By JD Lagrange – Call it a fairy tale gone wrong, call it a bad dream, this whole experience of Jonathan Drouin in a Montreal Canadiens’ uniform has never turned out the way it should have been. It was supposed to be magical, a match made in heaven. The home boy loaded with skills, playing for his childhood team at a young age. Five years later, force is to admit that somewhere in the process, what was supposed to be good wine, turned to vinegar.
On June 15, 2017, the Montreal Canadiens acquired then 22 year-old Jonathan Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange from defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev. At the time of the trade, most people were excited by the trade, although some were questioning giving up Sergachev, if you recall.
But at the time, that was the asking price to get your hands on a guy who was selected third overall only four years prior, and who was coming off a 21 goals and 53 points season. Drouin’s 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists) would have ranked third on the Canadiens that season, one point behind Alexander Radulov.
It was immediately announced that the team had signed a six-year contract extension with the Ste-Agathe, Quebec native worth $33 million. The team used him all summer in its promotional off-season events, as they did this past summer with Nick Suzuki. Bergevin genuinely felt, at the time, that he had acquired a player who would be a corner stone for the franchise for years to come.
“There’s obviously a lot of pressure playing in Montreal, everybody knows that,” Drouin said at the time. “But for me as a player I think I’d rather have that pressure on myself [here] than some other places. I’m French-Canadian and I’m going to thrive on that pressure. I like that stuff.”
Extended time off
In his first two seasons, Drouin only missed a total of six games. But since the 2019-20 season, he has been out of the line-up, for one reason or another, for a total of 117 of the team’s 225 regular seasons’ games… and counting! That represents 48% of the games the Habs have played, not counting the magical playoffs’ run of 2021 in which he did not participate. And the Canadiens announced last night that he would miss another four to six weeks with an upper-body injury.
Fans have been very hard on him, often too hard… as they can be at times. Injuries – including two wrists surgeries – have taken their toll on his body and his mental health has suffered in the process. It is very, very unfortunate as Jo comes across as a very nice guy, even when you don’t know him personally. There is no doubt in my mind that his heart is in the right place and that he genuinely wanted to succeed in Montreal.
But we must now all admit that this trade was perhaps the only very bad trade made by Marc Bergevin. To the former GM’s defense, no one can predict injuries and he took a chance on Drouin just as Kent Hughes has taken a chance on Kirby Dach. Time will tell if that one turns out better than the Drouin trade, but so far, so good.