Wow, does Marc Bergevin love making a splash in the off-season. Last year it was the Shea Weber for PK Subban trade that shut down twitter and various hockey forums online, and now he pulls off another blockbuster trade that has the hockey world still buzzing. Last week, the Canadiens acquired Jonathan Drouin, a former 3rd overall selection by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft for prized prospect Mikhail Sergachev, the 9th pick by the Habs last year. Can it get any bigger than that this off-season? That’s a tough standard for other GMs around the league to match.
The offensively challenged Habs, who managed to only score a meager 11 goals in 6 games in their first round match-up against the New York Rangers, added one of the top young offensive threat in the game today. There is no denying that Drouin is as talented offensively as there is in the league, he has the speed, the puck moving ability, the passing and the shot to become an elite player in today’s NHL. Coming off his first full NHL season where he scored 21 goals and added 32 assists in 73 games for the Bolts last year, there will be tons of pressure on Drouin this upcoming October. Being born and raise in Quebec and now coming home to his home province, whether it is warranted or not, Drouin will be looked upon as a saviour of sort. Looking back a decade, through all the Bob Gainey/Guy Carbonneau teams, or when Jacques Martin was the Head Coach and to recently the downfall of the Michel Therrien era, I can’t remember a player with as much offensive skill since the days of Alex Kovalev.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a steal. I know, I know, everyone loves to have the new toy, the new prospect, the unknown mystery. And there have been tons of scouting report on how talented Mikhail Sergachev is. I am not saying Sergachev is a bust, I truly believe he can become a top 4 NHL defensemen, maybe as early as next season. Sergachev is a blue chip prospect coming off a Memorial Cup win, where he was named to the first team. But this is not like last year, where the Canadiens acquired a player that is over 30 years old with a 10 year long contract. Drouin is only 22, and is just coming off his first full NHL season. Lets be honest here, the only reason Steve Yzerman was looking to trade Drouin was that with the pending Expansion Draft, Yzerman would had to have used up a spot protecting him and risk losing one of his other star player for free. Sergachev offers Yzerman his solution to his quagmire, the ability to have a potential NHL ready defenseman exempt for the Expansion Draft, thus allowing him to protect Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. I can’t predict unforeseen events but I think it is safe to say that if the Vegas Golden Knights were not entering the league, Drouin would still be a Tampa Bay Lightning today.
And to top it off, as if it was icing on top of the cake, it was announced at the press conference that the pending restricted free agent Drouin had just signed a new contract with the Canadiens. For a cap hit of just 5.5 million for the next 6 years, I am excited as ever for this fall when the Habs open their season in Buffalo. Bergevin did leave us wondering in his press conference, to “expect the unexpected”. And with still 3 months and change left until the puck drops, I just hope with all the pending Galchenyuk trade rumours and Radulov unknown free agency, Bergevin doesn’t mess up the great move he just made.