For new general manager Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens to build a long-term Stanley Cup contender, they must hold onto top prospect Alex Galchenyuk.
The third overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft is making great progress with the OHL's Sarnia Sting this season. He has scored 11 goals with 17 assists in 18 games.
His career high in scoring for the Sting was set during the 2010-11 season, when he racked up 83 points, but he's on pace to break that mark this year.
He is the only elite center in the organization and one of the few forwards with real star potential. It would be foolish to let Galchenyuk go without giving him enough time to develop his remarkable skills.
Finding true top-line centers is difficult, so Canadiens fans must be patient with Galchenyuk because he is a star in the making.
If Galchenyuk continues to progress at his current pace, there's no reason to believe that the young forward will fail to become the Canadiens' No. 1 center in the near future.
Lars Eller and Tomas Plekanec are the two best centers on the NHL roster going into next season, and when Galchenyuk joins them after the 2012-13 season, the Canadiens will turn a position of weakness into a real strength.
Montreal's impressive number of quality players on the wings such as Max Pacioretty, Erik Cole and Brian Gionta would really benefit from playing alongside someone who has Galchenyuk's playmaking talent.
He's the type of center who can maximize the offensive production of his teammates with the great passing, awareness and vision that he displays each game. His size is also impressive at 6'2" and 205 pounds.
One advantage that Galchenyuk has over a lot of talented offensive players is that he works so hard in the defensive zone and understands the importance of playing good defense. This is the kind of two-way player you hang on to.
A future line featuring top prospects Sebastian Collberg and Galchenyuk would be exciting to watch in Montreal, and it's possible that in two or three years, these young players could be in the NHL full-time. Both have the ability to become All-Star caliber players for many years.
Louis LeBlanc is another good young center who could have a breakout season in 2012-13 if the lockout ends.
These three players represent a bright future for the Canadiens at forward, and it would be unwise to ruin this organizational depth by trading one of these players away.
Galchenyuk is a rare talent and is the player for the Canadiens to build around for the next decade. Trading him anytime in the next few years would be a massive mistake.
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