If he wants to keep playing for the team he grew up cheering for past the 2022-23 season, Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin knows it’s up to him to prove he still deserves to.
The 27-year-old Ste-Agathe, Quebec native is entering his walk season and he realizes how big this coming season is for him. On Tuesday, Jonathan Drouin addressed reporters ahead of his fifth annual golf tournament benefiting the CHUM Foundation and he didn’t duck the tough questions about his status and future with the Montreal Canadiens.
“It’s going to be up to me to prove to management to keep me for more years to come,” Drouin replied when asked about entering the final season of a six-year, $33 million contract that carries a $5.5 million AAV. “It’ll be my play on the ice that will do the talking throughout the year. You just got to play your game and, if they want that on the club moving forward, they’ll make it happen.”
Drouin has seemingly been the subject of NHL trade rumours since the conclusion of his first season with the Canadiens. After being acquired (along with a conditional 2018 sixth round pick), from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenceman Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional second-round pick in 2018 on June 15, 2017, Drouins immediately signed the aforementioned six-year contract but has never been able to live up to the expectations that and being a local player brought. Drouin had 13 goals and 33 assists in 77 games during the first season of the contract and then 18 goals and 35 assists in 81 games the following season. Since the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, Drouin has been hampered by injuries and played in just 105 games over the course of the last three seasons.
Drouin, who had six goals and 14 assists in 34 games last season, feels like he was playing better last season and likely would’ve improved more if he had gotten surgery for his wrists earlier and now he’s ready for a fresh and final chance to prove he belongs with the Montreal Canadiens.
“I had a good start to the season last year, but then my wrist; I’ve had surgeries on both my wrists so that shouldn’t be a problem this season,” said Drouin on where he’s at with his health. “It was unfortunate last season. If I had had my surgery in January, which I maybe should have, I would have been able to play at least the last month of the season with the new management and new coaching staff.”