Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has been linked to the Montreal Canadiens in trade rumors for the past two seasons. A rumor that seems will not go away until Gostisbehere is not a Flyer anymore.
However, even with the rumors, the Flyers still have not engaged the Canadiens in trade talks surrounding Gostisbehere. But, could Montreal & Philadelphia be perfect trade partners for two struggling forwards?
Jonathan Drouin has not been the player Montreal thought they were trading for. A player who the Canadiens traded prize defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev for in 2017.
When Drouin was traded to Montreal, he was in a dispute with the Tampa Bay Lightning over a new contract. A dispute that started the year prior with Drouin originally not accepting his demotion to the AHL.
While Montreal thought they were getting a top6 forward for a highly praised defense prospect, Drouin has turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment. Contributing only 99 points, 31 goals & 68 assists, in his first two seasons in Montreal.
This year seemed to be the breaking point for Drouin. Who missed 43 games this season, 37 due to a wrist injury suffered in November. But, after returning, Drouin found himself multiple times on the 4th line & a healthy scratch over the final 15-games before the Covid stoppage.
That trend continued against the Flyers in their 1st round matchup. Coming to the forefront in Game4 when Drouin was put on the 4th line & then benched for most of the 2nd half of the game.
But, why would Montreal trade Jonathan Drouin?
The main reason is Drouin seems to be out of favor in Montreal for not living up to the hype. Once seen as their future, Drouin has been replaced by the next group of younger forwards in Montreal.
A more important reason is Drouin’s modified no-trade clause kicks in after next season. Something that would make Drouin even harder to trade in his final two years of his contract.
But, who could interest the Canadiens? Enter James van Riemsdyk.
James van Riemsdyk has fallen out of favor in Philadelphia just like Drouin in Montreal. When van Riemsdyk returned to Philadelphia in 2018, his return was seen as a help to the Flyers struggling goal-scoring from the year before. Which did not go so well when van Riemsdyk was injured in his 2nd game back. Van Riemsdyk still managed 27 goals & 21 assists in 66 games in 2018-2019.
However, this season under new head coach Alain Vigneault, van Riemsdyk just could not find his role. Being demoted to the 3rd line early in November & taken off the 1st power-play unit in December.
But, why should Montreal consider trading Drouin for van Riemsdyk?
Van Riemsdyk fills a role more fitting to head coach Claude Julien’s style. A role that would be very similar to Milan Lucic’s role in Boston under Julien. Both big bodied, hard on the puck players that grind in-front of the net.
Another incentive would be power-play help. While van Riemsdyk fell out of favor on the Flyers 1st power-play, his extensive power-play success would be a big addition to the 21st ranked power-play from last season. A power-play that could use a big body in-front with Shea Weber’s big blast coming from the point.
If the Flyers and Canadiens came together on a trade for the two, it would be a pure hockey trade. Something that Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher made known in June would be the norm this offseason with Covid budget issues coming next season. A “money-in, money-out” type of deal as Fletcher described it.
In any potential deal, the Flyers would have to retain some of van Riemsdyk’s salary. Which would be no issue with Drouin’s $1.5M less $5.5M cap hit to van Riemsdyk’s $7M cap hit. A retention that both sides could get behind.
So if you were the GMs, would you make this trade?
PHI – Jonathan Drouin, $1.5M retention
MTL – James van Riemsdyk ($5.5M cap hit) , 3rd round pick 2021
Both van Riemsdyk & Drouin could use new starts with new teams next season. Could Montreal & Philadelphia be the locations for the two?
Photo by Mark Blinch via Getty Images