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Montreal Canadiens trade for Jonathan Drouin in offseason stunner

The NHL offseason begins with a bang!

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the Montreal Canadiens did it again! Less than a week out from the expansion draft, Montreal has dropped the first big offseason trade bomb on us all as they have acquired Jonathan Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Going back Tampa Bay’s way is defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional second-round pick in 2018. The Canadiens also get a conditional sixth-round pick in 2018 along with Drouin. The condition is that if Sergachev plays 40 games — regular season or postseason — for the Lightning, no picks will be exchanged.

Though not as huge as last offseason’s one-for-one stunner, the acquisition of Drouin is another win-now move from general manager Marc Bergevin. Drouin had 53 points in 73 games for the Lightning this past season, a career high after playing in just 21 games the previous year. The 22-year-old has reportedly asked for a trade out of Tampa Bay within the last year and a half, and he was ultimately suspended for being a no-show to an AHL game.

Hanging over Tampa Bay’s head was likely the looming expansion draft. The Lightning are in a bit of a bind with how many talented forwards they need to protect. Shipping Drouin to Montreal alleviates their problem, and the return is not too shabby either.

Going back to Tampa Bay is defensive prospect Sergachev, who was until this point Montreal’s best prospect in the pipeline. Though Sergachev has played just four NHL games, his numbers in the OHL are strong. In 117 games for the Windsor Spitfires, Sergachev has an even 100 points after being drafted by the Canadiens as the No. 9 pick in the 2016 draft.

The trade gives the Canadiens much-needed offense for the short term, but weakens their defense in the long term. Meanwhile, the Lightning’s offense takes a hit — though they have the pieces to step up in Drouin’s absence — as they resolve a looming expansion draft problem and add to their future defensive core.

It’s also likely this trade has rocked forward the dominoes that will likely fall as we get closer to the expansion draft.