TAMPA (AP) - The Tampa Bay Lightning got the young defenseman they have been looking for, acquiring Mikhail Sergachev from the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday in exchange for highly skilled forward Jonathan Drouin.
The teams announced the deal about 48 hours before the NHL's trade freeze prior to the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft. Along with Sergachev, Tampa Bay gets a conditional 2018 second-round pick and Montreal a 2018 conditional sixth-rounder.
The 22-year-old Drouin set career highs last season with 21 goals, 32 assists and 53 points, and is a pending restricted free agent. He has had a rocky tenure with the Lighting since being the third pick in 2013, asking for a trade in 2015-16 and coming back to play a prominent role this past season in the absence of injured captain Steven Stamkos.
By trading Drouin, Tampa Bay can protect an extra forward in the expansion draft and has more salary-cap space moving forward with other players in need of new deals.
Sergachev, who turns 19 next week, was the ninth pick in the 2016 draft. Considered one of the top defensive prospects in hockey, the Russian had 10 goals and 33 assists for 43 points with the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires this past season and was a point-a-game player as they won the Memorial Cup.