If Drouin is Available, Habs Are All In

 

JDrouin

Here is a quiz for Habs’ fans: Who was the last French Canadian impact offensive forward to suit up for the Montreal Canadiens? No, there hasn’t been many but has been a few since Guy Lafleur, although many fans were either not born yet or were too young to remember when the team had a local product to which they could relate to. The answer? It was during the 1998-99 season that Vincent Damphousse was traded to the San Jose Sharks. Well done to those who knew that.

Damphousse had seasons of 27, 38, 39 and 40 goals while wearing the Red, White and Blue. Pierre Turgeon had 38 goals in the 1995-96 season and just before him, Stéphane Richer was the last French Canadian 50 goals’ scorer with the Habs, the last time in 1989-90.  Since then, the crop has been slim picking for the Canadiens, although it’s not like the fans haven’t been hoping for some local talent to carry the team’s offense. Who can forget when Mike Ribeiro was seen as almost Superman because he reached the 20 goals plateau in 2003-04?  Or the frenzy in 2006 when 19 year old Guillaume Latendresse had a good camp and everyone saw him as the next local power forward?

Yes, times have changed and there are not as many impact Quebecois in the NHL as there used to be. That’s a fact and Hockey Quebec has been scratching its head for several years, trying to address this phenomena. However, some fans and member of the media, particularly those using the language of Shakespeare, are trying to downplay the need for French speaking players on the Canadiens. But as we touched on in length in a previous article, Beyond Politics is a Habs’ Reality.

Jonathan Drouin

Rumours are circulating that the Tampa Bay Lightning might be shopping Drouin and we know that Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin had serious discussions with Steve Yzerman back when Drouin had a dispute with the Lightning. Rumours were that Yzerman wanted Alex Galchenyuk, which at the time was a non-starter for Bergevin. How things change through. Today, it’s unlikely that Yzerman would make that trade even if Bergevin offered Chucky in exchange.

However, if he is truly testing the waters to trade Drouin, Yzerman will have Bergevin call him several times a day and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Canadiens put together the best offer to get the French Canadian talent. What remains to be seen though is if Yzerman will have the cojones to pull such an important trade within his own division, to a team battling directly with them for a playoffs’ spot.

Offer sheet

Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT expect Bergevin to go the offer sheet way, neither for Drouin or for Leon Draisaitl this summer. Too many GMs have had to leave their jobs for their team’s sake after employing that tactic as the NHL is a tight knit group and those putting their counterpart in trouble with offer sheets are blackmailed. Yes, it is legal, but just ask Paul Holmgren what happens when you play dirty tricks…

Drouin, a native of Ste-Agathe, Quebec, is only 22 years of age and he 29 goals and 96 points in 164 regular seasons’ games in the NHL. A versatile forward able to play all three of the forward positions, he finished last season with 21 of those goals. In the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he had 14 points in 17 games, including four goals in the Eastern Conference Final.

I personally believe that it would be worth slightly overpaying for Drouin as I do believe in having some quality local talent on the Montreal Canadiens. Rest to decide what is considered overpaying but that, I will leave in the capable hands of the General Manager.

The Verdict: Drouin It Is

JDrouin

Only fools don’t change their mind and while it may not seem like it most times, we are no fools. Many of us Habs’ fans were either not sold on the need to trade for Jonathan Drouin, the price the Canadiens would have to pay to convince Steve Yzerman to trade him within his division, or the fact that he simply wasn’t enough of an immediate impact to get the team out of this horrendous slide.

Seeing that the Habs now find themselves out of a playoffs’ spot with little sign of snapping out of whatever they find themselves into, many are already giving up on this season and suggest that Carey Price should have his surgery and take the rest of the season to heal properly to get back fully healthy for next season. I can’t say that I disagree.

In the meantime, Drouin has been suspended by the Tampa Bay Lightning for refusing to dress for an AHL game, a way for the young player and his agent had decided to use to put pressure on Yzerman to expedite a trade. And this decision not only didn’t sit well with the Lightning’s GM, but from what Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News reported, it doesn’t bold well for Drouin whose value is dropping by the minute, according to some NHL GMs.

If we believe those General Managers, it seems like teams are either pulling out of the Drouin derby or are, at the very least, starting to lowball Yzerman by offering much less than what they might have been offering before the latest developments. Drouin’s actions have raised a huge red flag about his attitude and character, and the fact that he is not playing any hockey both affect his market value. And it’s not going to improve with time.

HERE COMES BERGEVIN

Contrarily to what I was writing at the beginning of the month, in this current situation, it is my belief that Marc Bergevin is starting to gain the upper hand on the possibility of acquiring the former third overall pick. And here is why.

Is there a team who wants Drouin more than the Canadiens? When was the last time that the organization had a top end local talent on their team? Of course there was Patrick Roy but at forward, the last one might have been Vincent Damphousse who finished the 1995-96 season with 94 points. It’s been a long, long time it seems. And seeing that there are less and less French Canadians from Quebec in the NHL, it could be a while before the Habs have a chance to get their hands on one, especially at such a young age.

Also, it seems like the team’s priorities might have changed after two consecutive losses to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets. The Habs might be looking to build for the long term as opposed to getting immediate impact help. Forget the pending UFA’s, we should turn our focus to preparing for next season and for the future.

So if the reported asking price was a young, top-4 potential defenseman and a prospect is true, and that Drouin’s value has gone down as THN is reporting, who would be willing to match an offer like Nathan Beaulieu and a good prospect like Sven Andrighetto or Nikita Scherbak, who would be willing or able to match such offer? As long as the prospect is not Michael McCarron, I say go for it.

In a case like this, the ball would clearly be in Steve Yzerman’s court. While he may not want to trade within the division, what if the Canadiens’ offer is miles ahead of anyone else? I now believe that there is a chance. But now, will Yzerman want to “reward” Drouin by sending him exactly where he would like to go? Time will tell… but hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to find out.