It hasn't exactly been a secret that Jonathan Drouin and the Tampa Bay Lightning have been having a rough go of it. He hasn't seen very much ice time, and when he has, he hasn't always been used properly. That has not stopped him from giving the world tantalizing glimpses of the player he could be.
Then today, Drouin's agent, Allan Walsh, made the following statement:
A statement from pic.twitter.com/Vhwet1IpTW— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) agent Allan Walsh regarding his client's future in TB: January 3, 2016
While a trade demand will not necessarily result in the management staff obliging, any time a player of his talent level becomes potentially available, it is worth looking at the possibility.
Drafted third overall behind Nathan MacKinnon and Aleksander Barkov in 2013, Drouin has played 89 NHL games, and amassed 40 points (6 goals and 34 assists). While at first glance, those numbers may look underwhelming, that by no means tells the full story.
A native of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, Drouin is an elite level talent who has gotten next to no ice time. For whatever reason, be it depth or Jon Cooper's roster decisions, his average time on ice per game was 10.7 minutes last year, and 11.6 this year.
Despite this low ice time, he still managed to contribute 24 assists last year, and his possession stats, as you can see from the graph, are quite strong. His goal-scoring, though lacklustre in the NHL, was phenomenal at every other level of play.
Drafted as a right winger, he played his final year in Junior as a centre, collecting an impressive 108 points in 46 games (29 goals, 79 assists), and has spent most of his career in Tampa as a left winger. He is incredibly offensively gifted, and part of the reason for his slow progress in the NHL is the emphasis on defence that Tampa has asked him to bring to his game. Furthermore, he is only 20, and his potential has scarcely been tapped.
Habs fans have been grumpy about Alex Galchenyuk's limited ice time given his points per 60, but he is getting substantially more ice time than Drouin, who is still producing. Of course, his most frequent linemates have been Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan, which does help, but given his skills, those are the players he should be playing with.
At even strength, he leads the Lightning in points per sixty among players with over ten games.
Stats via WAR On Ice
Given Drouin's pedigree, talent, age, and the Habs' position as division rival, the price would be high, but ultimately worth it. Such a package would probably look like the following: Sven Andrighetto, Jarred Tinordi, and one of Montreal's two second-round draft picks in this year's draft in exchange for Drouin and a salary dump like Mattias Ohlund.
Drouin still has one year of his entry-level contract left, and his upside is much higher than Andrighetto's in the long run. Moreover, while it would be a wrench giving up Tinordi to a division rival, the Habs are deep enough at defence that they can afford to give him up for a chance at a player like Drouin. Ohlund's cap hit is $3.6M, but he is on LTIR, and thus would hardly be a factor.
There may be some cause for hesitation, given the Canadiens' track record with other skilled and underutilized clients of Allan Walsh, most notably P-A Parenteau and Jiri Sekac, and whether Drouin would fit in with Michel Therrien's coaching style. But he would look awfully good in the Habs' top six — on either wing — for a very long time.
As mentioned, Drouin is on an ELC, and. therefore, Yzerman has control of his young player's fate, so it's entirely possible that he does not trade him at all. Furthermore, if he does move Drouin, he probably doesn't want to be shipping him off to one of Tampa Bay's biggest divisional rivals.
That said, this is the kind of trade Marc Bergevin likes to make, acquiring younger, more talented players at their cheapest possible value, and managing his cap such that he can take on players like Ohlund for the chance to lock up players like Drouin.