A poor outing for Jonathan Drouin in a recent pre-season game sparked conjecture over the 24-year-old winger's future with the Montreal Canadiens.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman observed Drouin logged a team-low 11:57 of ice time during last week's 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, suggesting it was a situation worth watching. Colleague Eric Engels subsequently cited an Eastern Conference executive claiming Drouin's name was “out there” in the rumor mill. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin quickly dismissed the trade rumors. Matt Larkin, meanwhile, cited sources claiming Bergevin hasn't been shopping Drouin. Larkin felt the Canadiens' lack of surplus wingers makes them unlikely to put Drouin on the trade block.
Nevertheless, this is a crucial season for Drouin. Acquired by the Canadiens two years ago, he was expected to provide a much-needed boost to their popgun offense. His first season resulted in a disappointing 46-point effort. Drouin matched his career high of 53 points last season but his production sputtered over the second half of the schedule.
The Canadiens need a better effort from Drouin if they hope to reach the playoffs. Another streaky performance will make him a hot topic for media trade chatter over the course of this season.
JOHNSON ON THE BLOCK
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson was reportedly set to become part of a multi-player trade last May that would've sent Phil Kessel to the Minnesota Wild. Kessel spiked that deal and was later shipped to the Arizona Coyotes, but Johnson, 32, recently resurfaced in the rumor mill when he was a healthy scratch from a preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings last Wednesday.
On Sunday, The Athletic's Rob Rossi cited sources claiming Penguins GM Jim Rutherford informed Johnson that he was part of several trade options. Rutherford reportedly wanted to keep the blueliner aware of the situation, warning him a deal “within the next 48 hours” was possible.
Two days later, however, Mike DeFabo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Rutherford denied the rumors. “I'm sorry to see a player have to go through that where there's things thrown out there publicly that aren't true,” he said.
Johnson is expected to be in the Penguins’ lineup for their season opener against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Still, it's probably not the last time he'll come up in trade rumors this season.
LATEST ON DUCKS, STARS
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman last week reported the Anaheim Ducks continue to shop for a right-shot defenseman. The Ducks attempted to acquire Justin Faulk from the Carolina Hurricanes before he was dealt to the St. Louis Blues. There's talk they kicked tires on Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen, as well.
One blueliner who is available is the Dallas Stars’ Julius Honka. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported the Stars' asking price for Honka is a second- or third-round pick or a young player. The 23-year-old restricted free agent is skating in Finland awaiting a trade.
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