Tampa Bay Lightning Assign Jonathan Drouin To Syracuse Crunch

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today that Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin has been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch.

As most fans here in the Bolts Nation are painfully aware by now, the Tampa Bay Lightning has experienced plenty of hard times this season when it comes to player injuries. Making matters worse, it seems to have taken a serious toll on the Lightning’s offensive core.

This has caused Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper to make some incredibly difficult decisions when it comes to shaking up the lineup and filling the holes with some of the best young talent from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. As the main roster players begin to return from their injuries, the Lightning has to decide who remains and who goes back to Syracuse.

One of those very same decisions has been made today. One that has many people here in the Bolts Nation talking. Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced via the Lightning’s official site that Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin has been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch.

Jonathan Drouin has struggled in many areas this season, one of which has been staying healthy. Drouin has been forced to miss multiple games on two occasions this season. Before making his return to the Lightning lineup in Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, Drouin had already missed a total of 13 games this season.

According to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, Yzerman stated this is more of a conditioning assignment for Drouin, who after missing multiple games needs some time to perfect his game.

"“Jonathan has played in nine games in the last nine weeks,” Yzerman told Smith. “He’s been dealing with a minor nagging issue that is finally healed. With everyone coming back at the same time, it’s a good opportunity to get a young player a lot of ice time, get his game right back on top and bring him back at the appropriate time.”"

While no one within the Tampa Bay Lightning organization will say this directly, it is pretty clear what is happening here. After missing as many games as Drouin has this season, he has quite a bit of rust to shake off. This is not speculation, it is unfortunate fact. In the 19 games he’s played this season, Drouin has scored two goals and six assists for a total of eight points.

At the same time, Jonathan Marchessault, who is playing his first real season in the National Hockey League, has played in just two more games than Drouin has this season, has brought home six goals and five assists for a total of 11 points. In the time he’s been here, Marchessault has left everything out on the ice, showing that he not only wants to play on the Lightning’s main roster, but that he deserves to be here as well.

The glaring difference between Drouin and Marchessault is that Marchessault would have to clear waivers in order to be reassigned to Syracuse. This would open the door for any other team in the National Hockey League to snatch up this incredibly talented young player without giving anything in return to the Bolts. The same thing cannot be said about Jonathan Drouin.

Don’t get us wrong, we believe that Drouin has amazing talent and could develop into one of the best playmakers the Tampa Bay Lightning has seen in the last couple of years; however, with his recent string of nagging injuries and his lack of production in the games he’s played so far this season, Drouin needs to be given an opportunity to get back on the ice and condition himself.

After looking at the bigger picture, it seems Steve Yzerman feels much the same way and wants to give Drouin the best possible scenario in which he can achieve success in the National Hockey League.

"“We take everything into account,” Yzerman told Smith. “But we have reason for doing it and I believe in the reasons for doing it. Jonathan expressed to me he understands the reasons for it. So again, we want our players to succeed and we want them to play well and put t hem in best position to succeed. And I believe this helps that.”"

This is not the first time we have seen the team do something of this manner, and it more than likely will not be the last. Just recently, Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been recalled from the Syracuse Crunch after doing a short conditioning stint to shake off some of the rust he accumulated after missing all that time due to vascular surgery.

Judging by what we have heard thus far, there are more than a few reasons behind the decision to send Drouin to Syracuse, but the biggest of those reasons seems to be conditioning. While we have many ideas on the situation at hand, at the point we’ve chosen not to speculate without any confirmation whatsoever from the team.

It is unknown at this point how long he will be in Syracuse or if/when he will make his return to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup, but it will certainly be interesting to see how Drouin responds performance-wise and what he’ll do in order to make his way back.

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