Rabid Habs

The Forum: Drouin In Montreal

It’s been something of an odd off-season for your Montreal Canadiens. The acquisition of Jonathan Drouin hasn’t been the talk of the town the way you might have expected. We asked our contributors what kind of impact they expect Drouin to have both on and off the ice in Montreal.

Sean O’Neill (@TheONeillFactor) – I’ve been critical of Bergevin in the past, but I must admit that I’m a big fan of the Drouin deal. Even if Sergachev becomes a top-pairing blueliner, the trade was worth the risk for a team who’s ostensibly in win-now mode. Is there a chance Drouin busts-out or can’t handle the pressure or is merely a 55-point player? Absolutely. But for a team, dying for secondary scoring, this was a swing-for-the-fences deal that could be worth the trouble.

The bigger issue, however, is that even with Drouin in the fold, I’m not sure what this team’s long-term plan is. They have won one playoff round in the past three seasons combined and seem content to eek into the playoffs and hope that Carey Price gets hot (a strategy, for the record, that hasn’t really worked for any Cup winning team since the ’06 Hurricanes). There is still no first-line centre, still no puck-moving defenceman, and precious few trade assets for the team to use going forward. $8.5 million in cap space is all well and good but what, exactly, is MB gonna dangle as trade bait to bring in the long-awaited missing piece? I expect more of the same in 2017-2018 (which, granted, wasn’t horrible) followed by a pretty swift decline in the next few years.,

Kyle Roussel (@kyleroussel) – I hate to mail it in, but I feel the exact same way as Sean. The Habs were (and probably still are) desperate for offence, and Drouin should help to answer that to a point (after all he replaces Radulov’s numbers). Who knows how the pressures of being the hometown glory boy will affect him but the risk was not only worth it, but I’d say almost necessary. The only critique of the deal is that Sergachev should have been used in a deal to land the perpetually elusive top line center. I figure a 60-point season would be a success, and anything under 50 points would be a disappointment (assuming he was healthy and given proper TOI, linemates, etc). Let’s just hope that expectations are kept in check and that we avoid the extremes of retiring his jersey after his first good game, or trading him during his first slump.

Like Sean, I’m also very skeptical of the wider strategy; that of relying on Price to be THE difference during this window that is going to slam shut before we know it. I expect another good regular season to stoke false playoff hopes and another off-season of major upheaval.

Ian Boisvert (@Boisvertian) – As a kid from Connecticut, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what it means to have a French superstar on the Montreal Canadiens. I’ve always looked at Max Pacioretty as a hometown hero, but for my hometown, and I understand how obscure that is. I’ll probably never understand what this means to the fragile group of fans who need the coach, general manager and owner to speak the same language as them, but to be honest, I don’t really care. To each their own.

The immediate response to the acquisition of Jonathan Drouin tells me that, as long as he stays out of trouble, the fans will love him. For some, that seems like a big “if,” but we have no reason to think he’ll be a problem off the ice. You can put that issue to bed.

On the ice, we’ve seen flashes of what Drouin can be, but it’s possible we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. The first talking point seemed to be about what position he would play, and the consensus puts him on the wing with an outside shot of playing centre if the team is in a bind. But that’s just at even strength. What about the power play? Does it make sense to play him on the wing with the man advantage? If Montreal managed to keep Markov, I would have said yes, but there’s a gaping hole to the left of Shea Weber and only a left-handed shot with impeccable vision and playmaking skills can fill that void. He’s certainly not a defensive liability, and his speed could make him a safe bet to back check in a pinch. Putting Drouin on the point next to Weber could give Montreal a formidable first powerplay unit, while adding another dimension to Drouin’s scouting report.

The Radulov replacement talk seems to be apt, but give Drouin a clear edge. Younger, better cap hit, more disciplined, and faster (now the obvious goal was to have both of them in the lineup, but this is a “Jonathan Drouin hype piece” and not a “Bargain Bin” piece). One common attribute that Drouin and Radulov share is their ability to create offense through controlled zone entries. Drouin is a slight improvement in this category due to his speed, so expect Drouin to be an offensive catalyst through his speed in the neutral zone and creativity in the offensive zone.

