“I want to become an elite player at the centre”, said Jonathan Drouin

Photo: Chris O’meara Associated Press
Jonathan Drouin has had a first half of the campaign disappointing: it has been limited to 5 goals and 14 helpers in 37 meetings.

Jonathan Drouin has not received the greatest vote of confidence when its general manager stated that, ” in an ideal world “, the quebec striker would not be used at the centre by the Montreal canadiens.


In spite of everything, Drouin was able to put things in perspective after having raised an assist in the victory of 5-2 over the Canadian in the face of the Vancouver Canucks, on Sunday evening.


“I knew this would be difficult. It is difficult to learn how to play center in the NHL, especially after a few years of not playing the position, he recognized. I was expecting a challenge and there are evenings where it is more difficult than others. But I was expecting that. “


During the press conference a few hours after the announcement of the acquisition of Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning, in exchange for the young defender Mikhail Sergachev on June 15, the director general of the Canadian, Marc Bergevin, had mentioned that the possibility to employ Drouin at center was a factor in its acquisition.


“It is certain that we have looked at it closely. But at the end of the day, Claude [Julien, the head coach] is going to sit down with Jonathan and will make the best decision for the organization, ” he said.


The opinion of Bergevin was more clear and less encouraging Sunday, when he made a mid-season.


“In an ideal world, it would be a winger, he said. But for now, it is in the center where he can most help the team. This is not ideal, but it can’t hurt. He’s only 22 years old. This is an age where you’re still learning. “


When asked about it after the game against the Canucks, Claude Julien has had a response similar to that of his boss. “We can dissect all the little details, but at the time we speak, it is our best option, he said. He told me at the beginning of the year that he liked to play in the centre because it has more space. He will only improve playing at that position. It is not a bad center even if he is a guy who doesn’t win a lot of bets in the game. It also has things to learn defensively. But since the beginning of the year, he understands better its role as the centre. “


Not to lower the arm


The lack of chemistry between Drouin and Max Pacioretty has also been referred to by Bergevin. The two men have experienced a first half of the campaign disappointing. Pacioretty has registered 10 goals and 13 helpers in 42 games, while Drouin has been limited to 5 goals and 14 helpers in 37 meetings.


Drouin also has a success rate of only 40.3 per cent in the circle of stakes in the game and a differential of minus-17.


The pill is much more difficult to swallow for fans that Sergachev connaîtune remarkable season with the Lightning with 8 goals and 19 helpers in 42 games.


But Drouin does not lower the arm. “I do not know whether in two or three years, I’m going to be at the centre or on the wing. My goal is to become a good center player in the national League, he said. I am at the center at the moment and I want to improve myself. I want to become an elite player in the center. If I go back to the wing in a year or in a month, this is not really me who will take the decision. “


For his part, Julien has said repeatedly that he never closed the door to that option, but it seemed to have had enough of this subject — especially as he recalls the one who has to sweat for his predecessor, Michel Therrien, with Alex Galchenyuk.