Montreal Canadiens: Jonathan Drouin enters year with chip on his shoulder

Dec 2, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens left wing Jonathan Drouin. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens left wing Jonathan Drouin. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens are hoping that Jonathan Drouin can get things back on track as the 2022-23 season rolls around once again. He’s in a contract year and needs to come out and prove himself.

It has not been the best tenure with the Montreal Canadiens for Jonathan Drouin. While his on-ice performance could be better, Drouin has made the most of his opportunity, really attaching himself to the community.

Arpon Basu of The Athletic offers some more insight into Drouin’s community outreach efforts in a recent article ($$). He also talks about how Drouin has undergone some tough stretches with the Habs, and he is not wrong.

Drouin has had unlucky stretches of injuries. From wrist injuries to COVID-19 diagnoses, things have not been kind to him. On top of that, Drouin has battled mental health struggles in the form of anxiety and insomnia during his tenure with the Canadiens as well.

All these things make it harder for a professional hockey player to be a professional hockey player. While that sounds a bit obvious, Drouin struggled to be able to go through the motions and be a professional hockey player with the struggles he was having.

He has worked hard to get back on the ice, and after his wrist injury ended his 2021-22 season, it was a tough break for him coming off of a return for the aforementioned mental health struggles. But after a summer of recovery, Drouin is aiming for a comeback.

Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin is hoping for a better year.

It was not complete radio silence from Drouin. He did get back on the ice, which was a step in the right direction for the Habs forward. He played in 34 games with the Habs in 2021-22. He scored six goals and added 14 assists for 20 total points.

It’s not the performance the Canadiens were hoping for out of Drouin. But given his off-ice struggles and a long road to a return, getting him back on the ice was a start. After all, he was traded to the Habs in 2017 along with a sixth-round draft pick for a second-round draft choice and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

While Sergachev has proved to be worth far more than Drouin in the time since then, there’s still hope that Drouin can get back on the ice and be a beneficial member of the Habs offense. At this point, Drouin has spent eight years in the NHL and is not the cheapest asset.

When he got to the Habs organization, Drouin signed a six-year, $33 million contract. Now, he has just one year left on his contract, where he is carrying a $5.5 million cap hit. It is not exactly the cheapest, but he’s in a position to come back in 2022-23 and be an asset to the team’s forward core.

In a contract year, Drouin has to come into 2022-23 looking to prove himself. While people have been saying he needs to break out for a few seasons now, it’s true now more than ever. The Canadiens have to be hoping he can finally get things going offensively.

If not, he may be looking for a new home following the season. But for now, there’s hope that he can enter the 2022-23 season healthy and looking to make an impact on the team’s forward core.

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One thing is certain; he’s going to come into the 2022-23 season with a chip on his shoulder.