On the surface, I don’t like this trade.  Thursday, the Tampa Bay Lightning traded rising young star, forward Jonathan Drouin to division rival Montreal, for younger defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.  There’s the possibility of exchanging draft choices also in the deal. Why don’t I like it?  Because I like Drouin.  Last season, he scored 21 goals and 53 points, and at times looked unstoppable.  He has incredible offensive skills.  He can make opposing defensemen look foolish.  And he’s only 22 years old.

But here’s why the Lightning Trade is okay.

First of all, I always give GM Steve Yzerman a lot of slack when he starts doing trades. His track record the last few years is very good.

Secondly, the Lightning have depth at forward.  They can afford to trade Drouin.  This off-season, Drouin is a restricted free agent, so he’s going to cost the Lightning some money in the next few seasons.  They’re up against the salary cap as it is.  

And Yzerman has other salary issues to deal with.  Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Andrej Sustr all are due new contracts, you throw in Drouin, and it’s unlikely the team can keep everyone.

Steve Stamkos and Ryan Callahan are due to return next season, so that helps the front line.

Plus, the Lightning needs defensemen, especially a right-handed shot.  The guy they got from Montreal, Mikhail Sergachev, was drafted 9th overall last season, and he’s the Canadiens’ top prospect.  He’s only 19, so it’s possible he might not be ready to play with the big club right away… hopefully down the line, he’ll be a key contributor.

It also enables Yzerman to protect another forward in the upcoming expansion draft, maybe Alex Killorn or Vladislav Namestnikov.

Short-term, this deal won’t help the Lightning.. financially yes, but on the ice, probably not. Long-term, it will, as soon as Sergachev is ready to play.

Read more by Dave Wirth and follow our Sports page for local events and things to do in Tampa. (Cover photo by 813area photographers).