The Mismanagement of Jonathan Drouin

By Bob Trask – Jonathan Drouin broke into the league with a lot of promise after being the third overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft. In his draft year he put up more than two points per game with the Halifax Mooseheads and followed that up with a similar performance the following year. Then the mismanagement started.

The Tampa Years

The Tampa Bay Lightning are often given credit for sound player development but that was simply not the case when it came to Jonathan Drouin.

He was still junior-eligible when he joined the Lightning for his rookie campaign. While he did record 28 assists, Drouin only managed 4 goals in 70 games. In retrospect another year in junior could have done him a world of good.

In the following year (the 2015-16 season) the relationship between Drouin and the Lightning deteriorated. He split his time between Syracuse in the AHL and Tampa, playing only 38 games in total. That is hardly a recipe for player development.

Drouin clawed his way back into the NHL lineup for the 2016-17 season and had his best offensively in the NHL. But the writing seemed to be on the wall and rather than work with the player, it seems that Tampa saw his bounce-back season as an opportunity to move him.

The Canadiens seemed desperate to add a high profile French-Canadian player to the lineup. It is one of those situations that is unique to Montreal and it is understandable why.

The Montreal Years

The acquisition of Drouin by then GM Marc Bergevin added pressure to a player who was still finding his way in the NHL. He was French Canadian, he was a high draft pick and he was going to be the saviour of the franchise. All of this was heaped onto the shoulders of a player who had slightly more than two full years in the NHL. On top of it all he was going to be asked to play center, a more difficult position than wing and one where he had limited experience.

Jonathan Drouin

To make matters worse, Bergevin gave up Mikhail Sergachev, who many believe would become the heir apparent to Andrei Markov. Fans and the media would prove to be unforgiving as he came up short of their expectations. It was a lot to ask of a young man who was just 22 years of age.

The center ice experiment proved to be the failure that many predicted but the failure was not Drouin’s fault – it was the miscalculation by management. They thrust Drouin into a role he was not well prepared for and struggled to find a solution to the problem. Eventually, Drouin was moved back to the wing where he should have been all along.

Injuries and personal issues have not helped. In his five seasons in Montreal, Drouin has played a full season only twice. In the other three he has averaged only 35 games.

The Big Picture

Jonathan Drouin’s development has been handled badly by both Tampa and Montreal. He was probably brought into the league too early, he was bounced around by Tampa and thrust into too big of a role in Montreal. Then he was bounced from center to wing with the Canadiens while suffering through injury plagued seasons. In eight years he has played only 427 games for an average of 53 per years.

All of this leads me to believe that we haven’t seen the real Jonathan Drouin just yet.

The Path Forward

Drouin may finally get the break that he has needed. Head coach Martin St-Louis has been able to get a lot out of his players, more than any recent coach with the Canadiens. This is particularly evident with players who have a flair for offense, players like Cole Caufield and Jeff Petry. But players like Christian Dvorak also thrived under St. Louis.

One of the strengths of the Canadiens’ head coach is that he recognizes the individual strengths of his players and puts them in positions to utilize those strengths. He also encourages players to use their own creativity rather than trying to plug them into a restrictive style of play.

That bodes well for Drouin. He is not going to be the checking fiend that is Artturi Lehkonen but he does have superior puck skills and good vision. Benching players for defensive mistakes can squeeze out the confidence to create offense. If St-Louis can live with some of his defensive lapses that will occur from time to time he could able to reap the rewards of an offensively gifted player.

A Successful Season

If Drouin can remain healthy and finally regain the confidence he had in junior hockey, he could become a valuable contributor to the Canadiens going forward. A season of 20-25 goals and 30-35 assists would not be out of the question.

For this reason Drouin could be the wildcard in the lineup that few are counting on. It would be rewarding for the Canadiens, for their fans and most of all for Jonathan Drouin himself.

Bonne chance, Jonathan.

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Gauging McDonagh vs Petry Trade Value

By JD Lagrange – What is likely the first of several substantial trades to come was consumed today as the Tampa Bay Lightning, in desperate need to shed salary cap, sent veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh and his $6.75 million contract packing to Nashville. In return, Tampa receives 23 year-old left winger Grant Mismash and cap dump defenseman Phillippe Myers.

Many believe that Myers will be bought out by the Lightning, which will provide a savings of $616,667 the first year and only account for $633,333 in year two on their salary cap. Mismash, a Preds’ second round pick (61st) in 2017, just completed his first year pro for the Milwaukee Admirals where he tallied six goals and six assists in 57 games this season.

Petry correlation

Immediately, Habs’ fans have jumped on the value obtained by the Lightning and started questioning the value of Jeff Petry, whom the Canadiens are also trying to trade. Fortunately, the situations are completely different and so is the value of those players. And here’s why…

Jeff Petry

For one, McDonagh is a left-handed defenseman, a position that is saturated on the market right now. Petry, on the other hand, is right-handed, a rare commodity and something several teams are looking for a veteran right-handed defenseman. So in a market, supply and demand is what dictates value and the balance is heavily tipped on Kent Hughes’ side.

Then, there’s the players. While if you’re looking at last season, those two seem pretty close in just about every category, we can all agree that it was Petry’s worst season since joining the Canadiens.

$6.75M until 2025-26CAP HIT$6.25 until 2024-25

Now keep in mind… Petry had a horrible start of the season. In fact, let’s look at how he started (under Dominique Ducharme) and how he finished after the coaching change (under Martin St-Louis):


The Canadiens and NHL GMs have rediscovered the true Jeff Petry, who was greatly affected by several factors, but three predominant ones:

  1. Due to COVID restrictions in Montreal and in Canada, his family was residing in Detroit, so that his wife Julie could get help with the kids.
  2. In the past, Shea Weber was getting the toughest minutes and opposition while Petry was on the second pairing. This year, without Weber, it was all on Petry.
  3. His defense partner, Joel Edmundson, with whom he had had the best season of his career last year, missed all but the last 24 games of the season.

3-year comparison

To finish the comparison with McDonagh, let’s look at their past three seasons:


Petry is also making half a million dollar per season less than McDonagh and has one fewer year remaining to his contract, both important factors.

So folks, do yourself a favour and don’t go comparing McDonagh’s value in a trade and Petry’s. NHL Insiders keep saying that several teams are trying to get Petry. The demand is there, the supply is low for players of his caliber, so the return should be more than what the Lightning got for McDonagh.

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