Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher will miss five or fewer games following his late-game hit on New York Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech on Thursday night.
Gallagher is yet to be suspended during his 12-year career, which worked in his favour when the NHL’s Department of Player Safety evaluated the incident. It explains why he was only offered a phone hearing and not an in-person meeting. Disciplinary hearings on the phone generally lead to suspensions that last five games or less.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 26, 2024
The hit, however, probably warranted more than a five suspension.
It was late, unnecessary, and involved Gallagher going out of his way to hit Pelech in the head with his elbow. Simply put, it was the epitome of a brutal, predatory, and dirty hit.
When discussing the type of hits the NHL pretends it wants to eliminate in the NHL, Gallagher’s elbow should be used as the most egregious example.
Gallagher will surely admit his fault, as he’s a player who does not avoid taking responsibility, but given the gravity of the hit, you’d be hard-pressed to argue a shorter suspension was the right call.
Dumb hit by Gallagher. Elbow to Pelech's head. Could be suspension-worthy.
Hopefully Pelech is okay. pic.twitter.com/jHm90dDlJb
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) January 26, 2024
Montreal Canadiens Roster Impact
Despite facing a lot of criticism this year, Gallagher’s underlying numbers were fairly impressive. He’s no longer producing at the same rate he did during his prime years, but when he’s on the ice, the Canadiens control the play. Gallagher leads all regularly-used Canadiens players in shot share (50 CF%) and expected goals (52 xGF%).
Therefore his absence will have a negative impact on the Canadiens, especially when we consider they struggle to control the play during most games.
But it will also present an opportunity for one of the wingers in the bottom six.
Jesse Ylonen has had a difficult time earning a permanent roster spot, par for the course when discussing a skilled player who is given sporadic usage on the fourth line.
A temporary promotion up the lineup would serve as the perfect opportunity to evaluate what the 24-year-old winger can bring to the table for the Canadiens. Ylonen is also in the last year of a one-year contract extension. He will be a restricted free agent this summer, which mitigates some of the risk, but the Habs have to establish whether he has a part to play in the team’s long-term rebuild plans.
It could also lead to more minutes for veteran Tanner Pearson, who has yet to find his rhythm since recovering from his most recent injury. Pearson is billed as a player the Canadiens want to move by the NHL’s trade deadline, but at the moment he’s unlikely to carry much value.
If the Canadiens prefer to add a little more skill to the lineup, they also have the option to recall forward Joshua Roy. The 20-year-old winger had a very encouraging start to his NHL career, earning another audition whenever the opportunity arises.
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) January 18, 2024
All Montreal Canadiens Statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via Natural Stat Trick.