In Defence of Jonathan Drouin

                                                                                    (Jonathan Drouin: Photo by TVA Sports)

The Montreal Canadiens have slipped out the playoffs, for now.

After what some would have considered to be a cinderella season, this team has finally fallen out of a playoff spot. Unless they start piling on some consistent wins, playoff hopes will crumble. Following their most recent loss to the New York Islanders, the team’s effort, or lack thereof was an embarrassment. So much so that Andrew Shaw spoke up during his post game scrum:

“They came out to win the game from the start. They wanted to win more than we did, we need to be a team playing hard. Everyone. All lines, all D, goalie; everyone has to be playing their best every night. Lines are taking nights off, players are taking nights off. They don’t have that fight.”

While Andrew Shaw isn’t loaded with skill and isn’t a high end point producer by any means, he’s one of the few players on this team who brings his all every single night. It’s worth also entertaining the idea that maybe because it’s been the most productive season of his career (17 goals, 19 assists, 36 points in 53 games) that he’s inclined to call out his teammates. Shaw is a proven leader on ice and a tremendous teammate in the locker room. He made the right decision in calling out his team, especially at this point in the season.

However, it’s important to note that these comments aren’t exclusive to one player, but to the entire team.

Following these remarks, the media was able to find a whipping boy. This one, as always, was none other than Jonathan Drouin. Craig Button mentioned earlier on TSN that Jonathan Drouin was the “poster boy” for these remarks. Highlighted were the former 3rd overall pick’s underwhelming statistics in his last 15 games. He had four points in one game in an 8-1 victory versus Detroit, but in his last 15 he has been held pointless.

To suggest that he’s been awful would be kind. He’s been uninspired, uninvested, and a massive problem on a team that needs offence. The fact is, Jonathan Drouin has been so bad, and we’re not talking about bad luck, he has shown no effort, he has shown no investment in the outcome and when Andrew Shaw talks, that’s the guy right there.”

Without a doubt, there is truth to what Craig Button was saying, but why is it only Drouin who faces the most criticism game after game?

Yes, at times, Jonathan Drouin’s play seems disinterested and rather lazy, but one thing is certain:

His production is going up.

Drouin continues to break his personal best in production year after year. This while being on his second year of a 5-year 5.5 million dollar contract. His numbers are improving, albeit slowly, improving nonetheless. Drouin is averaging .71 points per game this season with an even strength corsi of 54.2CF%. His individual xGF% (expected goals for) is 12.98%. With 222 shots so far on the season, 70.03% of his shots are on net. Drouin is able to successfully generate scoring chances throughout the offensive zone.

(Chart by Sean Tierny (@ChartingHockey), data by @moneypuck.com)

Regular Season Production

2016-17 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 73 21 32 53
2017-18 Montreal Canadiens NHL 77 13 33 46
2018-19 Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 17 33 50

Playoff Production

2015-16 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 17 5 9 14

I have been fairly critical of Jonathan Drouin over the course of his time in Montreal, not so much due to the acquisition of Drouin himself, but rather what Montreal gave up to get him. Defensemen such as Mikhail Sergachev are tough to come across. To me, he is a player Bergevin should have hung onto. The expectations coming to Montreal were high. Drouin is a Quebec native and was a Habs fan growing up. When going from a non hockey market to the epicentre and Mecca of hockey, theres bound to be pressure. Following a brutal season, acquiring Drouin may have been a gut move from Marc Bergevin to placate this rabid fanbase. There’s an argument to be made that there was a bigger need for Sergachev on the left side over a winger forced at center. That being said, expressing malcontent towards losing a player isn’t a knock or criticism on the player that was fetched in return. Moreover, there is truth to criticism of Jonathan Drouin. When he’s on, he’s the best player on the ice. When he’s off, like Craig Button said, he appears disinterested and unmotivated, and it tends to be exasperated at the worst possible times. Fans should lower expectations and/or be patient. The pressure was on from the beginning. The moment this trade was made, Drouin was labeled as the saviour, which is why fans and analysts alike had such high expectations. Drouin was pegged as an incoming superstar to save the team from its never ending offensive woes. This may be true, but if we want it to be, we need to look at two possible outcomes for Jonathan Drouin:

A) Either he isn’t a superstar, but a good player, who, like any scorer will have painful dry spells.

Or.

B) A star who needs a bit more time to adjust to the city, the market, the playing style, the players, the line juggling, the position and who needs to keep playing and learning for it to come to fruition.

Fact is, either of these could be true. The latter would be preferable, but it seems a bit too premature to declare a 23 year old with an increasing production year after year, a bust.

There are ten games left of the regular season. At this point in the season, when the team is fighting for their lives to make the postseason, everyone needs to play up to their potential. The onus can’t be entirely on Jonathan Drouin. The team around him must pick up the slack.

For All About The Habs

-Patrick Tallon

 

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4 Responses to In Defence of Jonathan Drouin

  1. Nice comment but fact is JD is now 23 and he should have his game together or at least showing signs that it is coming. His recent show of lack of desire, disinterest and non-motivation is what is really troubling. If the drive was there but lacked results like Lafleur before him or a la Atturi currently …that would be one thing… but this points to a player headed in the other direction sadly.

    Bob March 18, 2019 at 8:28 am Reply
  2. Stop making excuses!!!

    habbernack March 18, 2019 at 10:42 am Reply
  3. He thinks he’s still playing junior with the plays he make. Not much of an offensive threat but always a defensive liability.Yzerman knew what he was doing and MB should have known all about Drouin’s “character and attitude” that he prizes so much when he refused to report to Syracuse. Stop making excuses for Drouin.

    habbernack March 25, 2019 at 9:29 am Reply
  4. after 5 years in the NHL you are no longer developing…he has and never will have any defensive abilities..how can you say his production is increasing as he went from 53 pts in TB to 46 and 50 in Montreal..that is not progressing…he is at best a 50 pointer and will never be the Net Great French Canadian as Bergevin declared when he traded for him

    baybye June 14, 2019 at 9:24 am Reply

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