For a while, there have been some rumblings that Steve Yzerman was willing to trade the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jonathan Drouin if the price is right. While the main need of the team is a top-four defenseman, I don’t think you can rule out the possibility of a trade that is more of a talent swap. Drouin took a big step forward this season by posting 21 goals and 53 points in 73 games played. He blasted past his career high of four goals in each of the previous two seasons.
After a tumultuous 2015-16 season that including a mid-season hold out, things seemed to turn a corner this year. Drouin was given ample ice time and power play time. He produced. He wasn’t atrocious in the defensive zone. He seemed to, for the most part, earn Coach Jon Cooper’s trust.
But there could be some lingering resentment there, on the part of Drouin OR on the part of Yzerman. There’s also the question of how much he’s asking as a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) this summer. It’s easy to see him asking for, but hard to see him getting, as much as Nikita Kucherov’s bridge deal. Kucherov signed a three year deal that pays him $4,766,667 per season. Prior to signing that contract, Kucherov had two solid seasons where he scored 29 and 30 goals and had 65 and 66 points.
For Drouin, he’s only had one really solid season, this past one, and he only managed the 53 points. Despite the two extra years in the NHL, his position is much more akin to where Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat were before they signed their bridge RFA contracts. Both players got three years at $3,333,333 per year. That came after rookie seasons 24 goals and 50 points for Johnson and 23 goals and 59 points for Palat.
That gives you a definite range of where a bridge deal for Drouin would probably end up.
If Drouin is pressing the issue and looking for more money than Yzerman is willing to pay, then it’s not out of the question for Yzerman to seek a trade to maximize the value. The biggest fear will be that it’ll come back to bite the team in the butt when Drouin turns into an 80-point-per-season playmaker for the next 10 years.
The rumors of a trade have been out there for a while now, as evidenced by this tweet from Bob McKenzie of TSN.
I'm not "reporting" it or guaranteeing it will happen, but if Jonathan Drouin were dealt, I wouldn't be shocked: https://t.co/8wxVDK3LVi— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 28, 2017
And now today, this speculation has come out of a Montreal sports broadcaster about a Alex Galchenyuk trade for Drouin.
Hearing a lot of rumblings that a Drouin/Galchenyuk swap is coming...I'm no tradebreaker, so take it for what it's worth.— Conor McKenna (@mckennaconor) June 14, 2017
Also of note is this follow-up from another Montreal based sports writer.
If this is true, it's worthwhile to note that Galchenyuk and Drouin had virtually identical per-minute impacts last year. https://t.co/iFEp5P8r4J— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) June 14, 2017
I believe this is the first time we’ve seen rumors involving a specific player for Drouin that wasn’t just idle speculation. This may end up being the same thing and nothing ever comes to pass of the rumblings. But it’s definitely interesting to think about.
The teams would be trading two former #3 overall picks. Galchenyuk is more of a goal scorer while Drouin is more playmaker. Galchenyuk has sustained performance over four and a half seasons while Drouin has one and a half good seasons on his resume. Galchenyuk has hit 30 goals in a season but never hit the 30 assists plateau.
I have a hard time seeing a straight swap making sense for Steve Yzerman and the Lightning. I feel that the Montreal Canadiens would have to throw in something extra to make it work. I don’t know how much that extra is, but just Galchenyuk doesn’t feel like enough.
However, this follow up tweet adds some more information.
again, nothing definitive, but sounds like the Habs would be packaging a first with Galchenyuk in the deal.— Conor McKenna (@mckennaconor) June 14, 2017
The Montreal Canadiens own the 25th overall pick in the first round. In theory, Yzerman could trade the 14th overall pick he already owns and the 25th overall pick and trade up in the first round and land somewhere in the 4th to 6th overall spot. That could put him in line to take a certain Miro Heiskanen.
As for the impact in Tampa, Galchenyuk is a center which would mean Brayden Point stays on the right wing for the time being, though it is possible that Galchenyuk could move to the left wing as he has done at times in Montreal. Most observers agree though that he is much better when he’s playing center.
Making the trade also doesn’t solve any salary cap issues as Galchenyuk is also a restricted free agent coming off of a deal that had a $2.8 million salary cap hit. He’s going to demand close to $5 million. That likely means that the team still needs to find a landing spot for Tyler Johnson and using him as bait for a top-four defenseman.
Here’s a very rough sketch of a possible forward line up with Drouin being traded for Galchenyuk and Johnson being traded for a defenseman. I’ll also assume the worst case scenario of Namestnikov being selected in the expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Yanni Gourde - Alex Galchenyuk - Brayden Point
Alex Killorn - Matthew Peca - Adam Erne
J.T. Brown - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Oh, and Galchenyuk also wears #27, making it easy to paste over the Drouin name plates on your jersey with his name.