By Mike Laybourne
2015/16 was a season to forget for Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin. Having been assigned to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch early in January 2016, Drouin’s agent confirmed that the young winger had requested a trade due to his position being ‘untenable’. It looked like he wouldn’t play another game for the Bolts.
Fortunately the situation was resolved and by March 8th Drouin was back with the Crunch. He was back in Tampa Bay a month later. Drouin scored 5 goals and 9 assists in the Lightning’s playoff campaign, including a game winner against the New York Islanders.
This season the Lightning have failed to reach the heady heights of 2015/16 and while it’s mathematically possible for the team to make the playoffs, it’s gonna be a struggle.
This season Drouin is living up to the potential Bolts fans always believed he had. With 36 points in 51 games, Drouin is the team’s fourth highest point scorer. His 17 goals have tied him with Tyler Johnson for second behind Nikita Kucherov’s 23. His behaviour on the ice is also impressive, just 14 penalty minutes. This is especially handy considering the Lightning’s penalty kill is a somewhat worrying 80.9%, 18th worst in the league.
The Bolts are a team struggling with absence, and Drouin has missed a few games. While injuries and sickness are a big concern for the Lightning, and will likely be the deciding factor in the playoff race; Drouin’s individual performances on the ice are impressing fans and teammates.
The 2013 third overall pick seems to have put his troubles behind him and has gone from suspended trade piece to indispensable playmaker. The success of the Lightning’s left wing owes a lot to the 21 year old and the team would do well to lock up Drouin, he becomes a restricted free agent next season and considering a lot of teams were interested last year during his troubled period, a lot more will be interested moving forward.
I for one would like to see Drouin playing for my Red Wings, we’d have to move some people around though. Detroit barely has the cap space for a box of pucks, never mind a top line winger. His 55.6% Corsi For is better than all the Wing’s current forwards. I can dream. Wherever Drouin goes, he’s definitely going to be a key asset moving forward. Chances are he’ll stay in Tampa Bay.
Are you glad to see Drouin playing well? Do you want to see him in your team’s colors? Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter.