The Tampa Bay Lightning and general manager Steve Yzerman have announced that they have traded Jonathan Drouin and a conditional 2018 sixth-round draft pick for defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional 2018 second-round draft pick from the Montreal Canadiens.
Update - Conditional Picks
Pierre LeBrun has tweeted the conditions of the picks as follows:
If Sergachev doesn't play 40 games for the Bolts next season, then the picks are exchanged— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 15, 2017
This tells us that Yzerman is definitely hoping for Sergachev to be a factor for the Lightning in 2017-18. If he is, that means he’s playing at least half of the season and contributing. In that case, the deal is just a straight swap of Drouin for Sergachev. If Sergachev doesn’t quite pan out for 2017-18, then the Lightning get a 2nd round pick in exchange for a 6th round pick.
Who is Sergachev?
This is big news for the Tampa Bay Lightning. In their search for a defenseman, they have acquired one of the best prospects in the Montreal Canadiens organization in Sergachev. He was the Canadiens ninth-overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Sergachev ranked against OHL D of the same age:
After playing four games in the NHL for the Canadiens at the beginning of the season, Sergachev was sent back to the OHL and the Windsor Spitfires to continue developing. Prior to being drafted, Sergachev posted 17 goals and 57 points in 67 games for the Spitfires and added five more points in five playoff games.
This season, he put up 10 goals and 43 points in 50 games. He added another three points in seven playoff games as the Spitfires were eliminated in the first round of the OHL playoffs. The Spitfires returned to play as the host of the Memorial Cup Championship. Sergachev put up four points in four games on the way to winning the Memorial Cup. He also participated with Team Russia in the World Junior Championships, but only had one goal in seven games on the way to a Bronze medal.
Habs Eyes on the Prize wrote this scouting report of Sergachev’s play:
Sergachev crushes his teammates in controlled exits, both carry-outs and pass exits. His controlled exit success rate is just one-percent off McEneny’s team leading 93.75%, but Sergachev is far more effective because he makes far more exit attempts with control (80.5%) than anyone else (second highest: 70.5%).
Sergachev’s controlled entry success rate is third best on the team, but he also successfully enters the offensive zone with control 1.91 times per game, while only one other defender is above one per game.
Sergachev has good size at 6’3” and 216 pounds. He is a left-hander and turns 19 in just a week and a half. He can provide plenty of offense from the blue line and a steady presence in the defensive zone. One thing that Yzerman has mentioned about defenseman is that it’s important that they take care of their own zone first and are able to make the first pass out of the zone. The above scouting report suggests that he is very capable of handling zone exits.
By moving Drouin, Yzerman has helped out his cap situation for 2017-18. Plenty of speculation has gone around about what kind of contract Drouin would command as a restricted free agent coming off of his entry level contract. If he was shooting for the moon, and was willing to hold out, it could create a lot of problems for the Lightning. It has also opened up a protection spot for the expansion draft among forwards allowing Yzerman to protect both Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov. That decision has been hotly debated on social media.
If Yzerman does intend to use Sergachev in the Lightning’s top six defensemen next season, and does not acquire another defenseman prior to the expansion draft, the last decision remaining for protection will be between Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek for the third defenseman spot after Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.
With Drouin gone, Yzerman can focus on re-signing forwards Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson as well as defenseman Andrej Sustr who are all restricted free agents and due raises. In the case of Palat and Johnson, those raises could be significant contracts in the range of $5 to $6 million.
What are the implications for Tampa next season?
The big question is, does this help the team next year? If it means that the team is able to keep the top players they have now and Sergachev is able to contribute on the blue line, then I think yes, this is a net positive for the team. However, it may take a couple years for Sergachev to realize his full potential, while Drouin was just starting to come into his own. The emergence of Nikita Kucherov as a truly elite forward as well as the solid rookie performance of Brayden Point has slightly decreased the need for Jonathan Drouin in the top six.
But it definitely hurts. And it’s definitely going to hurt when Drouin is putting up 80 points next season for the Canadiens. But looking at the big picture, Sergachev has a lot of potential and a lot of room to grow into the NHL. Let’s hope that he can join the line up next season and be a big contributor for the Lightning defense and help this team get back into the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup.