that, scoring goals, out of myself,” said Galchenyuk, who said he could sense a trade was coming. “Obviously didn’t have that much to this point this season. But I still know I’ve done it for a few years, so I know I can put the puck in the net. It’s just about working on it and keep building my confidence and moving forward.”
It looks like he’ll get that chance with the Wild.
Not only did the team slot him on the second line in his first game, but it’s trying to support Galchenyuk as he vies to recapture his offensive groove.
“That’s our job, to help build him back up and resurrect his career and find his scoring touch again,” Guerin said. “We’ll help him out as much as we can, and we believe in him and hopefully it works out.”