With the Lightning facing (and beating) the Montreal Canadiens last night, we might as well take this opportunity to check in on one of the more interesting trades in recent Lightning history. One for one trades are rare in the NHL and one for one trades involving two highly touted young players even moreso. That’s what made the Jonathan Drouin for Mikhail Sergachev swap so surprising when it happened.
By now, everyone knows the back story. Drouin had been unhappy in Tampa after not getting the opportunity he felt he deserved as a former top three pick in the draft. The Lightning coaching staff obviously had skepticism about his game limiting his minutes and trying to mitigate the impact of his weak defensive play.
In the summer of 2017, the team decided to move on from the skilled winger and sent him to Montreal in exchange for another former top 10 pick in Mikhail Sergachev. The young defender was only one season removed from his draft year while Drouin had already played parts of three NHL seasons.
At the time of the trade, which is the time for evaluation, it looked like a risky deal for both sides. Both players still held the promise of potential and it seemed like a deal that could easily go wrong in one direction if only one of those players fulfilled their potential. With hindsight, we can now see that’s exactly what happened. Fortunately for the Lightning, they ended up on the right side of the deal.
With nearly three full seasons past since the trade, it looks definitive that Tampa is the big winner. In terms of wins above replacement (WAR) via Evolving Hockey, Drouin hasn’t been meaningfully above replacement in any season since he left Channelside. In fairness, he’s been injured for much of this season but in the 27 games he played, he racked up -0.5 WAR, which put him on pace for the worst season of his career so far.
On the flip side, Sergachev has posted at least one WAR every season and considering he’s three years younger than Drouin, there’s a legitimate case to be made the gap between the two players will likely widen over the next few seasons.
If we focus on play driving, the gap gets even more distinct. This chart also via Evolving Hockey shows each player’s impacts over the last three seasons.
Drouin’s defensive ineptitude compared to his offensive skill set was always a flash point for discussion in Tampa. It certainly looks like the coaching staffs skepticism has been proven valid as his defensive numbers in Montreal have been awful. Meanwhile, Sergachev has evolved into a well-rounded player who looks almost certain to grow into a first pairing defender.
At this point, harping on this deal any further seems like salt in the wound for Habs fans. This was a fun trade at the time and we wrote about the big risk both sides took at the time.
Both of these players could become one of the top 20-30 players at their position in the NHL. If one does reach that ceiling and the other falls far short of it, this could end up being one of those trades that people talk about for the next 30 years. But the unique thing here is that it could happen to either team. Both players represent top-of-the-league potential, but with a great degree of uncertainty.
That risk was realized in Montreal while in Tampa, the front office left with the good problem of trying to figure out how to fit Sergachev’s next contract under the cap this summer.
Lightning Org News
The Lightning played a strong game and beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 last night. Check out the QuickCap for a summary of the game.
The Lightning entered tonight needing a win after losing four of their last five games and facing the prospect of a weekend back-to-back against the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils. They got what they needed, securing both points at home against the Montreal Canadiens, 4-0. The stars showed up with big names scoring three of the team’s four goals and Andrei Vasilevskiy posting a shutout after a few rough games during the recent run of losses.
Head coach Jon Cooper said yesterday that Ryan McDonagh could return to the lineup during the upcoming road trip. That would be very welcome and allow for either Zach Bogosian or Braydon Coburn to head to the press box.
Cooper said Ryan McDonagh could potentially play on team’s next road trip. #Bolts— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) March 5, 2020
The Solar Bears continue to be busy acquiring players. They added another goalie. This time landing the very fun named Alex Sakellaropoulos.
The Orlando Solar Bears have announced the following transactions:
Orlando has acquired defenseman Mark Auk from the Toledo Walleye to complete the future considerations portion of the Jan. 29 trade that sent forward Jimmy Lodge to Toledo.
Orlando has subsequently dealt Auk to the Rapid City Rush for goaltender Alex Sakellaropolous.
The Solar Bears have also released rookie forward Guillaume Gauthier.
Other Hockey News
Not that the Lightning have much reason for scoreboard watching anymore after losing four of five games prior to last night and all but locking themselves into second place in the Atlantic Division but the first place Boston Bruins did defeat the Florida Panthers last night to maintain their nine point lead in the standings.
A couple of playoff contending teams in the Metropolitan Division confirmed that important players have significant injuries. The Carolina Hurricanes announced that defender Brett Pesce will have shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the season. That’s a huge blow to a team still fighting to secure their spot. Elsewhere, the suddenly dominant Philadelphia Flyers announced that forward James van Riemsdyk will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hand. That timeline is much less dire and should allow him to return in time for the playoffs.