Five Potential Destinations for Drouin
With news breaking that Jonathan Drouin wants out of Tampa Bay, as discussed on the latest One Puck Short Podcast, potential landing spots have been thrown around like like a featherweight in a sumo wrestling match.
Some seem more plausible than others, with Drouin’s apparent belief he should be in the NHL right now (rather than getting some ice time with Syracuse in the AHL) likely to make some General Managers wary of tabling a serious offer for the former 3rd overall pick.
It’s also worth noting that with one more year left on his rookie contract, and restricted free agency following its expiration in 2017, Tampa Bay hold most of the cards here, and General Manager Steve Yzerman can be patient with the market before pulling the trigger on any move.
But there are those who would benefit from the addition of a skilled 20-year old like Drouin, here One Puck Short looks at five possible landing spots for the Quebec native:
While Drouin has been utilised as a left winger by Tampa Bay, he has experience playing at centre – which should automatically stir Dave Poile’s interest.
The Predators are not great down the middle, and although, as noted, much (read: basically all) of Drouin’s NHL experience has come out wide this isn’t a barrier to Nashville making a move, then plugging the former Halifax Moosehead’s forward in between wingers such as James Neal, Filip Forsberg or Craig Smith. Drouin’s play making skills would certainly suit such a role anyway.
And at just 20, Drouin would become part of a younger group of Predators which would also include Roman Josi (25), Ryan Ellis (25), Forsberg (21), Calle Jarnkrok (24) and Seth Jones – who was selected fourth overall by the Predators at the 2013 Draft, right after Drouin. So a long term planning ‘win’ also.
In terms of what Tampa Bay might seek in return, Drouin still has the kind of cachet that might finally convince Nashville to part with one of their defensive assets, bolstering a Lighting blue line which really only has Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman to get excited about right now.
While many drew the obvious link between Drouin and Colorado because of Nathan MacKinnon, it’s worth noting that Drouin also played with Jets’ rookie Nikolaj Ehlers in Halifax.
Such junior ties are unlikely to form any real basis for a trade – they’re anecdotal really – but Winnipeg might at least consider inquiring about Drouin.
The Jets boast some solid young players in the form of Jacob Trouba, Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele but ultimately lack ‘punch’ on the wings, and have a limited pool of top prospects on either the left or right moving forward.
With Andrew Ladd heading towards unrestricted free agency, as well as Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg might be able to offer Tampa some veteran help down the stretch as part of a larger package (because giving up Drouin for a rental alone would be insane) while Winnipeg adds some young talent in the ultra competitive Central Division.
It might at least be worth Steve Yzerman and Kevin Cheveldayoff talking if it becomes clear Ladd and/or Byfuglien won’t be returning to Manitoba.
It’s a testament to how bad the Pacific has been this year that Anaheim was able to go from dead last in the league to third in the Division, but the Ducks problems don’t end simply because they managed to over take four other erratic teams.
Anaheim has scored the fewest goals in the NHL this season with just 73.
Is anyone going to claim they wouldn’t benefit from the addition of a skilled young playmaker at this point?
Who the Ducks might be able to offer in return is the tricky part. The Ducks defence has been its saving grace, allowing the fourth fewest goals against in the NHL at this point, and as such tinkering with the blue line simply to acquire Drouin would be risky.
Would Bob Murray perhaps offer up Jakob Silfverberg in any potential deal? Again some sort of package is almost certainly needed to make any move happen, but the Swede does have some offensive upside and his 56.63% Corsi For is better than all but two current Lighting players – Vladislav Namestnikov (also 56.63%) and Cedric Paquette (59.36% in 15 games)
New York Islanders
The Islanders have juggled John Tavares line mates on and off for some time now, seemingly of the impression just by being with #91 will make a given player a much greater scoring threat, and then re-deploying the likes of Kyle Okposo to try and help balance out the rest of the roster.
But with Okposo heading towards free agency, is Drouin the kind of talented young player Garth Snow looks to bring in to both partner Tavares but also act as a potential ‘replacement’ for Okposo should the 27-year old leave Brooklyn?
It’s hard not to make a Nino Niederreiter joke at this point, given the way the Swiss winger left the franchise, but the Islanders again might be one of the few teams who could offer some kind of package to land Drouin, with a bevy of good prospects in the system, and the 20-year olds arrival at the Barclays Center might provide a welcome boost to a team whose offensive output has been inconsistent of late.
Tampa Bay Lightning
How about the possibility this situation blows over? Drouin racks up the points in Syracuse, gets recalled and finds himself a permanent part of the Lightning line up moving forward?
Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh described the situation as ‘untenable’ in a statement, but also added “Jonathan loves playing for the fans in Tampa, he loves his teammates and many people within the Lightning organization have treated him well. It was his sincere intention to play in Tampa for many years” – so it’s not all bad in Florida.
Drouin is not the first high draft pick to request a trade away from Tampa, with the club basically locking Vincent Lecavalier and then coach John Tortorella in a room together until they resolved their differences in 2002.
Isn’t it possible Yzerman can do something similar with Drouin and Coach Jon Cooper?
Cooper’s apparent assertions Drouin’s defensive game is not up to NHL standard is a little odd when you consider the many regular NHLers who are just as bad, or worse, in their own end; and it’s not like Drouin can’t learn to be better whilst also getting NHL minutes.