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The Mikhail Sergachev and Jonathan Drouin Trade: Two Years Later

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It’s been over two years, so let’s see how it’s gone for both teams.

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

It’s been just over two years since the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens came together for a trade of Mikhail Sergachev and Jonathan Drouin. The deal also included a conditional swap of second and sixth round picks if Sergachev played less than 40 games, including the playoffs, during the 2017-18 season. The Lightning would have received the second round pick with the Canadiens getting a sixth round pick. Well he blew past that playing in 79 regular season games and 17 playoff games so that the swap of picks wasn’t exercised.

With Sergachev making an immediate impact in the NHL with the Lightning, this ended up being a straight up hockey trade, which is something we rarely see in today’s NHL outside of Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall loloilerslol. So with two years now passed since the trade, we can compare what both players have brought to their new teams.

Thoughts From Back Then

When the trade went down, there was quite a flurry of thoughts, emotions, and analysis going on. I wrote the bulk of the article here for RawCharge when the trade went down. This helps in giving me a reference of some of the thoughts I had about the trade as it was happening.

I was obviously excited about Sergachev as a prospect as he was highly thought of and had loads of potential. But I had my doubts on if he would make the team and be a contributor right away. I recognized though that if he did make the team and contribute, then it would be a net positive losing Drouin for Sergachev. I also recognized that the emergence of Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point decreased the need for Drouin in the top six.

The trade was also made to help the Lightning with the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft. The Lightning felt they were short a protection spot and resolved that issue, as well as addressing a need for a defenseman of the future with this trade. Ultimately, they made a deal with Vegas to protect the team’s assets, but it would have cost more if they had to expose one more forward than they did.

With all that said, I finished out my thoughts about the trade with this...

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.

How has Drouin done for Montreal (basic stats)

Remember how I said it was going to hurt when Drouin was putting up 80 points for the Canadiens? Well, he didn’t do that. It turned out that he didn’t do much better with Montreal than he had in 2016-17 with the Lightning. In 2017-18, he put up 13 goals and 46 points in 77 games. He followed up last year, with a markedly improved Canadiens squad, putting up 18 goals and 53 points.

Drouin still hasn’t broken out into the kind of superstar we hoped he’d be when he was drafted and we were afraid he could still be when he was traded. Even with Montreal improving last season. As he gets into the peak of his prime years, it seems like he will remain as a solid offensive player with flaws that keep him from being a star, much less a superstar.

How has Sergachev done for Tampa Bay (basic stats)

Sergachev was eased into the line up for the Lightning in 2017-18. The Lightning often went with seven defensemen so that the coaching staff could limit Sergachev’s ice time as he adjusted to life in the NHL. Through the first 20 games of the season, Sergachev averaged 14:00 time on ice and got off to a hot start with five goals and 14 points with five points coming on the power play as he anchored the point of the second power play.

After that first 20 games though, his ice time moved up as his, and the coaching staff’s, confidence in him grew. After the first 20 games, Sergachev averaged 15:49 TOI and recorded 26 points in 59 games. Overall in his first season, he recorded nine goals and 40 points in 79 games.

Sergachev’s point production regressed a little bit in 2018-19, but that was in part due to a difference in how the second power play unit was utilized with the bulk of the power play time going to the first unit. The second unit with Sergachev wasn’t really put into a position to succeed. Even with that, Sergachev continued his even strength production matching his six even strength goals from the previous season and adding two more even strength assists to get to 20 on the season. He finished the year with six goals and 32 points in 75 games.

Comparing Both Through Advanced Statistics

With Evolving-Hockey.com and their Goals Above Replacement and Wins Above Replacement statistics, we can measure how Drouin and Sergachev compare to each other and to the league. Both of these stats take a great many data points into account, including adjusting for quality of teammates and competition as well as usage, and distills it down to one number to evaluate the value the player brought on the ice.

For both stats, a 0 is replacement level. As in that’s what you’d expect to be able to get from a player that you scooped out of the AHL and played that player in the same situations and ice time. The reality of the NHL is that a lot of players that play in the NHL that have negative WAR numbers. This can be because of contracts, reputation, team situations, and really any number of factors. Often times, replacement level players are the players you’ll find on your fourth line and third pair defensemen, or extra skaters. GAR also directly relates to WAR as a certain amount of GAR equates to one WAR.

In the below stats, the ranks at the end will be the player’s rank in the NHL among forwards and defensemen respectively. Neither player has much in the way of short handed time with less than 30 minutes TOI between the two of them over the past two seasons. For that reason, I will leave off that stat.

2017-18

Drouin

  • Even Strength GAR, -6.7, 562nd
  • Power Play GAR, 0.5, t-172nd
  • Penalties GAR, 0.2, t-274th
  • Overall WAR, -1.1, t-558th

Sergachev

  • Even Strength GAR, 6.0, t-43rd
  • Power Play GAR, 3.7, t-7th
  • Penalties GAR, 0.2, t-169th
  • Overall WAR, 1.7, t-29th

As the stats here show, Drouin was far less than a replacement level player. He provided some positive value on the power play and through penalties, but he was completely tanked by his even strength play. It would not be hard for a good AHL player to step in and be more impactful than Drouin was in 2017-18 at even strength.

On the other side of the ledger, Sergachev was a very high end defenseman. His only deficiency came from his Penalties GAR. While he certainly provided a lot of power play value, he was right up there with the top defensemen in the league at even strength. To provide some perspective, he was more valuable at even strength than Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Ryan Suter, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He was also right behind Brayden McNabb, Colton Parayko, Dustin Byfuglien, Shayne Gostisbehere, Darnell Nurse, and Nate Schmidt. Just to name a few really good players.

2018-19

Drouin

  • Even Strength GAR, -1.4, t-462nd
  • Power Play GAR, 0.2, t-207th
  • Penalties GAR, 1.8, t-64th
  • Overall WAR, 0.1, t-324th

Sergachev

  • Even Strength GAR, 8.2, t-31st
  • Power Play GAR, -1.7, 301st
  • Penalties GAR, 0.9, t-73rd
  • Overall WAR, 1.3, t-48th

Once again, most of Drouin’s value came from his Penalties GAR. He did improve on his even strength play significantly, which was certainly due for regression back to the mean. However, he’s still far from being an impact player at even strength. His power play value also doesn’t do much to pull him into star territory.

Sergachev on the other hand, saw major regression on the power play. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t feel that the second power play unit was given much of an opportunity for success, but even in that limited time, Sergachev wasn’t helping much and perhaps hurting. At even strength though, he continued to be a very high end player with border line first defenseman value.

Conclusions

Not long after the trade was made, and certainly by the time the start of the 2017-18 season came around, I decided this was likely a trade both teams would look back on and be happy with. For both teams, it helped them fill a perceived need. I think a lot of fans on both sides agreed with me, though there were certainly vocal fans on both sides that were unhappy with the deal.

Some Habs fans will certainly point to Drouin’s point production and say, “See! He’s valuable!” And that’s true, he does provide some value there. He’s a good playmaker. And he probably should be a better shooter than the 8.8% shooting he’s put up the past two seasons with Montreal. But so much of his point production comes on the power play. That production just doesn’t make up for his shortcomings at even strength as he neither drives play offensively or defends well enough for his scoring to overcome.

On the other hand, Sergachev has been even better than I think he has gotten credit for. He’s certainly been better than I thought he would be in his first two seasons in the NHL. Sure, the Lightning have a really good team and that’s assisted him in his success. But WAR has factors in it to help account for that fact. Sergachev has earned it with his hard work and solid play on both ends of the ice.

Looking back at the trade now...this was a clear win for the Lightning and it’s not even close.