Robert Brown (@TheStandardBob) – I first learned of this trade right after I completed my English exam. Sweaty and tired from the exam I decided to log into one of my guilty pleasures; Twitter. First thing I saw; Jonathan Drouin Traded to Montreal in exchange for Mikhail Sergachev. I honestly couldn’t believe what I saw. I went ballistic as I hollered up and down the hallways. I don’t care if Mikhail Sergachev becomes an all-star with Tampa. The main motive for Bergevin was to obtain an offensive talent, and boy did he get just that. Jonathan Drouin seems to be a replacement for Alexander Radulov. That comparison seems fair, considering that both players possess the same style of play. Nonetheless, like Ian stated, I see Jonathan Drouin as a much better replacement.

Before this trade broke, I was starting to wonder who our main offensive catalysts would be in the future (once Pacioretty is past his prime, he’s currently 28). The players I had etched in my list were Alex Galchenyuk and Artturi Lehkonen. Sure, Phillip Danault and Andrew Shaw are solid, but neither player will produce jaw-dropping offensive stats. Brendan Gallagher can become a workhorse if he can withstand his hand problems. Charles Hudon can rise up to the occasion if he’s given a proper chance. Joni Ikonen and Martin Reway may be good in the coming years, but that’s no sure thing. Other than that, we don’t have players who can consistently put up a ton of points. However, with Drouin in the fold, things have changed. We now have three players who have the ability to supply offense for our team for the next 5-10 years. If Drouin can live up to the hype, he can easily produce up to 65-70 points a season.

I see this trade helping our team for the present and the future.

Zach Vanasse (@ZachDropsTweets) – While I’m 50% French-Quebecois, I mostly grew up within Quebec’s Anglophone community and eventually moved away to Toronto, so somewhat similar to our resident Connecticut-contributor Ian, I’ve never had a complete appreciation for what it means to some to have a French-Quebec superstar on the Montreal Canadiens. That being said though, the potential for Jonathan Drouin to fill a void that a segment of the community has long been yearning for is something I’ve been thinking about more and more through the dog days of summer.

The excitement around Alex Radulov last season was obvious – and we all remember how Habs fans took to Alex Kovalev – because Montreal loves explosive talent. And those guys were both aging players from Russia with a lot of history for other teams. In Drouin we potentially have a player with dynamic talent (can you imagine the insanity at Bell Centre if the kid pulls off one of these) who grew up a Habs fan, he’s 22 years old, and French-Quebecois.

As weird as it is to say about a market like Montreal, I almost feel as though the Drouin acquisition has been under-discussed considering just how massive of a figure Drouin could become for your Montreal Canadiens if he meets his potential.

This is a fandom that got all excited about Guillaume Latendresse, and even Louis Leblanc to an extent. This is an organization that literally handed the torch to an end-of-his-run Daniel Briere. Not one of them had the potential to be what Drouin could be in Montreal. It’s far from guaranteed, but for the moment Drouin is Montreal’s last best hope for another French-Quebec superstar.

Watching every one of Drouin’s goals from last season has at least got me a little hyped.

One Comment

  1. bay bye

    August 24, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    but with only one good year in TB and all the problems he went through..he could be the next LaFleur or the next Daigle… can he handle the pressure of playing in Montreal or will his past attitude problems show up.time will tell. he lacks the enthusiasm that Radulov brought but may be the player Montreal needs. The sad thing is we now have no major PMD, no #1 Center and no #2 Dman. We will have to play dump the puck chase the puck, which is not good.As Weber’s skillset slowly diminishes what is MB to do…he gave 3 PMD away in the last year and got none back, he did not even try to get the Hobey Baker winner as he is a PMD and MB only wants dmen in his own image