Marc Bergevin begins his off-season with a blockbuster deal, sending top prospect defenceman Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay for 2013 third-overall pick Jonathan Drouin.
Bergevin deemed this as a “difficult decision” trading his first-round choice last year, given the potential Sergachev has to become one of the league’s most elite defenceman.
He stated, “It’s a tough decision for sure, again we drafted him ninth overall, but again, I’m turning back to Jonathan.
To get a young player of his caliber, it was something as an organization we could not pass by.”
This trade is the second blockbuster deal in two summers for Bergevin. Last season he sent P.K Subban to Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber; a trade most fans criticize him for.
This time it did not take long for the Canadiens GM to figure out a contract. Drouin already signed a deal at six years-worth $33 million.
This deal may prove to be an even more valuable asset for the Canadiens. Montreal continues to struggle offensively and Drouin has the ability to become a major part of the solution.
He can play wing or centre, a flexible player that is needed since Alex Galchenyuk’s future is unclear. Their offensive depth chart is looking flashier, with speed and with grit.
Max Pacioretty lead the team with 35 goals last season along with Paul Byron with 22 goals, Drouin can be another player on the list hitting the 20-goal mark.
When asked if the hometown boy can handle the pressure, Drouin believes he’ll be able to thrive on it.
He said, “I think I will, obviously, there’s that pressure of playing in Montreal, everyone knows that. For me as a player, I think I would rather have that pressure on myself than some other places.
I’m a French-Canadian, I’m going to try with that pressure I like that stuff. I’ve played at the Bell Centre as an away guy, and to be on the home side is going to be even better.”
This deal came at a high price, but playing for your hometown team is surely a dream come true for Drouin. To disappoint a fan base that is thirsty for a Stanley Cup victory might not be in the cards for the youngster and the franchise.
Bringing in a guy like Drouin amongst other deals that need to be finalized for Montreal is an excellent start.
Bergevin hopes to re-sign Russian International Alexander Radulov to the team following a great year in his return to the NHL. He posted 18 goals and 36 assists in the regular season along with seven points in six playoff games.
As for third overall choice in the 2012 draft, Alex Galchenyuk may see himself next season in another uniform.
The Canadiens had hoped, Galchenyuk would become the #1 centre they have been lacking in their lineup, however, there is a benefit and a downfall to trading him.
The Drouin trade may benefit Galchenyuk to become the centre they have desperately needed. Drouin’s playmaking skills and speed along the wing can support Galchenyuk in the offensive rush. This could be a partnership that can work well for Montreal.
On the other hand, Bergevin might see the Drouin trade as a way to deal Galchenyuk. This might depend on what he receives in return. The defence lacks depth and experience, and he may be willing to bolster that.
The rumour is that Bergevin intends to sign Niklas Hjalmarsson from Chicago. The 30-year-old has great experience in playoff runs with a Blackhawks team that has won three Stanley Cups in the past 10 seasons.
The end cost of that bargain if it goes through, is Montreal will still be without a #1 centre. Drouin can play centre however, that is a risky move to hope he can become that even though the potential is there.
Recently, Dan Girardi’s contract has been bought out by the New York Rangers. He is a leader and a stable defenceman that can be a great addition if Bergevin chooses to pursue him, and if the price is right.
If the Canadiens choose to deal Galchenyuk, it should be for a centre that can maximize the talent out on the ice from his teammates much like Drouin does. Someone like John Tavares would fit in well with the group. It would be risky to trade someone of Galchenyuk’s talent for an older defenceman with not many years left, since Andrei Markov is close to the end of his career.
Only throughout this summer will Bergevin clarify his intentions with his players.