When it comes to trades in the NHL, every General Manager will tell you that you win some, and you lose some. When you lose more than you win as did Mike Milbury while GM of the New York Islanders, you don’t last long. But when you win your fair share or most of them, like Marc Bergevin, you stick around and earn the respect of your peers. The key is to be a good judge of talent, and surround yourself with good professional and amateur scouts.
If you listen to Brian Burke, he has stated numerous times that Bergevin was one of the best judges of talent in the entire NHL and looking at his trades, one would be hard-pressed to claim otherwise. Shea Weber, Max Domi (now turned into Josh Anderson), Phillip Danault, Jeff Petry, Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki, Joel Armia, Jonathan Drouin and now Jake Allen were all obtained through Bergevin’s trades. In all but one case, he has won the trade by unanimous decision, even if he received severe criticism from some at the time. The one he has yet to win is the Drouin trade, having sacrificed a good young defenseman in Mikhail Sergachev.
Unfortunately, many fans and some members of the media have been on Drouin’s case since he’s joined the team. Being a local product will always bring the language issue amongst disgruntled fans and media members alike. They will justify the trade because of the former Tampa Bay Lightning being Quebecois and in a (lame) attempt at supporting their point, they will sell Sergachev as a Norris Trophy candidate, which everyone in hockey knows that he’s not. Many of the people who are up in arms against the Habs for not drafting French Canadians or Québécois are the same people who are stabbing Drouin and complain about the trade.
While there is a possibility that what we’ve seen from Drouin is what we’ll get, I wouldn’t be too quick to say that. But there is no doubt that this shorten season could very well be the telling one, deciding what type of player, what impact Drouin will be having as a NHL player. The good news is that Bergevin has done an amazing job at better surrounding him and the other existing forwards on the club during this off-season.
Some people forget that the last two seasons, Drouin has been plagued with injuries. In both seasons, he was up to a great start before getting injured and he didn’t pick up where he left off when coming back. And that’s what the naysayers are remembering most.
Now look at the options Claude Julien has at his disposition in order to try finding chemistry not only for Drouin, but for every other offensive player on the team. I personally foresee the lines at the start to be the following:
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Suzuki – Anderson
Lehkonen – Kotkaniemi – Toffoli
Byron – Evans – Armia
Drouin and Suzuki seemed to have found good chemistry in the playoffs during the COVID Cup and adding size in Anderson with those two will create some room for them. Anderson is excellent in battles along the boards and due to his size and strong hitting ability, defensemen often get rid of the puck sooner than they would like to. This will result in turnovers which will lead to the opposing forwards to be out of position. That extra room, combined with the skills and vision of Suzuki and Drouin, could be a deadly combination.
If Drouin is having an off night, dragging his feet, he would then be dropped with Kotkaniemi and Toffoli. That way, they would be facing lesser competition (3rd-4th line, 2nd-3rd defense pairing). Again, that can only be good for a skillful forward like Drouin.
Looking at pictures from the past two years, he reminds me so much of Patrice Brisebois. We all remember when Bob Gainey had to step in and call out the fans, right? I remember reading, back then, that Brisebois was having fun on the road with his teammates but on the flights back to Montreal, he was silent and anxious. Fans and media did that to him.
They’re not booing Drouin like they did Brisebois, but from the constant poking at the guy, he looks totally secluded and anxious. I so wish Habs fans and media would stop their non-sense and let the guy play hockey. I am 100% convinced that we would see a happier and better player.
I strongly believe that if he comes to camp the way he did last season, and if lady luck can be on his side when it comes to injuries, I personally predict a breakthrough season for the team’s most talented left-winger. And if Drouin can do that, he will make more Subbanistas eat crow… once again! Go Habs Go!