As the dust settles on the blockbuster trade involving Mikhail Sergachev and Jonathan Drouin, it’s clear both sides added some fire power to their lineups. For Montreal they added an incredibly talented, 22-year-old winger who immediately makes their top six much more formidable.
Drouin is a versatile piece, able to play both wings, and brings a creativity as a playmaker that is sorely needed. With his skills and production, it’s not hard to envisioning him sliding in alongside Max Pacioretty on the top line, or if Alexander Radulov returns, onto the second line opposite Brendan Gallagher. Assuming Alex Galchenyuk remains in Montreal as well there’s a dynamic pairing to be formed between himself and Drouin, depending on which wing the newly acquired forward will play on. Galchenyuk’s finishing ability will mesh well with the outstanding playmaking of Drouin, something the Habs have needed in their top six for a long time.
Last season Drouin sported a 52CF%, along with controlling 53.64% of scoring chances while he was on the ice.
The offence struggled to get in gear in the post season for the Canadiens, even their top stars failed to find the back of the net in a six game series against the Rangers. Marc Bergevin clearly wanted to fix this, and after seeing the dynamic play of Radulov, he acquired a player who boasts the same creative skill set, and is yet to enter the prime of his career. From the Habs perspective on this, there’s a lot to love, as they made their forward group younger, and more skilled, which is a key attribute for teams that made length Stanley Cup runs recently.
However, in return for acquiring a rising star, Marc Bergevin also had to part with an extremely valuable asset. 2016 first-round pick Mikhail Sergachev will now join the Tampa Bay organization after just one year in the Canadien’s prospect pool. Sergachev is obviously a major piece, and the Habs’ top prospect. This past year he helped lead the Windsor Spitfires to a Memorial Cup victory. The issue being that due to his age, he either has to play in the NHL, or return to the OHL for another year. In Montreal there’s a major backlog on defence, and there’s no guarantee that he’d break into the line up on a regular basis under Claude Julien. As it stands the Canadiens have Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Nathan Beaulieu, Jakub Jerabek, Brandon Davidson, Jordie Benn, Nikita Nesterov and Alexei Emelin penciled in on defence.
He also isn’t part of what is likely a “win now” mindset for the Habs, who have a Cup window that is closing rapidly with each passing year. Drouin becomes an immediate impact player in the Habs line up, and while Sergachev has the potential to become an impact player, he currently wouldn’t be that in Montreal.
The other issue arises in the fact that Drouin is an RFA who also must now be protected in the upcoming expansion draft. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as his introduction to the lineup may force Bergevin to expose a player like Andrew Shaw or Tomas Plekanec. Even more likely though is that Bergevin isn’t finished wheeling and dealing yet, meaning he likely has a few more deals in the works through the days leading up to the draft.
As for Drouin, TSN’s Bob McKenzie makes a note that most players of his caliber receive a fairly sizable contract coming off their ELC.
Drouin is RFA. Potential stars coming off ELC usually get 5 or 6 x $6M, give or take $500K. So a range of $5.5M to $6.5M. No prob for MTL.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 15, 2017
The cap space is not an issue as Montreal has plenty to spare, but it’s interesting to see how this could impact the re-signing of Alex Galchenyuk, as he will likely be looking for a similar deal to Drouin, if not more.
It’s a complex deal between two divisional rivals, involving two potential future superstar players. In the end it’s entirely possible that both teams come out winners in this trade. Tampa Bay bolsters a defence with a young, cheap, elite prospect, and gets relief on their cap situation. Montreal adds a native son, who is one of the most electrifying young talents in the NHL. Marc Bergevin likely isn’t done yet, but this was one massive way to start his off season.