Jonathan Drouin and the Tampa Bay Lightning

I’ll start this by saying that I’ve always been a fan of the way Jonathan Drouin plays, ever since his days with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL i’ve been in awe of this kids abilities which is why the Lightning took him with the third pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

He failed to make the Lightning roster the season after his draft and was sent back to Halifax where he put up a 108 point season in 46 games and the year after he finally made it to the NHL playing in 70 games where he put up 32 points before being used sparingly (only 6 appearances) in the Lighting’s run to the Stanley Cup final where they lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Now in his second year in the NHL, Drouin wants out of Tampa Bay, something he requested way back in November. The news came out when the 20-year old was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.

I’ve got no issue with Drouin wanting out, if a player doesn’t want to play somewhere for whatever reason they’re only human and they’re allowed to want to go a different direction in their career, with Drouin still young and developing while also being one of the most exciting young players in the league it could be beneficial for Tampa Bay if the return is worthy of Drouin’s talents.

It’s now been announced the the Lightning have suspended Drouin after he reportedly failed to show up for Syracuse’s game last night against the Toronto Marlies, and while there is reason (reportedly to avoid injury after Drouin and his agent requested he train with the team but not play while waiting for his impending trade out of Tampa Bay) this is where the issue comes.

Drouin’s agent Allen Walsh released a statement which TVA’s Renaud Lavoie tweeted out last night

Surely now Drouin is lessening not only his trade value but also interest in him. Here you have a fantastic prospect that should have teams really looking at what he could bring to their organisation and now the black mark on him is that he’s coming across as a bit of a diva.

It’s a lack of respect for the organisation that brought him into the league and could quite easily take him out, who’s to say that a trade actually occurs? Drouin could quite easily spend the rest of the season and then also the rest of next season in the minor leagues as he’s in the second year of his three-year entry level deal.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has already stated that he’ll act in the best interest of the team and if Drouin is damaging his reputation and putting off the other 29 NHL GM’s, then perhaps Yzerman and the Lightning trading him isn’t the best option for the team anymore, so perhaps this stunt doesn’t force a trade through quicker, essentially sends Drouin to the AHL for longer than he wanted.

It’s every hockey kids dream growing up to make it to the big league, getting there is one thing and staying there is another, which is why players always show respect when they get there because they know that it could all easily be taken away from them. So while Drouin is undeniably an NHL level talent and will be for many years, that doesn’t give him the right to avoid his duties to his team that include playing games for your assigned team. He’s down in the AHL right now, so while to some degree I respect the angle that he doesn’t want to pick up an injury that may postpone any trades until the off-season, injuries are a part of the game and the other thing that’s part of the game? Playing the game.

Instead now he’s suspended by the Lightning without pay which is only going to hurt him even more, but hopefully this is a wake up call to the kid, show up to your games, give Yzerman a reason to bring you back up or show another GM that you’re a can’t miss asset that is on the trade black right now. Besides, with the trade deadline coming up in a couple of weeks silly season is almost upon us, maybe you can be part of a trade by a desperate GM who doesn’t know what they’re doing and then ships out a guy like Filip Forsberg for Marty Erat and Michael Latta (I’m still bitter, but Latta has grown on me).

All Drouin has to do is play his game, stay out of the media, stay out of trouble and his move will come, he’s got so much upside to his game that it’d be a shame to see his ego ruin it for him.

Until he gets his move out of the Lightning organisation all that Drouin needs to do is keep playing the way he can and force GM’s to come knocking, with his behaviour last night he’s shooting himself in the foot.

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