The first bombshell of the NHL offseason was dropped Thursday afternoon when the Montreal Canadiens acquire Jonathan Drouin and a conditional 2018 6th from the Lightning in exchange for Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional 2017 2nd.
If Sergachev plays in 40 games next season (including playoffs), then neither pick is swapped, however if he does not play 40 games, both picks are swapped.
The Habs then signed Drouin to a 6 year, 33 million dollar extension, averaging $5.5 million dollars per year.
Drouin, 22, absolutely fills a need of the Habs in the scoring department, but it remains to be seen what position the Habs see him playing in the future. Drouin has played all three forward positions in his career, and this trade would absolutely be a win for the Habs if he can materialize into center. The Habs are desperate for a top line center, with Phillip Danault as their current top line center. This also directly impacts Alex Galchenyuk’s future in Montreal. It’s been rumored for months that Galchenyuk could be on the move, and this trade makes in all the more likely that Marc Bergevin could flip him for a center or defenseman. Drouin, who held out on the Lightning after being sent to the AHL in 2015, has put up 29 goals and 66 assists in 164 NHL games. The 3rd overall pick in 2013 has incredible talent, and the sky’s the limit for this kid.
Giving up Sergachev hurts for the Habs however. He was the 9th overall pick in last years draft and flourished for the Memorial Cup winning Windsor Spitfires. Some think the 18 year old has #1 defenseman potential, and the Habs could’ve used a defenseman like Sergachev for the future. 31 year old Shea Weber whose contract won’t expire until the sun burns out is their current top defenseman, but following Jeff Petry there is a significant drop off. Alexei Emelin, Jordie Benn, and Brandon Davidson are the only other defenseman under contract, with Nathan Beaulieu as an RFA and old man Andrei Markov as an UFA. It hurts for the Habs, but that’s the price you have to pay to get a player like Drouin.
As for Tampa, this deal win an absolute win to me. They acquire a young defenseman that they have coveted for years, while freeing much needed cap space. Sure, Drouin will hurt, but having Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Brayden Point certainly soften the blow of losing him. They also have to sign Johnson, Palat, and Andrej Sustr with roughly 17.5 million in cap space (as of last year’s salary cap), so trading Drouin opens up cap space for the Lightning to sign their RFAs and potentially add in order to hopefully bounce back to Cup contender status. Drouin also needs to be protected in the expansion draft, so swapping him out for Sergachev opens up a protection slot that can be used to protect Alex Killorn or Vlad Namestinkov.
This is a trade we’ll look back on for years, and it very well may end up even in the end. For next season, they trade will almost undoubtedly help Montreal more, however if we revisit this trade in 10 years, who knows?
And this is just the first deal of Silly Season.
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