It’s not exactly a surprise, but Jonathan Drouin’s stay in Montreal is over.
He has agreed to a one-year contract to join former Halifax Mooseheads teammate Nathan MacKinnon at the Colorado Avalanche. He will pocket $825,000, according to The Athletic.
Drouin was free as air on July 1, now that the six-year contract he signed upon arriving in Montreal had expired.
In videoconference, Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland confirmed that it was no coincidence that Drouin ended up with his former brother in arms. MacFarland called MacKinnon an “honorary member of the scouting team” about Drouin, who he played with for a year and a half 10 years ago.
“With his tools, Drouin will fit in well with our other talented players,” MacFarland said. I can easily imagine him getting a chance with MacKinnon, [Ryan] Johansen, or whatever [head coach Jared Bednar] wants to see. But he will have to earn it. His hands and game-making skills are nothing to worry about though. »
Drouin’s stay in Montreal was tumultuous. Expectations for a player who had just amassed 53 points in 73 games in Tampa at age 21 were high, and they were symbolized by the $33 million deal (average annual value of 5, 5 million) which he accepted when he arrived at CH, in return for the promising Mikhail Sergachev.
“In five years, the opportunity to get hold of a player of this caliber had never presented itself,” said Canadian general manager Marc Bergevin on June 15, 2017, the day of the transaction. I couldn’t let her pass. »
The first two years suggest a successful transaction on both sides. After a 2017-2018 campaign to forget, Drouin and CH bounced back the following season. On February 7, 2019, Drouin put on a sparkling performance of two goals and two assists against the Jets. The Quebecer then ranks 2nd on the team with 46 points in 55 games, a projection of 68 points over 82 games. However, he had to settle for 6 points in the next 26 games.
Back in force the following fall. Drouin has 15 points after 18 first games. On October 26, he scored 2 goals in CH’s 5-2 win over Toronto at the Bell Centre, a night that Drouin described, in the end-of-season report in April, as his “greatest memory” in Montreal. “The crowd had shouted my name, I had been named first star. I’ll remember that night for a while. But he injured his wrist in his 19th game in Washington and needed surgery.
Since that incident, Drouin has had surgery on his other wrist, and he also missed the end of the 2021 season due to anxiety disorders. But the first wrist injury really marks a “before” and an “after”, as Drouin himself admitted during the end-of-season review last April.
“I had a few nightmares that year,” he confessed. This is the year the injuries started. I had never been injured like that in my career. There are still days when I get up and think about that day in Washington. It was going really well, we were in a position to participate in the playoffs and it was going well personally. But that’s part of hockey. »
Since that famous Friday night in November 2019, he has only accumulated 72 points, including only 10 goals, in 144 games. The drop in his number of goals also coincides with the start of his wrist troubles.
This season, his average outtime has dropped below 15 minutes (14:54) for the first time in six years in Montreal. Late in the campaign, he also made headlines when he was benched for the entire March 18 game in Tampa for being late to a team meeting.
As soon as he arrived, however, Drouin tried to have an impact off the ice as well. In September 2017, he became an ambassador for the Fondation du CHUM. During this period, the foundation organized five golf tournaments bearing the name of number 27.
Over the years, it has therefore become clear that the Habs would not gain by sacrificing Sergachev to obtain it. In addition, Bergevin originally wanted Drouin to become the much sought-after first-line center. It was rather on the wing that he had his best moments.
In 321 games with Montreal, he scored 186 points (48 goals, 138 assists). His differential of -77 is the worst for the 2017-2023 period for the Canadian, ahead of Nick Suzuki (-62).
Meanwhile, Sergachev took off. For four years, he has averaged more than 20 minutes per game, and has played almost 24 this season. His offensive output is also steadily increasing, and he has 64 points in 79 games this season, ranking him 10th among defensemen in the NHL.