Montreal Canadiens: Jonathan Drouin Out Again, but Habs Should Bring Him Back

Mar 21, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens announced that yet another player is going to be out for the remainder of the season.

Jonathan Drouin had surgery on his wrist late last week and will not return to play for the Canadiens this season.

That is not a recorded message, but talking about Jonathan Drouin getting injured is starting to feel like deja vu.

Drouin did not play a game in the playoffs last season as the team made a run to the Stanley Cup Final. He missed the final few weeks of the regular season, and the entire postseason after dealing with anxiety and sleep problems.

He missed plenty of time in the 2019-20 season as well, finishing that campaign with just 27 games played. Over the past three seasons, including the rest of this one, Drouin will have played 105 regular season games and missed 104.

He has one year left on his contract with a $5.5 million cap hit and plenty of fans would be happy to see the Canadiens get rid of that contract in any way possible. A trade for a bag of pucks or a buyout have been suggested by many on social media.

However, I am here to tell you it would make no sense whatsoever to get rid of Drouin right now.

First of all, the return of a bag of pucks is probably accurate. After so many injuries and a fairly sizeable cap hit, the market for Drouin would be almost non-existent. You aren’t getting a first round pick for him at the draft, or a top prospect. In fact, getting another team to take on his whole salary might be difficult.

However, the biggest reason to keep Drouin is because there is, still, some untapped offensive potential in his game. At the start of this season the Canadiens were horrible offensively, but Drouin still put up seven points in the team’s first ten games. That’s not phenomenal production, but for a guy getting paid like a second line winger, he was meeting those expectations.

Then he got hurt.

When he came back, he quickly got into a decent role, scoring nine points in an 11 game span.

Then he got hurt again.

He came back to play two games and scored a goal.

Then he was out of the lineup for a couple weeks once again.

He returned to score three points in five games in the middle of January before another lengthy absence. He eventually came back, but just for two games and he was last in the lineup on March 21st in a game against the Boston Bruins.

Though the injuries seem to be piling up at a greater level than ever before, there were plenty of stretches of good play for Drouin in there this season. While almost every other player on the team struggled to score early this season, Drouin put up 20 points in 32 games under Dominique Ducharme.

That’s a 51 point pace over a full 82 game schedule, and that was with no one else on the team producing offence.

When Martin St. Louis took over as head coach, the offensive players on the team saw their production take off. Drouin is one of the few players on the roster that haven’t had the benefit of playing under an offensive minded coach like St. Louis.

Cole Caufield exploded from looking like a minor leaguer to looking like an elite first line NHL talent under the new head coach. Nick Suzuki also saw his offensive game take off to a new level in the past two months with St. Louis guiding the ship.

Not only could Drouin also see his offence increase, he might turn out to be the best fit on the top line with Suzuki and Caufield. The two young wingers could use an offensive minded left winger that can get the puck to Caufield in the slot where he can use his terrific shot.

Drouin was a 50-55 point player before St. Louis showed up. There is a good chance he could surpass those totals under the current Habs coaching staff.

Not only should the Canadiens hang on to Drouin, but they should be offering him a spot on the top line in training camp to see what he can do with the team’s two bright young stars.

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