On June 15, 2017, Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin shook the hockey world once again. He traded 2016 first-round pick and top prospect Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional second-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for young and talented French-Canadian Jonathan Drouin and a conditional sixth-round pick.
Last offseason, Bergevin kicked things off when he traded defenceman P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. This year, he’s shifted his focus to improving the Canadiens up front. By bringing in Drouin, Bergevin has acquired an offensive force that immediately changes the look of the top six. While he still has some work to do, trading for and signing the young forward is a good start for the Habs, who are entering a pivotal offseason.
There should be many more player acquisitions to discuss in the coming weeks but for now, Canadiens fans, let’s get to know Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, native and now Montreal Canadien, Jonathan Drouin.
Age: 22 — Height: 5-foot-11 — Weight: 188 pounds
Jonathan Drouin was drafted by the Lightning third overall in the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft. He played his junior hockey for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where he totaled 77 goals and 242 points in 128 games played. He has since split time between the Lighting and their American Hockey League Affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. His NHL totals to date are 29 goals and 95 points in 164 games played.
It’s well known that during his time in Tampa Bay, Drouin and the Lightning didn’t see eye-to-eye. The dispute began because of playing time and that he felt ready to take on a full-time NHL role while the Lightning didn’t. Drouin requested a trade but general manager Steve Yzerman held his ground and kept the disgruntled forward.
Drouin would eventually publically rescind his trade request and go on to be a key player for Tampa both in the regular season and playoffs. Now as a Canadien, Drouin signed his new six-year, $5.5 million-per-season contract and will be under team control through age 28.
What Drouin Brings to the Canadiens
It’s no secret what the Canadiens are lacking. The Habs have been consistently outmatched offensively under Bergevin. Before the acquisition of Drouin, Alexander Radulov was the only new legitimate top-six forward he had brought into the fold during his tenure. While he still hasn’t figured out the center situation, he now has a proven young offensive weapon for coach Claude Julien to move around the top of the lineup.
Drouin will help Shea Weber on the Habs’ anemic power play and will hopefully aid Radulov in the playmaking department, depending on the future of the pending unrestricted free agent. There is even talk Drouin could play some center. With only Phillip Danault, Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec on the roster for middlemen, there is a big need for another body. Though Drouin’s versatility is an asset, I expect Bergevin to try to upgrade this position from outside the organization.
It’s hard to acquire young talent and Bergevin is learning that. Giving up prized prospect Sergachev couldn’t have been easy. Having top prospect Noah Juulsen most likely made him more comfortable with losing another young defenceman. Also, the fact that Drouin is only 22 years old helps as well. Overall, Drouin gives the Canadiens a new dynamic element up front for at least the next six seasons.
I love the trade for the Habs. They traded away a top prospect in Sergachev but as is the case for any young player not in the league, he’s no sure thing. With Drouin, the Canadiens know what they’re getting.
He’s shown the ability to take over a game and has a knack for making others around him better. Only Radulov and goaltender Carey Price have shown the same ability to elevate others on the ice.
Another bonus for the Canadiens is that Drouin knows what it means to wear the CH. Not only is he French-Canadian, but he knows the market and knows what to expect from the fishbowl that is Montreal. There’s no doubt that there will be highs and lows but the Canadiens and Drouin seem to be a perfect match for each other. It’ll be fun to watch it materialize on the ice in October.
Nick Guido is a Montreal Canadiens Contributor for The Hockey Writers. You can Follow him on Twitter @nickguidoTHW for his articles, opinions and general Habs talk.