He hasn’t skated in a game since Nov. 15, but now that it’s been almost three months, the Montreal Canadiens are getting forward Jonathan Drouin back tonight. The 24-year-old underwent wrist surgery on Nov. 19 and was originally expected to miss eight weeks, but needed closer to 11. The winger was a game-time decision and went through warm-ups and now is expected to play. CapFriendly reports that the team has activated him as well.
It’s a key return for Drouin, who has had an up-and-down career so far in three years with Montreal. Drouin established himself as a top young winger after scoring 21 goals and 53 points in his third year with the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, Tampa Bay opted to send him to Montreal in a package for Mikhail Sergachev, where he immediately struggled in his first year, scoring just 13 goals. He was able to rectify that last year, scoring 18 goals and 53 points. This year, it looked early on like he was going to break out, scoring seven goals and 15 points in 17 games, close to a point-a-game player. However, the injury put an end to a potential big season.
Drouin’s return (and hopefully fully healthy) is critical to the success of the Canadiens. Montreal brought him in to be a key piece to their top line. The team has been quite successful with Drouin in the lineup. The team is 11-5-3 record with him in the lineup, while the team is just 15-18-4 without him. Drouin will slide onto the third line alongside Max Domi and Artturi Lehkonen.