Who’s Going to Land Jonathan Drouin?

It is all but certain that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin will be traded before the 2016 trade deadline.  In fact, he could be traded any minute now.  The Lightning have been actively shopping the former third overall draft pick ever since he was sent down to Syracuse of the AHL in early January.  Drouin has been courted by as many as ten NHL teams, but Tampa Bay’s high asking price has forced many teams to withdraw from the race.  As of today, the front-runner to acquire Drouin appears to be the St. Louis Blues, with the Montreal Canadiens right behind them.

Jonathan Drouin is a 20-year-old forward with the potential to become one of the best players in the NHL.  Why would Tampa want to trade him?  Because he has vastly underperformed in Tampa Bay, has not been able to crack the everyday lineup, and requested a trade in November.  There is no doubt Drouin is a talented player, but he has been unable to play well enough defensively, or with enough toughness, to stay in Tampa Bay’s lineup.  This led to his demotion to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL.  Drouin appears to uninterested in playing in the AHL and fully believes he is NHL ready right now.  Tampa Bay disagrees, and that is why they are actively trying to trade him to another team.

Teams around the NHL seem to think that adding Drouin can help them right now, as well as for years to come.  The right now part of that is a bit of a question mark.  Drouin only scored four goals in 70 games last season, and this year just two in 19 games.  While Drouin’s potential is through the roof, he has yet to prove that he belongs in the NHL right now.  In fact, I believe Drouin has done more to prove that he is not NHL ready than prove he is.  Despite the questions that remain, teams around the NHL have shown great interest in Drouin, and whoever acquires him will pay a hefty price.  It has been reported that Tampa Bay wants an established NHL player and a blue chip prospect, and maybe even more in return for Drouin.  One thing is for sure, however, this Drouin deal goes down, it will be a franchise changing for both the Lightning and other team involved.

So, who is going to end up with Jonathan Drouin?  Right now it appears the answer is the St. Louis Blues.  The Blues certainly have the pieces to trade for Drouin.  Kevin Shattenkirk and Robby Fabbri are a few names floating around that could head to Tampa in return for Drouin.  The other team heavily involved is the Montreal Canadiens.  A deal with Montreal would likely have Alex Galchenyuk, along with other pieces, going the other way.  The sweepstakes seem to be down to those two teams, but I still believe the Minnesota Wild and/or Calgary Flames could jump back into the race.  Calgary is loaded on the back end, and could easily trade a defenseman to Tampa Bay along with a prospect for Drouin.  Minnesota also has chips to play with, both up front and on defense.  Jonas Brodin would likely be the Wild moving to Tampa Bay in return for Drouin.

At this point, it is still unclear where Jonathan Drouin will end up, but it is almost certain that he is going somewhere.  All signs at the moment point to St. Louis, but this is the NHL and things can change in a matter of minutes.  Montreal, Minnesota, and Calgary all still have a chance if they put the right deal on the table.  No matter where Drouin goes, he will change the franchise forever, either in a good way, or a really bad way.  As far as NHL trades go, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Written By: Jonathan Duncan

Communication major at Worcester State University in MA. Massachusetts born and raised.

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