For the second straight June, the Habs made a big deal out of nowhere, this time with the acquisition of Jonathan Drouin. Our writers weigh in with their thoughts on the trade.
Gordon Black: I think this is an unequivocal win for the Habs. Giving up a blue chip defensive prospect is always going to hurt – and if ‘Misha’ ever becomes a Norris calibre defender, there will be those that will second guess this deal. However, as promising as Mikhail Sergachev has looked, prospects can always bust. The risk in this deal is assumed by the Lightning and I don’t think they make this deal if their backs were not against the wall. Drouin has proven the level of talent he brings, and has done so in the NHL and especially in the playoffs. It is possible he could continue to improve as he is still only 22, but even if he doesn’t, he provides the kind of elite offence that this team has lacked for far too long.
Drouin is on the small side but is not a soft or perimeter player. He is a gifted playmaker that drives possession and play, while also owning a heavy and accurate shot. If he can play centre, that is an additional bonus but it isn’t necessary for this to be a great move for the Habs. His age, and the fact that he signed long-term for a reasonable cap-hit, make this the kind of deal too good to pass up.
Sergachev may turn out to be exactly the kind of player the Habs were hoping for when they drafted him at 9th, but he would still be few years away from reaching that level, even if he makes it. Drouin is a game breaker now – the kind of skilled forward you can almost never find outside of the top five of a draft. Defencemen often take far longer to develop and can be plucked later in the first or second rounds far more frequently. I really hope that Bergevin holds on to Galchenyuk (barring an opportunity to get an elite 1C in a package deal), as this summer will now be even longer waiting to see those two tear up the ice together in bleu-blanc-et-rouge.
Hilding Gnanapragasm: Hot on the heels of P.K. Subban coming within a whisker of the Stanley Cup, Marc Bergevin was among the most vilified sports figures in the city of Montreal. That may be something of an overstatement, but if ever there was a General Manager in need of a big win, it’s Bergevin – and he hit a massive home run with his acquisition of Jonathan Drouin.
The price was high in Sergachev, not to mention the possibility of a 2nd round pick in 2018. While Sergachev is deemed a can’t-miss prospect, though, there is no guarantee of what he will bring to the NHL. Plus, with all the talk of the Canadiens’ window of opportunity being small, it made good sense to turn a future can’t-miss defenceman into a current can’t-miss forward. To put it most simply, the Canadiens’ biggest need is for offence, and that is what Drouin will bring.
The wins don’t stop there for Bergevin. After dealing the electrifying Subban, Bergevin added the perfect candidate for a new fan darling in Jonathan Drouin. Not only does the 22 year-old phenom possess dazzling on-ice ability, but he also owns a Province de Quebec Birth Certificate and can talk about giving 110% in both official languages. He will be an instant hero in Montreal.
Bergevin punctuated his winning day with the quick contract signing. Not only did the general manager secure his new star for the long term, he did so at a reasonable rate – one that could even look like a bargain within the next year or so. Furthermore, the signing of Drouin gives Bergevin a great deal of leverage in his negotiations with free agent Alexander Radulov. At worst, Drouin insulates the Habs in the event that Radulov elects to chase the dollars elsewhere.
Brian La Rose: I have to say, I’m not a fan of what Drouin did, walking out on his team midway through the season. I’m also not a fan of the agent who has a tendency to bring about some unwanted negative attention on players and their teams at times despite his best intentions.
That said, I like the move…for now at least. Drouin is a top line forward with plenty of years of team control left. He’s someone that they can build around for a long time. Sergachev likely would have been there in time (I’m not sold on his NHL potential for this season – I don’t think he’s ready) but this team needs scoring help now.
The key next step for Bergevin is to find another good left shot defender, especially following the Nathan Beaulieu trade. Montreal’s depth there now is woefully weak and needs to be addressed. How he goes about addressing it (with Galchenyuk or otherwise) will help shape the final evaluation of this trade. So far, so good but that could change depending on what the follow-up move is.
Alex Létourneau: Right now, I love this trade. There’s superstar potential for a young man who can become an icon if he keeps trending the way he’s trending. That said, I really, really liked Sergachev. I expected him to fill a top-six role somewhere on the blueline, and I thought he’d fill it well. You have to give to get, and that’s what happened. Who knows what else will be in the works for the Habs, but it’s clear they’re still light down the middle and not bursting with talent on the back end. I don’t know if Galchenyuk gets traded, or if he gets another crack at centre with some firepower on either side of him.
