On Sunday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that 2013 third overall draft pick Jonathan Drouin had requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The news came after he had been sent down to the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.
A statement from Jonathan Drouin's agent Allan Walsh regarding his client's future in TB: pic.twitter.com/Vhwet1IpTW
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 3, 2016
After the statement went public, speculation ran wild on where Drouin could end up, if the Lightning honor his request. Naturally, the Nashville Predators entered the discussion, given their recent offensive struggles. Some thought he might make a nice addition to their forward units, given that Drouin was picked one slot ahead of Predators defenseman Seth Jones in that 2013 draft.
However, that’s not the move the Predators need to make at this time, for multiple reasons.
First, just because he was a top-three draft pick doesn’t mean he’s actually going to live up to his potential. In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Halifax Mooseheads, Drouin put up astronomical numbers to the tune of 108 points in 46 games. That led many to believe that he could be a solid NHL player. But, his first full professional season was not so successful. He finished with 32 points in 70 games, and only four of those points were goals. Even while the players picked around him in 2013, Nathan Mackinnon, Aleksander Barkov and Seth Jones, are enjoying NHL success, Drouin has yet to find his groove at the top level.
This season, he has been better, but not by much. With eight points in 19 games played, he looks to keep improving, but at this point in his development, his ceiling might be closer than it appears. If the Predators were to acquire him, he would likely stick as a third-line left wing. While the Predators do need more scorers, a third-line winger is the furthest thing from their biggest positional need.
Second, the Lightning’s asking price would be way too high for the Predators to pay. Drouin still carries with him that “third overall pick” label, regardless of his performance, so the Lightning can raise the price on him. If general manager David Poile inquires about Drouin, he might be asked to give up an NHL roster player like Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Viktor Arvidsson, or maybe even some combination of players. He might also be asked to trade away a touted prospect like Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Kamenev, or Yakov Trenin, or perhaps a high draft pick, which he probably does not want to do, and should not do.
If Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman decides to let Drouin go for a low draft pick and/or a low-level prospect, then the Predators might be able to acquire him for a good deal. However, as long as the asking price is up, Poile should stay away from the phones.
Finally, the Predators would be better off saving resources for a potential move for that coveted first-line center to play alongside the likes of James Neal and Filip Forsberg. That is very clearly their biggest positional need, and they need every potential asset still there to make that type of deal. It’s unclear if that type of deal will come across Poile’s desk, but in the event that it does, it may come back to bite him if he dealt Fiala and a second round pick for Drouin.
Drouin could very well be a solid player, and may provide a spark on the bottom six for the Predators. However, considering what they might have to give up to get him, a deal for him seems unnecessary at this time.
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua