Will Steve Yzerman Trade Jonathan Drouin By The Trade Deadline?

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Will Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman be able to make a deal for estranged Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin before the NHL Trade Deadline?

The Tampa Bay Lightning has been on quite the rollercoaster ride this season. Between the string of injuries early on in the season to the team’s special teams issues and even the drama surrounding the current contract status of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. Despite all the chaos, there is one thing that seemed to blindside the Bolts Nation; the absolute anarchy that has been the Jonathan Drouin saga.

As most of you know by now, all the chaos started on January 2nd when the young Lightning forward was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch for a conditioning assignment. The very next day, the twenty-year-old winger released a statement via his agent Allan Walsh that he had requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning all the way back in November. This is where the firestorm started on both sides of the ice.

The next day, which now brings us to January 4th, it was announced that Jonathan Drouin would be addressing the media the following day when he made his way to Syracuse to join the Crunch. As you can imagine, everyone was interested in what he had to say about the current situation. Unfortunately, Drouin had no intention of actually discussing the one topic everyone wanted to hear about.

Despite declining to speak about the recent firestorm surrounding his contract situation, it started to look as if this story may have a happy ending after all. Jonathan Drouin reported to the Syracuse Crunch as requested and even started dressing for their games, the first of which was on January 8th against the Albany Devils. In his first encounter with the Crunch, Drouin would score two goals in his very first period.

In the six games that would follow this one, Drouin would register an assist. Unfortunately, this would be the end of Jonathan Drouin’s production on the ice. This is the moment things went from bad to nuclear for the troubled Lightning forward. On January 20th, as the Syracuse Crunch were preparing to take on the Toronto Marlies, Jonathan Drouin decided he’d waiting long enough and decided to take his skates and go home.

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

Obviously, this is a clear breach of contract between Drouin and the Tampa Bay Lightning. When you sign a contract with a professional sports team, it is fairly reasonable to expect said player to actually…I don’t know…play. As a result of Drouin’s decision, Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman had no other choice than to suspend Jonathan Drouin indefinitely without pay until an agreement could be reached between both sides.

Now, we find ourselves a matter of days away from the NHL Trade Deadline and Jonathan Drouin is still sitting on his couch somewhere in Canada waiting for the phone to ring and the voice on the line to tell him he has been traded to another team and he can once again begin his rookie season here in the NHL. The question looming in the front of everyone’s minds is whether or not Yzerman will be able to trade Drouin by the deadline.

While he would not box himself into a corner and nail down a specific timeframe for a trade to be completed, when Steve Yzerman spoke to the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday, February 24th, he was pretty clear he would rather have a solution in place “sooner than later.”

"“I definitely prefer to deal him sooner than later, it would be better for everyone,” Yzerman said. “A lot of things factor into it when making the trade, a lot of things to consider here. But number one is, ‘Can I do something involving Jonathan that benefits the team that makes us better right now that helps us for the playoffs? I’d certainly like to do that.” ~ Joe Smith/Tampa Bay Times"

Despite the lack of ice time Jonathan Drouin has had lately, and the obvious connotation of a troublemaker he will undoubtedly be branded with as a result of the most recent drama, there are still a number of teams interested in acquiring the young forward.

Let’s be honest here for a moment. Despite what some fans may think about his attitude, his decision-making skills, his definition of the meaning of a contract, and his ultimate theories on teamwork, he does have a ton of potential to be a breakout star. After all, Steve Yzerman had to have seen some potential in Drouin in order to use his third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, right?

Unfortunately, the possibility of him remaining with the Tampa Bay Lightning was all but shut down when Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh released another statement on behalf of his client in regards to his suspension and plans going forward.

"“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.” ~ Joe Smith/Tampa Bay Times"

There have been rumors coming left and right about a plethora of teams who would be more than happy to have the Canadian winger on their roster. Speaking of Canada, there are plenty of Canadian teams who could really make use of a player like Jonathan Drouin. As most people know by now, the Montreal Canadiens have been on a hell of a skid lately, going 29-27-5 so far this season after a rather promising 9-0 start to the season.

Another Canadian team in desperate need of a shakeup is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs are dead last in the Eastern Conference, going 20-28-10 so far this season. Since July 1st when they traded former Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel, the Maple Leafs having what some would view as a fire sale in an effort to resuscitate their slowly dying on-ice life.

The options are, indeed, out there. At the same time, Steve Yzerman is under no requirement or official timeframe to make a deal happen. As general manager of the Lightning, it is Steve Yzerman’s job to make sure when and if a deal is put into black and white, that it is one that is beneficial not only to Drouin but the Tampa Bay Lightning organization as well.

Related Story: Jonathan Drouin Could Learn A Lot From John Scott

Right now, Jonathan Drouin is under contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning until the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. At that point, Drouin becomes a Restricted Free Agent. For those of you who don’t know, this means that the cards are essentially in the hands of Yzerman as to what direction Drouin’s career takes.

The NHL Trade Deadline is only a matter of days away. If there is a deal to be done, we are sure we will hear something before the February 29th deadline. One could safely assume that Yzerman wouldn’t want something like this following the Tampa Bay Lightning into any sort of a playoff run they may have this season. If not, one would have to think a deal would be completed at some point before the start of the 2016-17.

At this point and time, the only one who has the real answers to all of our burning questions is Steve Yzerman. If we were to assume things would proceed as any other trade, we probably won’t hear many details until both sides have signed on the bottom line and the deal is already in place.

Next: Jonathan Drouin Remains Silent on Trade Request

The NHL Trade Deadline is just four days away. Do you think Yzerman has a plan in play to trade Jonathan Drouin to a new team? If so, what team do you think is at the top of the line to receive the Lightning winger? Let us know what you think in the comments below.