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Yzerman makes blockbuster trade and we all need to breathe for a second

Sergachev is a promising defensemen who could be exactly what Tampa needs, but trading Drouin to a division rival leaves a bad taste in my mouth

2013 NHL Draft Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Forewarning: This is an opinion piece. If you want a more analytical approach my colleague @GeoFitz4 published a more analytically inclined article detailing the trade.

Lightning and Canadiens General Managers Steve Yzerman and Marc Bergevin decided to kick off the off-season trades with one hell of a bang. Yzerman sends Jonathan Drouin and a conditional 6th-round pick to Montreal while Bergevin sends Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional 2nd-round pick to Tampa.

This trade was a shocker. Sergachev’s name wasn’t one that was being brought up often. Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu were the names we kept hearing through the rumor mill. At first, I was surprised. Then, when I thought about it I could rationalize the mentality behind the trade. That doesn’t mean I entirely agree with it.

Look, the bare bones reason this was done was due to protection slots. Yzerman could only protect seven forwards and he had to expose one of Drouin, Alex Killorn, or Vladislav Namestnikov or risk losing one of them to Vegas for no return at all. A lot of people thought he would expose Killorn or Namestnikov, but apparently Yzerman had other ideas in mind. The Drouin trade means both Killorn and Namestnikov are more than likely staying.

Another aspect that needs to be addressed is contracts. As a restricted free agent Drouin is due a new contract, so are Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. Johnson and Palat you could see taking team friendly deals. Drouin? Not so much (especially with his agent). With Drouin out of the picture Yzerman avoids paying a player with one (I repeat ONE) strong season an annual salary of 5M+. I’m quite positive that Drouin would’ve been worth the money, but with the distractions he had created (and Yzerman being anti-distraction to a ‘nth degree) he had essentially put one foot out the door already.

Make no mistake, losing Drouin does hurt. Does it completely neuter Tampa’s offense? No. If that’s your thought process, then you need to get your head examined. Tampa’s offense is still strong, though not as strong as it could’ve been with Drouin. Getting Sergachev must’ve been the single goal Yzerman wanted. Sergachev is a highly touted defensive prospect who could be a top pairing defensemen. In order for Yzerman to get Sergechev he had to give up a player with a similar ceiling. He can’t get Sergachev with Killorn, it had to be Drouin.

There is no guarantee that Sergachev makes the Lightning roster next season, especially with the conditions attached to the trade (if Sergachev plays 40 NHL games then no picks are exchanged). It’ll be interesting to see what Yzerman does moving forward because I highly doubt this will be the last move he does this off-season.

Personally, I’m not a giant fan of the trade. I get the reasoning behind it and accept it, but I just have this bad feeling about Drouin. He’s that type of player who ends up haunting his former team and given that he is in Montreal it only magnifies that feeling. The immediate hot-takes on this (cause hot takes are wonderful and have such wise insightful meaning /s) will more than likely side with Montreal on this trade and it makes sense on the surface. Dive a little deeper and Drouin still has his flaws.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal taking Drouin is interesting. Especially given their history with dynamic young forwards (Alex Galchenyuk). If Montreal’s front office and coaching staff had issues with Galchenyuk’s play they’re going to have aneurysms with Drouin. Don’t get me wrong, Drouin is an offensive play-maker who makes plays that are jaw-dropping, but for long stretches of time he was invisible at even strength - 49% of his points came on the power-play while Tyler Johnson had eight less points overall with only 37% of his points came on the power-play. Drouin has the potential and skill to be a game changer, but he is no “auto-lock” like some people are saying. It’ll be interesting to see if Drouin succeeds in a coaching (and media) environment that will scrutinize him far more than he ever dealt with in Tampa Bay.

Conversely, Drouin has continued to impress as he was given more ice time and will more than likely hit his ceiling of being an elite player in the NHL. This does not bode well for a Tampa Bay team that has to face him 4-5 times during the regular season for the near future. This trade just feels bad to me. Yes, Sergachev is a great player to get, but I have this gut feeling that Drouin will be the cause of heartache for Lightning fans in the future. It will likely come in a playoff series in overtime (yes this part is an overreaction, no I don’t care just roll with it).

Then again, if there was one team in the NHL that can survive losing a player like Drouin, it’d be Tampa Bay (Pittsburgh is the only other team that could boast this capability). Tampa still has Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat, and Tyler Johnson [and a host of young talent in Syracuse and junior hockey - ed]. If Alex Killorn can be that 20 goal 50 point player and Vladislav Namestnikov can be a 15-20 goal 40 point player Tampa Bay will be ok. Killorn can hit those marks, though it remains to be seen if Namestnikov can.

Let’s all take a collective breath and resist completely overreacting to this trade (I had to just sit and think for about 20 minutes). Yzerman has brought us from bottom of the league to contender. We have to trust him moving forward. He just likes to see us squirm apparently.