Jonathan Drouin Trade Rumors: Has The Market Soured In Drouin’s Absence?

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

It has been 21 days since Jonathan Drouin made his way onto the ice as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Has the trade market soured in his absence?

There has been a serious disturbance in the force here in the Bolts Nation. The initial disturbance was unwittingly kicked into motion on January 2nd when Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman elected to assign Jonathan Drouin to the Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, on a conditioning stint.

As most of you know by now, Jonathan Drouin had been forced to miss quite a few games early on in the season thanks to a nagging injury. Sending Drouin to the Syracuse Crunch made perfect sense. It would not be the first time a player has found themselves in a situation like this.

It’s pretty common practice for a team to send a player to their AHL affiliate to play a few games before bringing them back to the main roster in an effort to allow the player to shake off the rust they accumulated by sitting the bench and making sure they are in tip-top shape before making their way back to the big game.

Unfortunately, in a matter of 24 hours, things here in the Bolts Nation went from calm to full-blown chaos when Jonathan Drouin made a public announcement via his agent Allan Walsh stating he had requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning back in November. A trade that quite clearly had not been honored as of yet.

The thing Drouin and his camp failed to realize is that a request is just that…a request. Despite whether or not a player decides they no longer wish to honor their contract with a team (no matter what the reason) the decision to grant said request lands squarely in the hands of the team’s General Manager. In the case of the Tampa Bay Lightning, that person would be Steve Yzerman.

The next day, which brings us to January 4th, it was announced Jonathan Drouin would address the media the next day when he arrived in Syracuse to report for his conditioning stint. Unfortunately, when Drouin finally met with the media, he absolutely refused to answer any questions having to do with his trade request. This move was almost like throwing napalm on an already burning fire.

Related Story: Drouin's Agent Makes Statement In Wake Of Suspension

On the bright side, it seemed as if Jonathan Drouin had committed himself to working on his conditioning and proving to Yzerman and the rest of the world that not only did he deserve to be here in the Bolts Nation, but that he genuinely wanted to remain a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Unfortunately, after playing just seven games with the Crunch, Drouin decided he had enough and refused to report for the Syracuse Crunch’s game against the Toronto Marlies on January 20th. As you can imagine, this is in direct violation of Drouin’s contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Steve Yzerman was left with no other option but to suspend Drouin indefinitely without pay until he could find a solution to the situation viable for both sides.

Here we are 21 days later and Drouin has still not played another game for the Tampa Bay Lightning, or the Syracuse Crunch for that matter. While the remainder of the hockey world, both in the NHL and the AHL, keeps on moving forward, Jonathan Drouin is stuck at home waiting for the phone to ring to be notified a trade has been completed and find out where he will be continuing his journey.

The bad news is, it has been almost a month and no one has heard a peep from either side of the clearly marked battle lines. There is no denying that this does not exactly bode well for the 20-year-old forward.

When the trade request was first announced, there were a plethora of teams expressing interest in acquiring Jonathan Drouin in an effort to strengthen their core and potentially make the most out of the young rookie’s playmaking skills. Unfortunately for Drouin, as time continues to drag on, the list of teams vying for the young forward’s contract has decreased dramatically.

If we had to venture a guess as to what sparked the downtrend in interested parties, it would be the moment he decided to take his skates and go home. In a sport like hockey, where players lace up their skates night in and night out, sometimes nursing injuries that would hold a lesser athlete back, Jonathan Drouin sits at home because he doesn’t want to “risk facing an injury” as a trade is orchestrated.

Related Story: Drouin Continues To Prove What We Suspected All Along

When you look at things from the perspective of a general manager, this is just bad business. While there is no denying that Jonathan Drouin has the potential to be one of the top stars in the National Hockey League at some point in his young career, you would have to suspect that there is that little voice in the back of a General Manager’s head that would wonder whether or not he would pull the same kind of stunt on them at some point.

We are just a matter of weeks away from the NHL Trade Deadline. If Yzerman hasn’t found an acceptable offer for Drouin by that point, it seems as if he will spend the remainder of this year sitting the bench. While there is always the chance he could come and play for the Tampa Bay Lightning or Syracuse Crunch, the likelihood of this happening is essentially next to nothing.

This assertion comes from a statement made by Drouin’s agent following his suspension for not reporting for his scheduled game. Walsh was pretty cut and dry when he said his player saw no reason to return to his soon-to-be former team.

"“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.”"

At this point, it is unclear what kind of plans, if any, Yzerman has heading into the trade deadline. According to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, Yzerman believes in his team, but has left the door open should the right deal present itself.

"“I believe we have a good team,” Yzerman said. “I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘We’re going to really go out and try to do something.’ But if an opportunity is there, we’ll certainly try to do it.” ~ via Joe Smith/Tampa Bay Times"

Certainly, Jonathan Drouin makes for excellent trade bait should the right opportunity comes along. Unfortunately, there is only one person who knows the fate of Jonathan Drouin’s young career at this particular moment and that person is Steve Yzerman. The way the system is set up, Yzerman holds all the cards.

As we mentioned before, the NHL Trade Deadline is quickly approaching. If a deal is to be made before the deadline, Tampa Bay Lightning fans and Jonathan Drouin’s supporters won’t have long to wait before the bigger picture becomes much clearer.

Do you think Jonathan Drouin’s extended absence from the ice has diminished his value on the trade market? Do you think Yzerman will find the right deal for Drouin prior to the NHL Trade Deadline? If so, what team do you see Jonathan Drouin making his new home in? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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