Who Is Jonathan Drouin?


Contrarily to what some want you to believe, trading in today’s National Hockey League is far from easy. As a matter of fact, since the implementation of the hard salary cap back in 2005, the number of trades completed have dropped more than half of what they were prior to it. It’s easy to understand why. Teams obviously have to look at the fiscal impact on their team, and they also have to plan ahead, looking at whose contracts will need to be renewed in the foreseeable future. Hockey is a business more than ever and Habs’ fans had a hard reality of it when team General Manager Marc Bergevin had to let lifetime defenseman Andrei Markov walk away to the KHL late this summer.

Getting some young and productive talent at a reasonable cap hit is what will often make the difference in the mid to long term and Bergevin understands that. When he completed yet again one of the biggest trades of the summer in acquiring 22 year-old Jonathan Drouin, in exchange for blue-chip prospect Mikhail Sergachev, the Canadiens’ GM landed a top-end offensive juggernaut for a player who might (or not) become a stud on defense… but there is no denying that he is the one who received the proven asset versus potential.

Immediately after the trade was announced, Bergevin was on the phone negotiating a shiny new contract with Drouin’s agent, Allan Walsh (yes, him), agreeing to a six year, $33 million contract, ensuring that there was no doubt about the commitment between the team and the newly acquired fan favourite.

Who exactly is Drouin?

Jonathan Drouin was born on March 28, 1995 in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec. Few people remember that as a 17 year-old, he failed to make the roster to start the season with Halifax in the QMJHL despite being the second pick in the entry draft, so he had to return to play AAA midget hockey, until he was called up by Halifax December 9, 2011. Drouin made an immediate impact, getting two assists in his first game, including the primary assist on the winning goal. From that point, Drouin proved to be one of the top players in all of junior hockey. As a matter of fact, Drouin was named player of the year in the CHL. He was then chosen with the third pick overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2013 NHL Draft, two spots behind his Halifax linemate Nathan MacKinnon.

Drouin was among the final cuts in his first training camp with the Lightning and was returned to Halifax for another season, where he finished with 108 points in 46 games in 2013-14 and had 41 points in 16 playoff games. He joined the Lightning in the 2014-15 season, playing in 70 games, and enjoyed a breakthrough in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he had 14 points in 17 games, including four goals in the Eastern Conference Final.

Dispute with Tampa Bay

In a much publicized even, Drouin’s dispute with the Lightning drew a lot of negative attention on himself starting in January 2016. It was no secret that there was a relationship issue between Drouin and Lightning coach Jon Cooper, and one day after being reassigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, Walsh issued a statement on behalf of his client. The agent revealed that Drouin had made a trade request back in November, but had kept the matter private. Walsh referred to it as an untenable situation and that it was in everyone’s best interest that Drouin be allowed to move on and play hockey.

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While some people claimed that he was a head-case, others said that he was given bad advice from the people around him. Either way, this wasn’t good news for either the Lightning or the player. But Lighting GM Steve Yzerman stuck to his guns and on January 20, 2016, he suspended him indefinitely without pay for a failure to report to the Crunch’s game against the Toronto Marlies. It’s not until March 8, 2016 that Drouin finally reported to Syracuse for the first time since being suspended. On April 4th, the Lightning called up Drouin from the AHL after a nine-game stint, a stretch in which he recorded nine goals and an assist. The young forward wasted no time making his presence felt as he scored the game-winning goal in his first game back with Tampa Bay.

Impact of the trade for the Habs

No one understands better the need for local talent with the Canadiens than Bergevin and team President Geoff Molson, and getting arguably the best young Quebecois in the entire NHL was a very impactful feat in itself. As we have touched on this very blog back in May, there was no doubt that if Drouin was made available, the Habs would be all in… and they were!

As much as people loved P.K. Subban, Jonathan Drouin will have an even bigger impact. He’s a mature young man, well beyond his age, and he speaks the language of his fans in his home province. Before even putting foot on the ice, he has already been utilized by the organization for many public appearances and marketing events, and fans have responded to him in a very positive manner, making him feel welcome. Of course, what he does on the ice is what will matter most, but judging from what he has already shown in the NHL, at such a young age, the future certainly appear to be bright for both the player and the Canadiens’ organization. Training with team captain Max Pacioretty, Drouin seems to have already found a home in Montreal. Until we get to see him work his magic in a Habs’ uniform, let’s enjoy together a few highlights of what he has done and what’s to come for the fans. After watching this, you will join me in wishing that the season started now! Go Habs Go!



Smack Down the Middle


Let’s first give credit where credit is due. The idea came about this afternoon when CTV’s own Brian Wilde tweeted a couple of one-two punch at centre for some teams, pointing out to the difference with the Canadiens. This came about after a Western Conference executive told him that the Habs only had three top-6 forwards on the team… Guy Carbonneau seems to agree as he came to Michel Therrien’s defense after the loss against the Bruins by saying that the coach is going hunting with sling-shots!

Further, I have been claiming loud and hard in the off-season that this team cannot be considered a serious contender as long as it has Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais and Lars Eller as its top-3 centres. Well, they switched Alex Galchenyuk to centre and placed Eller on the wing… with mixed results so far.

Because I happen to agree with that unnamed NHL executive quoted by Mr. Wilde and since we had recently explained that the Canadiens’ need to improve at centre, I figured it would be a great complement to this first article to compare the current Canadiens’ centres to some other teams across the NHL. Without further due, here are the top centres across some of the teams:


Compare that with Plekanec, Galchenyuk, Desharnais, Eller… If you’re honest with yourself and know the players mentioned in the table above, you’ll recognize how disproportionate this is.

What the Canadiens do have that few teams have is, when he’s healthy, the best goaltender in the game, which helps cover for the lack of natural scoring ability, size and quality up the middle. While it will never be mistaken with the great group of the 70’s Canadiens, the addition of Jeff Petry has solidified the defense.

It’s great to see that Marc Bergevin really wants Jonathan Drouin, a local talent and recent 3rd overall pick, even if it means having to deal with this awful agent that is Allan Walsh. And even if Drouin’s stocks will likely fall a bit after the Lightning suspended him for refusing to play, it is still very unlikely that he gets him.

Bergevin is on the right track. A young player with top-6 potential and who would be with the team for a long time is a smart move. He does however also needs one more top-6 forward and that one might be best to come from the pending free agents’ market at the trade deadline. With names like Steven Stamkos, Eric Staal and David Backes being possibly available, those players might decide to re-sign if they accept to wave their no-trade clauses to come to Montreal.

The fact is that status quo is not an option for the Canadiens’ GM at this point. It is unfortunate because he is now dealing in a position of weakness, other teams seeing him coming from miles and they are in no hurry to bail them out. If he wants quality, he’ll have to pay for it. But he must help his coaching staff to stop that terrible slide they are on.