In a deal that was rumored for some time, the Tampa Bay Lighting traded Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. While the optics of the trade were not quite what people had expected, the move will send the dynamic forward to the Canadiens for defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev. Also involved in the trade were two conditional draft picks.
Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin said of the deal:
"When you have the chance to get your hands on a player of Jonathan's talent at a young age, it's very important," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said of the 22-year-old from Ste-Agathe, Quebec. "This opportunity probably hasn't been available to me in five years. Plus, he's a kid from here, so for me it was a decision I had to make. Giving up Sergachev was not easy, but acquiring Jonathan was a chance we couldn't pass up."
Immediately following the trade, the Canadiens signed Drouin to a long-term extension valued at $33 million over six years. The extension helps solve some of the major scoring issues that plagued the team last season.
Meanwhile, the Lightning were actively looking to add a defenseman of Sergachev's skillset. While the offensive-defenseman may not be a shoe-in for immediate action in the NHL, his upside potential is tremendous. The Lightning hope that Sergachev will be a top-minute offensive weapon for them over the long term.
A key component to this trade was also that in moving out Drouin, the Lightning moved a contract off the books that would have required protection in the upcoming expansion draft. Sergachev is still automatically protected thanks to his standing as a first or second-year player. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman can now protect another forward that they may have lost to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Overall, both teams view this trade as a win. Each solves a need and both had to give up something to get something of value. It could be the start of a number of similar trades that may be prevalent this offseason in the NHL.
Note: If Sergachev ends up playing more than 40 games in the NHL next season, the Lightning also receive a conditional second-round pick in the 2018 draft, and the Canadiens receive a conditional sixth-round pick in 2018.