Avalanche forward Jonathan Drouin is enjoying hockey and life again

Colorado Avalanche v Carolina Hurricanes
Colorado Avalanche v Carolina Hurricanes / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

Jonathan Drouin, forward for the Colorado Avalanche, has been through a lot in his NHL career. Despite being a high draft pick, he never lived up to the expectations of others while putting up solid numbers.

After a leave of absence, he is back to being productive with an old friend on his line. Will this lead to a new contract?

Drouin was drafted third overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2013 NHL Draft. He was coming off an extremely successful career with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and was poised to be as successful in the highest league one can play.

While he did not light the league on fire, he did have four goals and 28 assists for 32 points in 70 games. He fit in well, got adjusted, and was comfortable in his new settings, hoping for a more successful sophomore season.

The Colorado Avalanche are lucky to have Jonathan Drouin in 2024

While injuries limited him to 21 games in year two, his third season was the breakout one that Tampa Bay was hoping for. He had 21 goals and 32 assists for 53 points in 73 games and looked like a top-six player.

However, things did change behind the scenes and rumors started about Drouin not returning to the Lightning for his fourth season.

Those rumors were right and he would be traded by Tampa Bay, along with a conditional sixth-round pick, to the Montreal Canadians for defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional second-round pick in 2018.

He would spend six seasons with the Canadians and contribute 48 goals and 138 assists for 186 points in 321 games.

He did miss over 100 games in Montreal due to injury and taking time away from the game of hockey to deal with mental health issues, which occurred in April of 2021. This would be the end of the road for him in Canada as he would become a free agent, able to sign with whomever he wanted.

He would pick a team that featured a former teammate of his in Halifax, to which both had tremendous success. On July 1, 2023, he would sign a one-year deal worth $825,000 with the Colorado Avalanche, reuniting him with former Moosehead teammate, Nathan MacKinnon.

They played two seasons together in the QMJHL and combined for 287 points (MacKinnon 153, Drouin 134). They put fear into the opposition because of their unheard-of offensive abilities.

While MacKinnon has already established himself as a top-three best player in the league, the move to sign Drouin was to get him back on track offensively and put him on a line with MacKinnon to achieve success quickly. They did just that and both responded well.

This season, Drouin has 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 57 games while on the first line with MacKinnon. Drouin has 26 penalty minutes, four power-play goals, 22 blocked shots, and 34 hits.

His 32 points are the most since the 2018-19 season and his time on ice, 17:40, is the most since the 2016-17 season. Playing on the top line certainly has had a positive effect on his overall play and point production, giving him full confidence he can once again contribute at a high level.

Drouin could be in the running for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy this season, which is given to "the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey". He has come back from injuries and mental health issues to once again be a contributor on the offensive end.

The Avalanche does have something to think about. With the success he has had on the line with MacKinnon, do they re-sign him to a contract extension after the season?

He will be an unrestricted free agent but has looked comfortable with the Avalanche as they have put him in a tremendous position to succeed.

He is already providing scoring on the top line and is playing with one of the best players in the league. He was making $825,000 this season and it would not cost a ton to bring him back at a minimal raise.