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Drouin eager for opportunity with Avalanche: 'I needed a fresh start'

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Jonathan Drouin is optimistic that signing with the Colorado Avalanche is what he needs to resurrect his career.

Drouin joined the Central Division powerhouse on a one-year, $825,000 contract when free agency opened July 1, putting an end to an underwhelming six-year tenure with the Montreal Canadiens.

"I think I needed a fresh start,” Drouin said, per Evan Rawal of Colorado Hockey Now. "Obviously, there was a lot of ups and downs in my six years in Montreal, so I’m super excited to get a fresh start somewhere new. It’s a great team, and it’s been a great team for a lot of years, so I’m just going to try to help them any way I can, and try to find my game again. I know it’s there, it’s just a matter of confidence."

Drouin was traded to the Canadiens in 2017 for Mikhail Sergachev. His stint in his home province was encouraging to begin with, but on- and off-ice issues derailed his trajectory as an up-and-coming star. On top of injuries, Drouin revealed he was dealing with insomnia and anxiety severe enough to keep him out of the lineup during Montreal's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021.

The 28-year-old winger said reuniting with Nathan MacKinnon was a key reason in signing with Colorado. The pair were junior teammates for the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads and won the Memorial Cup together in 2013 before both going top three in that year's NHL draft.

"We definitely were texting quite a bit in the past couple of weeks," Drouin said. "Obviously, I’ve known Nate for quite a while now. To get a text from him at this time of my career was something I was looking forward to."

Avalanche general manager Chris McFarland believes Drouin should mesh well with Colorado's high-octane attack.

"I believe Drouin’s skillset will definitely play well with our other skilled players," he noted.

Drouin notched two goals and 27 assists in 58 games this past season while averaging nearly 15 minutes per contest.

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