As someone who is and always has been firmly on Team Drouin, I haven't been a huge fan of the idea that Tampa should trade him for a defender. Drouin has the potential to be really, really special. You don't trade a player of that caliber for anything but a top-pairing defender. The Lightning don't need a top-pairing defender; they have one in Victor Hedman. Instead, what the Lightning need is someone who can step in on a second pair and take minutes away from players like Andrej Sustr and Jason Garrison. That's the pressing need on this roster.
For those reasons, I've always been partial to the idea of trading Johnson-plus for a good but not great defenseman. The concern, of course, is what the Lightning's center depth would look like after dealing Johnson. Is a trio of Stamkos, Point, and Namestnikov enough to make a run in the Eastern Conference? I think there's a reasonable case to be made that the answer is 'yes', but I'm admittedly on the fence. Some insurance would be comforting.
With Alex Galchenyuk's name swirling around the rumor mill these days, it hit me:
Galchenyuk's name has been popping up in trade rumors for a while, just like Drouin's. As part of the bigger picture, this sort of trade proposal made sense to me. Only minutes later, my random tongue-in-cheek proposal gained some sense of legitimacy:Drouin for Galchenyuk who plays 2C. Johnson + pick for D. Protect Namestnikov and put him with 91 and 86. Boom. https://t.co/NBquPvJo8E— Michael Stuart (@MikeStuartTLL) June 14, 2017
I was fairly onboard with the idea of Galchenyuk for Drouin as a straight up swap to begin with, so the idea that Montreal would be looking to add something of value is just icing on the cake. As much as I'm a big Drouin fan, if that sort of deal on the table Steve Yzerman shouldn't be doing anything except saying 'thank you'.again, nothing definitive, but sounds like the Habs would be packaging a first with Galchenyuk in the deal.— Conor McKenna (@mckennaconor) June 14, 2017
Zooming out from the details, it's not hard to imagine the Lightning trading Drouin, whether for Galchenyuk or someone else. Even with all the outward pleasantries exchanged over the past calendar year, it's been hard to ever feel that the Drouin situation was settled after the infamous trade request. Until pen is put to paper on a long-term extension, I'll find it difficult to be convinced that Drouin is in the Lightning's long-term plans, as much as I hope that he is. Rumblings like this one only serve to reinforce that.
The bottom line: It's not unreasonable to think that there might be a little bit of fire somewhere, even if only the tiniest bit of smoke can be found. McKenna's tweet is by no means a guarantee that this deal is going to happen, or that it will even get close. But, given all that we know about the Lightning, it's not hard to envision some big things happening over the next few days. This sort of deal could very well be one of those things. There's nothing left to do now but wait and see.
As always, thanks for reading.