Bolts deal Drouin to obtain Sergachev

by Gary Shelton on June 15, 2017 · 4 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Drouin was a popular young talent with the Bolts./JEFFREY S. KING

Drouin was a popular young talent with the Bolts./JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

At the moment, it's sure to be an unpopular trade. At the moment, the Tampa Bay Lighthing appears to have traded today's cheers for tomorrow's. Or the day after's.

You look at stats. You read the analysts. You try to get your head around this trade.

And what you come up with is this: The Tampa Bay Lightning have turned loose of one of their brightest young offensive players. In return, they got a defenseman who has played four games in the NHL. What's to love? The Bolts just traded a known talent for an unknown one.

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A new Drouin contract might have been difficult./ANDREW J. KRAMER

A new Drouin contract might have been difficult./JEFFREY S. KKNG

Drouin is the guy you cheered for. Drouin is the guy you changed your mind about. You liked him. You liked his futre.

Hey, Drouin was a skid mark, a blur. He could find a rare patch of ice, and he could burst toward the net like few others. Oh, he wasn't a finished product, not yet, but he was 22, not far removed from holding his breath and going home. But he had changed his image. He was going to be something. Most Lightning fans agreed with that.

Mikhail Sergachev? He's a walk down a dark alley. You don't know what's there. As of now, you don't trust what's ahead. That's the problem with trading for a little-known player. Right now, he's a movie preview. The critics say he's going to be pretty good, filled with action. But for the time being, his press clippings are bigger than his resume.

So what do you do when faced with a trade that a lot of people wouldn't have voted for?

Well, you take a breath, and one more time, you decided if you trust Steve Yzerman.If you still think Yzerman is a rare judge of talent, and if you still think he's even-tempered enough to act in the best interests of the Lightning, then maybe you give him some time.

But, yeah, this time, Yzerman better be right.

Put it this way: Yzerman knew Drouin's strengths, and he has studed Sergachev's. He has projected his roster.

And he liked it better with Sergachev than with Drouin.

"We've been looking for a defenseman,” Yzerman said. “He's got good size, very strong, he skates very well," Yzerman said. "He's got an excellent shot, moves the puck well. We're hoping he can continue to be that player as he turns pro. We think he has the chance to to play all situations in this league.

"Those are very difficult to find prospects of that caliber."

Maybe he's wrong, of course. General managers make mistakes, too. Drouin put together an darned impressive highlight reel last season. He has a flair, a gift of creativity, that hinted that he will get better with the years. Drouin was an edge-of-your-seat player, a guy who could perform magic with the puck on his stick.

On the other hand, the Bolts need defensive improvement. There were games last season when the Lightning defenders looked like pylons with the opponents skating past. Jason Garrison is approching his 33rd birthday. Braydon Coburn is 32. Anton Stralman is about to turn 31.

Yzerman said the trade was just about getting a defenseman, dispelling any thoughts that Drouin's walkout of two years left lingering feelings. Drouin is a restricted free agent, and sure, he's going to want to be paid. But doesn't everyone?

"There's risk involved in every trade," Yzerman said. "Jonathan is an extremely talented young man. I expect he's going to have a long and successful career. I wish him good luck."

This trade works, of course, if Sergachev becomes an excellent -- not just good -- defenseman, an anchor on a successful Lighting team. It doesn't work if he's ordinary and if Drouin becomes a superstar.

Bottom line? It works if Yzerman is right.

Here's hoping that he is.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller June 16, 2017 at 10:21 pm

The point is Yzerman doesn’t want to lose either one of those guys and makes the trade to save 1 or the other plus get a player in return that he feels will be of equal value and one he doesn’t need to protect in the expansion draft. Theoretically that makes the roster stronger plus it gives them more cap space I don’t know if that’s the right move but it could be.

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Gary Shelton June 16, 2017 at 11:32 pm

Maybe. But if you think Drouin is the better player, you can afford to lose an Namestnikov. Just my opinion.

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Larry Beller June 16, 2017 at 6:27 am

This trade only gets made because of the expansion draft and salary cap. I hate to see Drouin go and especially to a team in the same division but it prevents the Lightning from losing a good player in the expansion draft and hopefully fills a big need on defense, eventually. With Stamkos and Hedman getting their huge contracts last year someone had to go. That’s the reality of the salary cap. This could be a trade that is good for both teams in the long term but it doesn’t help the Lightning’s chances for next year and their window for winning the Stanley Cup isn’t going to stay open indefinitely.

Reply

Gary Shelton June 16, 2017 at 11:00 am

I have seen dozens of expansion draft predictions. I didn’t see any that thought the team couldn’t protect Drouin. I’d much rather lose Killorn or Nemestnikov.

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