Tampa Bay Lightning: Jonathan Drouin Continues To Prove What We Suspected All Along


Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin may be a very talented player, but his recent actions prove exactly why he will soon find himself out of Tampa Bay for good.

When the Tampa Bay Lightning selected forward Jonathan Drouin with the third overall pick of the 2014 NHL draft, all of Lightning nation, including myself, jumped for joy. While scouting the former Halifax Moosehead star, you could tell Drouin had the speed, vision, and pure skill to one day take the National Hockey League by storm. However, what you cannot take into account by pure film study is the pure nature of the human being himself.

When Jonathan Drouin first arrived in Tampa Bay, the team held their annual prospect development camp at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, Florida. All of the team’s prospects made the trip to the camp in order to show how much they have improved from the previous year or as a new draft pick, show management what they have in a prospect. Jonathan Drouin made the trip for the event and Lightning fans were ecstatic to see what could be a future superstar in the NHL. While he showed superstar status on the ice, his attitude off the ice worried me and those around me.

One of the perks that comes along with being a Tampa Bay Lightning fan is the ability to watch the team’s prospects up close and interacting with them as they come off the ice and eventually leave camp for the day. Many of the team’ prospects, including Tanner Richard and Dylan Blujus, really took advantage of the opportunity to interact with the fans while also focusing on the work they had later in the day. However, Drouin was one of those players that really didn’t seem to enjoy interacting with the fans.

At one point, being the super prospect and known name he was, Drouin was placed in a situation where many fans wanted a simple picture or maybe an autograph. For most players, though maybe not of the same status popularity wise as Drouin, this was a time to enjoy being with the fans and having some fun after a hard day at the office. However, Drouin was not really in that mindset. He had a set number of photos he would take, with a smile that was very fake (trust me, you should see my picture with him) and a very touchy attitude when interacting with fans.

I get it, not every player is very social with fans and just wants to take care of their own business. However, as a top pick and popular name, sometimes you have to put your ego aside and  really focus on what makes being an NHL player great; becoming a role model for the next generation and beginning your NHL career on a good note. Instead, he did the opposite and combined with a reassignment to the Mooseheads for another season to get stronger and improve his defensive game, the ball just started going downhill.

Flash forward two years later, and Jonathan Drouin has requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Drouin no longer wants to be apart of this organization and feels like his services can be better used elsewhere. After being a healthy scratch for numerous games and playing bottom-six minutes for a majority of his time in the NHL, Drouin and his agent felt like enough was enough. Both felt like it was best for Drouin’s career that he be moved on to another team so that he may demonstrate his abilities.

Requesting a trade at 20-years-old with two-years left on an entry-level contract is not something you hear very often. A player with 40 points in 89 career NHL games wants out. Again, I don’t get it, but if that’s what he wants, has the right to request the move. However, this did not mean General Manager Steve Yzerman necessarily had to honor the request. A talented prospect with two-years left of team control on a club friendly deal is something you really don’t want to give up, and Yzerman’s asking price for Drouin has been very high from the beginning and will remain that way until he gets what he wants.

During this time, Drouin was sent down to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Syracuse in order to get playing time after coming back from injury. It was not a swipe at Drouin, but instead a way for the club to get their talented prospect minutes as he comes back from injury. He has played seven games with the Crunch so far, scoring two goals (both in his first game) and one assist over that time. Trade rumors continued to swirl as Lightning began to start playing well and Drouin continued to play with the Crunch. Then, Drouin made a move that changed his perception to fans in Tampa Bay and around the league for good.

Related: Three Destinations To Trade Jonathan Drouin 

The Syracuse Crunch had a game against the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday night, and reports began to come out that Drouin was not in the lineup for the game. Was he being held out as a precaution as a potential deal was coming together or a possible injury that popped up during his time with the Crunch? Neither. Drouin decided to take the process into his own hands and sit out of tonight’s game, forcing the Lightning to suspend him indefinitely without pay. 

Drouin’s agent, Allen Walsh, made a statement as to why the decision to hold Drouin out of the game was made, courtesy of Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

“When the Tampa Bay Lightning assigned Jonathan Drouin to Syracuse it was explained the purpose of the assignment was twofold; (1) conditioning due to missed games from injury and (2) provide proof that he had completely recovered from his injury. Jonathan has now played seven games with Syracuse in the past (14) days.

A few days ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning advised that a trade involving Jonathan was moving closer to completion.  We proposed to Tampa that Jonathan not play in the next few AHL games but continue practicing with the club to avoid any potential injury from preventing an imminent trade. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning refused this reasonable request, however, Jonathan was not willing to accept this risk. We have been advised that the Tampa Bay Lightning has suspended Jonathan.

In light of the latest developments it is clearly in both sides best interests that the Tampa Bay Lightning trade Jonathan as there is no reason for Jonathan to continue with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization in any capacity. We will have no further comment as we await the Tampa Bay Lightning to conclude a trade that involves Jonathan.”

Wow. Unbelievable. If Walsh and/or Drouin really think this is going to help their cause on a trade, they are dead wrong. If anything, this might even slow the processes as to which Drouin could be shipped out of Tampa Bay for good.

Think about it, who wants a player that basically quits on their team? What is best for Drouin’s career is to continue playing hockey and get better, because there is plenty he can improve on. Instead, he doesn’t want to take a the ‘risk’ and play while the process continues. In theory, Drouin’s decision to sit out could act just like an injury in terms of a stopgap to a potential deal. Even with all of the skill that he possesses, there is no doubt that there are now some red flags raised whenever his name is brought up.

As for his agent’s ‘advice’, all Drouin will be doing in this case is sitting out from the game that he loves, lose money, and further hurting a reputation that was already damaged after the trade request that went public. If he thinks this move speeds up the process, he’s wrong. Enjoy losing game checks and the chance of being moved.

Now, Mr. Yzerman, I hope you are on the same page with me as the process continues. Sit on it. Do not move him and wait for the right offer. You have the rest of this season and till the trade deadline next season to move him. Let Drouin rot and enjoy collecting empty game checks as a punishment for a dumb decision.

I no longer consider Jonathan Drouin a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had his chance to go through the process like teammates before him (Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, etc.) but instead, he let his ego get the best of him and continues to make decisions that reflect upon him negatively. Though he is still under contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, his decision making and attitude has made it so he doesn’t want to be apart of this great organization anymore, and we don’t want him here anymore either.