Undoubtedly the biggest move of the offseason, at least for the Canadiens and Lightning, was the Drouin-Sergachev trade. This was a deal that made a tremendous amount of sense for both clubs, and should give the Montreal fan base something they have wanted for years: an offensive minded player worth rallying behind.
Make no mistake, Montreal by no means are the clear winners of this trade, an offensively and physically gifted defender like Sergachev is extremely rare and tremendously hard to find and he won’t need to be paid until 2020 at the earliest. Montreal had to resign Drouin almost immediately, something Tampa would never have been able to do.
That being said, this was a deal Montreal had to make. After watching an extremely well coached, defensive minded team, miss the playoffs once again, it was clear this offense needed a spark, and boy did it get one.
Drouin is magical with the puck… If given space, he is one of the best passers in the league, and is one of the most accurate shooters in the league.
He is also deadly on the power play, and will be deadly in overtime. Here is why:
First off, on the powerplay he is a nightmare to keep out of the zone. Rather than deal with passing through the zone, causing turnovers, clearances, and even shorthanded opportunities, the Habs will now be able to simply allow Drouin to handle it through the press and into the zone.
Once the puck is in the zone, you simply have to put a shooter opposite him and he will do the rest. The Lightning were able to play him as a lefty on the right hand side of the power play and let him feed the puck to Kucherov on the opposite side. We saw the same thing with him on his natural side and either Stamkos or Johnson on the other side.
It’s all about space… If you can give this guy space to operate, he will score or creating scoring chances for others. That is what makes him particularly dangerous in the new overtime format. There is too much space for opponents to simply stick a man on him, the defender has zero chance. We saw this over and over again when Drouin was on the ice for game winning overtime goals with the Lightning last season.
The bad? Obviously we will give him a shot at center, and he just isn’t meant to play the position. He’s often not engaged on the defensive end, and despite world class speed, can even be lazy and slow getting back. Less than ideal.
In a way, he mirrors Sergachev in that, if the game was only played on the offensive half of the ice, both guys would be superstars… However, it will be which of the two that develops as a defensive hockey player that truly determines the winner of this trade.