The Habs have needed top six help for a while now and they took a big step towards improving that, acquiring left winger Jonathan Drouin and a conditional sixth round pick from Tampa Bay for Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional second rounder.
It didn’t take long for the two sides to reach an agreement on a long-term contract as Drouin, the third overall pick in 2013, has signed a six year, $33 million deal. The agreement also contains a limited no-trade clause in the final two years of the contract.
Both conditional picks are for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. If Sergachev plays 40 or more games (regular season and playoffs) next season, the picks won’t be exchanged and it will become a one for one swap. If not, the picks will be swapped. There’s no word yet as to which of the three Montreal second rounders in 2018 (CHI, MTL, WSH) will be encumbered.
The 22 year old Drouin is coming off a career year with the Bolts, scoring 21 goals and 32 assists in 73 games while averaging 17:43 of ice time. He also averaged just over 2.5 shots per game and for a team that doesn’t have a lot of pure shooters, that’s rather notable.
As for Sergachev, he was viewed as the future of Montreal’s back end after they drafted him ninth overall just one year ago. He got into four games with the Habs this season and was held off the scoresheet while averaging just over 12 minutes per game. He spent most of the season with OHL Windsor, tallying 10 goals and 33 assists in 50 regular season games while also playing a big role in their Memorial Cup championship.
Drouin has played centre in the past but has primarily been a winger at the NHL level so while his addition is certainly a welcome one in terms of scoring, it doesn’t really solve their need down the middle. Accordingly, it seems fair to wonder if they’ll either give pending RFA Alex Galchenyuk another crack at that spot or if his odds of being moved for a centre just got a whole lot higher.
Montreal’s defensive future on the left side just got a lot more questionable as well. With Nathan Beaulieu reportedly in play in advance of expansion, there really isn’t much for the long term on that side. Victor Mete and Simon Bourque become the top prospects on the left but both aren’t close to NHL ready and project as complementary players. All of a sudden, drafting a defenceman early in the draft becomes a real possibility.