Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
After spending four seasons with the Vancouver Giants and a partial season in the AHL, 20-year-old Brendan Gallagher has made it to the big show. The Edmonton-born forward is one of two rookies on the Montreal Canadiens roster this season, joining fellow “Gally” Alex Galchenyuk, in the storied franchise’s lineup.
Gallagher, 20, will never be the biggest player on his team, but what he may lack in size, the young forward makes up for in scoring ability, playmaking skills and an energetic personality with a lot of fire and grit.
While playing in the South Delta Minor Hockey Association, Gallagher was selected in the ninth round of the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft by the Vancouver Giants.
It was with the Giants that Gallagher made his WHL debut on September 20, 2008 against Everett. He scored his first WHL goal in just his second game, a 7-3 win over Prince George on September 26, and had three points in his first three games.
He had at least a point in five of seven games in October that season, and had 17 points in 23 games before the WHL went on holiday break for 2008.
Gallagher put up 14 more points from January through March, ending his rookie season with 10 goals, 21 assists and 61 penalty minutes in 52 games of a season where he was often used in a high-energy role.
The young forward’s sophomore season would see him score a team-high 41 goals, adding 40 assists for 81 points in 72 regular season games. He also had a career-high 111 penalty minutes (not including a pair of ten-minute misconducts) and and a penalty in 38 of 72 games.
His track record that year included 13 roughing penalties, three fighting majors, eight tripping minors and four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
The 2010 WHL playoffs saw Gallagher register 21 points in 16 games before the Giants were eliminated in the semifinals by the Tri-City Americans. Following his productive year, he was named Male Youth Athlete of the Year in Delta, British Columbia, and was drafted by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, 147th overall.
Coming out of Habs training camp, Gallagher returned to the Giants for another season in the WHL. He had five points in the first game of the season (2-3) and began the season with a 16-game point streak. He had fifteen goals and thirteen assists in that stretch.
He had at least a point in 52 of 66 games and ended the season with 44 goals, 47 assists and 108 penalty minutes. Gallagher missed part of the season due to a head injury but was eventually named to the WHL West First All-Star Team.
After another training camp with the Canadiens, Gallagher returned for his final season with the Giants. He scored 41 goals and 36 assists for 77 points in 54 games during the 2011-12 season, but also missed part of the season due to his participation in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships.
He had three goals and three assists as Canada won the bronze medal that year, and followed it up by returning to the Giants and shortly after being named captain of the team.
Once again, he was struck by injury but missed only a short stretch before returning to finish out the year strong. He ended the season having scored at least a point in 38 of 54 regular season games, and tallied ten points in six playoff games.
This season, it was time to move on. Gallagher began the season with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, making his debut on October 13, 2012 against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
He scored his first AHL goal on October 26 in a game against the Toronto Marlies, and had 20 points in 36 games before the NHL lockout ended and Gallagher was summoned to Canadiens training camp.
He made the team out of training camp and made his NHL debut on January 22, 2013 versus the Florida Panthers, notching an assist on fellow rookie Alex Galchenyuk’s first NHL goal.
Five days later, Brendan scored his first NHL goal against veteran netminder Martin Brodeur. As of February 20, he has eight points (5-3) in 13 games with the Canadiens and is currently sidelined (day-to-day) with a concussion.
He’s always got a smile on his face, and Brendan Gallagher has proven time and time again to be a well-rounded player who isn’t afraid to drop the gloves, can carry an outstanding play halfway down the ice and knows how to finish a shift with a solid goal – and the still-young forward has a bright future ahead.