As of now, Montreal looks like they can score goals. If Bergevin keeps what he has now, I’d be surprised, but on the whole, the Canadiens got better immediately after this trade. But, we’ll see what the team looks like as early as next week. Drouin has the potential to be among the elite, Sergachev as well. But one has proven he can do it in the show, the other one will have to. Both have work to do. Say what you want about Bergevin, but the guy has balls. Exciting.
Paul MacLeod: The Drouin trade was a shocker in so many ways. The Canadiens finally got a dynamic French-Canadian star with the potential to be a game breaker and who seems genuinely thrilled to have the opportunity to play in Montreal. Even more amazing is that the majority of the fan base and the press seemed happy with the deal. On the face of it, how could fans not like a deal that traded a junior defenceman who has the potential to be very good for a forward who has produced in the league and has the potential to be elite?
Well, I have two issues with the deal. First, Drouin is not a centre. They have moved two very valuable assets in Subban and Sergachev and still have a donut team, i.e., two holes where the top two centres should be. I like the deal for Drouin’s skill and ability to generate offence. I will be ecstatic if the Habs somehow manage to plug the holes at D and at centre without trading Galchenyuk. I could accept it if he is shipped out for a young, elite centre–and no, Matt Duchene does not fit either of those categories in my opinion.
Norm Szcyrek: Wow! I have to admit this trade surprised me. My first thought was that Bergevin must like making big trades in the month of June. With the trade for Drouin, the Habs added a young, playmaking winger who may or may not be able to adapt to the centre position the team desperately needs to fill. Jonathan is a very talented offensive forward, capable of taking fans out of their seats with impressive scoring ability. The troubles he had in Tampa are well documented and likely due to impatience with a lack of ice time because of the number of more experience Tampa forwards ahead of him. When several of their forwards were injured last season, he benefited from the extra ice time to post his best offensive numbers of his career so far. Drouin’s defensive game is lacking at this time but there’s hope coach Julien will have patience with him to help him develop his two way game. There’s no doubt the Habs need more scoring and Drouin will help in that category. It did not hurt that Jonathan is a native Quebecer which makes him an instant fan favourite.
Sergachev was the Habs best prospect and a high price to get Drouin. He is as close to a blue chip prospect and should make the jump to the pros next season. If not, or if he fails to play at least 40 game then the Habs will have to surrender a 2nd round pick which will be a tough pill to swallow since the Habs have a prospect poor depth chart. Tampa has total control over his playing time so it main be interesting to see if they allow him to start in the NHL next season. Since he has one year of junior eligibility left, he will need to make the team out of training camp for this to have a chance at happening. It was a little disappointing to learn Sergachev will no longer represent the Habs future on defence, but I understand Tampa’s need on defence made this player a priority for them to acquire.
This trade will likely means the Habs will target a defenceman in the upcoming draft with their #25 overall pick, unless a good centre is available.
Dave Woodward: The price was steep but the Habs’ desperate need for top six help makes the deal worthwhile. Please do not think for a moment that the deal does not elicit some apprehension for this writer. Every time Ryan McDonagh is seen in a Ranger uniform causes me to go into a funk for days. However, this deal is different than the Gomez fiasco.
Sergachev is most likely the real deal and his loss is profound. But the Habs’ priority needs are up front. The Canadiens have wasted another year of Carey Price’s prime for the simple reason that their offence is woefully inadequate. Without more firepower, they will never be a serious contender. With the 25th pick, the entry draft will not provide immediate help. The only available option for an immediate offensive upgrade was via trade.
The deal was all about disparate needs within the Lightning and Canadiens organizations. Tampa needed help on the back end and the Canadiens urgently required scoring now. This may well be a deal that helps both teams.
With this trade, the Habs acquired a 22-year old offensive stud with plenty of upside who dreamed of playing for his home Province Canadiens. Drouin will immediately improve their top six and may well be one of their top scorers for years. Such a player would never be available without giving up a significant asset. The Canadiens are much deeper at the back end than they are up front (at all levels of the organization). While the loss of their No.1 prospect hurts, I fully anticipate that Jonathan Drouin will ease the pain in the years to come.