TAMPA —Former Lightning F Jonathan Drouin, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, makes his first visit Thursday to Amalie Arena since his June trade to the Canadiens for rookie D Mikhail Sergachev, who is having a Calder Trophy-type season.
The game is a big deal in Montreal, where the early returns say the Lightning received the better end of the deal.
Coach Jon Cooper spoke Wednesday about the trade, first mentioning how big a role Drouin played in his three seasons in Tampa, helping the Lightning to the 2015 Stanley Cup final, Eastern Conference championship series and within a whisker of reaching the playoffs last season in an injury-deflated Lightning campaign.
"In the end, money comes into play in this league," Cooper said. "And to sit here and think we had any understanding of the way the trade was going to work out … the bottom line is Jo is the one that was going to bring the most value."
The Lightning had to fill a need on defense and dealt from an area of strength, Cooper said.
"To be honest, I thought (Drouin) was playing at the peak of his development by the end of last year," Cooper said. "I remember when the trade officially happened, thinking, 'Oh, boy, somebody is getting a player that's starting to come into his own.'
"But we had to look at our team, and if there was an area where we had a little bit of depth, it was up front. And we needed players on the back end, and that one worked out well for us."
Not just another game
Sergachev, who played in four games last season for Montreal, said he will not put any extra emphasis on Thursday's game.
"Obviously they're the team that drafted me and gave me a chance, and I'm thankful for that," he said, "but this is going to be a normal game."
D Victor Hedman said he expects Drouin to play with a little more energy.
" 'Dru' is a shifty little guy who can dominate a game," Hedman said. "We know he's going to be on his toes (Thursday), and we expect him to have his best game of the year."
Stralman exits early
D Anton Stralman left practice after the first 10 minutes for what the team called "body maintenance." He skated on his own before practice.