Ever since Jonathan Drouin and his agent set all of social media on fire by announcing to the world than Drouin had requested a trade, every fan base has been asking what it would take to acquire the former third overall pick. This question has been echoing in the hallways of the Colorado Avalanche fan base even more than most given the history between Drouin and budding Avalanche superstar, Nathan MacKinnon. Well, the bell must have swung back the other direction again, because the reverberations are back again, louder than ever thanks to Bleacher Report’s Adrian Dater.
Picking up renewed chatter that Drouin is in play with Avs. Bigras and/or pick could be in play. Others making new calls to TB too though
— Adrian Dater (@adater) January 30, 2016
I’ve had a difficult time deciding my own personal position on this possible deal, trying to figure out if it would even be worth it. My Colorado Avalanche cohort here on The Hockey Writers, Sebastian Hedley-Noble has made his thoughts on it known, basically saying it’s a nice dream but not a reality. This very well may be, but with the latest rumblings it’s time to weight the dreams vs. the realities of this potential deal.
Dreams vs. Reality
Dream 1: Drouin’s actions have completely destroyed his trade value, it should be pretty easy to acquire him.
There’s no doubt that Drouin’s actions, especially the ones that led the Tampa Bay Lightning to suspend him indefinitely, without pay, definitely raise a red flag. Still, Steve Yzerman isn’t going to just let Drouin go for a pittance. Drouin is a former third overall pick and still has a huge upside to him. Yes, his maturity can definitely be questioned with these series of events; but maturity can often be solved by finding yourself with the right coach. The bottom line is that Drouin has the skill to play in the NHL and, as long as a player has the skill, somebody will likely give him a chance.
The other side of this is that the Colorado Avalanche, specifically, wouldn’t be able to acquire Drouin for just draft picks. Even assuming that draft picks would be all it would take, the Avalanche currently sit with 50 contracts on the books, which is the maximum allowed by any team. So even if that’s all the Avalanche actually needed to send, it wouldn’t be approved by the league. Players would have to be involved and, again, Yzerman isn’t going to just take anybody.
Dream 2: Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin together again! Their chemistry would immediately carry over.
Sebastian did a great job describing exactly how dominant this pair was:
Together on the first line for the Mooseheads, Drouin and MacKinnon were just plain dominant. In two seasons through 2011-2013, MacKinnon played in 102 regular season games for Halifax and amassed 153 points. In the playoffs, he was even more dominant, playing in 34 games, totaling 61 points.
Jonathan Drouin, MacKinnons left-winger in Halifax, played three seasons(one more than MacKinnon, as Drouin did not make the Lightning right after being drafted) with the Mooseheads. Skating in 128 regular season games and putting up 242 points, along with 102 points in 50 playoff games.
If these two were able to pick things up right where they left off, then that would be amazing. The reality of this happening is something entirely different. It has been three years since these guys have played together and their careers have taken completely different paths. MacKinnon adjusted to the NHL pretty quickly, winning the Calder Trophy and currently second on the Avalanche in scoring with 41 points. Drouin had a hot start this season before becoming familiar with the press box again just as he was during Tampa Bay’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. The dream of the dynamic duo that was the Halifax MacKinnon and Drouin is certainly alluring, but assuming that it would automatically come to be again is, as Sebastian says, a dream.
Dream 3: The Avalanche have the pieces to move him, no problem.
I will agree with this statement to a point, the Avalanche definitely do have the pieces necessary to acquire Jonathan Drouin. That being said, I’m not so sure any of the pieces that would actually get the trade done are the type that wouldn’t be noticed. With St. Louis reportedly being willing to part with Kevin Shattenkirk in order to acquire Drouin, it’s hard to believe that the likes of Tyson Barrie wouldn’t be expected if the Avalanche were to do business with Tampa Bay. Even if the price is Chris Bigras, as Adrian Dater suggests, that hardly falls under the flag of “no problem.” Bigras is a big-time prospect for the Avalanche that Joe Sakic and many of the front office have been high on ever since his first training camp. He’s the type of player that the Avalanche have had marked as a cornerstone of future blue lines for years to come.
The player that I think the Avalanche would be willing to part with, especially since it seems that Tampa Bay is looking for a defenseman of some kind to come back, would be Duncan Siemens. The question that comes up with Siemens is would he be enough? His trade value has plummeted since he has had a difficult time being able to make the leap to the NHL from the AHL. So now it becomes even more complicated because now they have to package players and you have to gauge whether or not you have to now ask for draft picks or other players back, as well.
The conclusion for this is annoyingly inconclusive. I do like the idea of Jonathan Drouin possibly coming over to the Avalanche for one big reason, he could solidify the top-six on the Colorado Avalanche. Right now, there is a big gap on the Nathan MacKinnon line, opposite of Matt Duchene. This gap is currently being filled by Alex Tanguay but frequently sees a bit of a rotating door whenever Tanguay doesn’t seem to be playing too well, which is an all-too-often occurrence. Drouin has the skill set to play very well with Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, and that group together has the chance to be incredibly scary for the rest of the league. At the same time, all his antics in Tampa Bay now make me wonder what would happen if Patrick Roy starts to get on Drouin’s case a bit, as he tends to do with Mikhail Grigorenko. I’m not sure Drouin has the mental fortitude to deal with being challenged like that.
The final thing that worries me about Jonathan Drouin to the Avalanche is the price. Tyson Barrie, Chris Bigras and players like this are too much. The main issue for the Avalanche is not their ability to score goals, it is their defensive abilities. To let either of those players go would be a gigantic mistake for the Avalanche and should be met by a swift “no, thank you” from Joe Sakic should either of those names come up. But, if it comes down to something like Duncan Siemens and a second round pick, that is suddenly a lot easier to take.
At the end of the day, I just can’t see a way where both teams will be happy enough to make a deal happen.