With the expansion draft looming, one player the Seattle Kraken should be looking into is Jonathan Drouin. The 26-year-old center is in the prime of his career but has struggled to meet expectations in Montreal. Drouin is still producing but as noted in Blain Potvin’s piece titled “Canadiens and the Jonathan Drouin Situation,” it may be time for the Montreal Canadiens to move on from the former third-overall pick.
Still a Very Good Player
Despite his point total drying up, Drouin still created chances this season. He had a 58.2 percent Corsi for percentage in all situations this season and led all Canadiens with a 62.8 percent shots through percentage. Despite those positives, he finished the season with two goals and a 2.6 percent shooting percentage. He seemed to have found some chemistry with Nick Suzuki and Josh Anderson this season, but despite creating chances, the trio was unable to find the back of the net on a consistent basis.
Due to his point totals dropping and not living up to expectations, Drouin has been criticized by Montreal fans and media. With the expansion draft looming, this could be an opportunity for Seattle to get a young, offensively minded center. This deal could benefit all sides as Montreal clears salary, Seattle gets a young core piece to build around, and Drouin can reset and not face the constant criticism.
When acquiring Drouin, there is one question that needs to be answered. Will the Canadiens expose him for the expansion draft or is this an asset that needs to be traded in a separate deal? Here is what each option could look like:
Montreal will need to expose two of the following forwards per the expansion draft rules based on their current roster construction and contracts signed: Jonathan Drouin, Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, Jake Evans and Paul Byron.
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Brendan Gallagher has a no-movement clause, so two of these five must be left exposed unless he waives the clause. Based on each player’s on-ice performance, Drouin and Byron seem to be the odd ones out. If the list does look like this, now Seattle has to determine if Drouin is worth picking. There are other options like Brett Kulak, Cale Fleury, and Jake Allen, but none are as enticing as the young centreman.
There is also a possibility that Montreal offers an additional asset for Seattle to take Drouin due to his contract. His cap hit for the next two seasons is $5.5 million. Montreal has some big contracts to renew this summer and next, and will need all the cap space they can find. Players like Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Arturri Lehkonen, Joel Armia and Philip Danault all need new contracts this offseason while Nick Suzuki, Jake Evans and Alexander Romanov need to be negotiated next offseason. Having an additional $5.5 million could be beneficial, especially if the Canadiens want to build around their young stars. Some may view giving a pick away to be excessive, but in a flat-cap world, a team needs to use every avenue available to clear cap space. Throwing in a fourth-round pick may be enough to sway Seattle to take his contract off the books.
Since the playoffs started, Montreal has been very reluctant to play Romanov, as his only action came in Game 4 against the Winnipeg Jets. The defenceman played 54 games this season, but seems to have lost the coach’s trust during this playoff run. It is important to note that Canadiens head coach Dominque Ducharme did state he is excited to see what Romonov’s future holds, but the fact he has such little trust in his play during the postseason is concerning. Seattle could use this as an opportunity to not just acquire a playmaking center, but also the young Russian defenceman.
Montreal will be hesitant to move on from Romanov, so Seattle may have to give up some draft capital to acquire him. Seattle currently holds the 35th-overall pick in this year’s draft. If the Kraken were to send that pick to the Canadiens, would it be enough to get Romanov and Drouin? There is also the possibility that Seattle could use additional picks acquired through the expansion draft process if Montreal is hesitant to trade. Both players look as though they need a change of scenery, with the Emerald City being the perfect spot for them.
Less Pressure Could Mean More Success
Getting Drouin means acquiring a playmaking center with high-end skill who can produce at a first-line pace given the right situation. Without the added pressure of being a hometown kid, he may be able to re-find his game. Seattle should seriously consider Drouin in the expansion draft as his potential outweighs anyone else available on Montreal’s roster.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.