Jonathan Drouin’s career-high goal total is four, but if his first six games this season are any indication, the Tampa Bay Lightning winger is going to absolutely smash that mark in 2016-17.
Drouin, 21, has scored four goals in each of the past two seasons, reaching the mark in 70 games in 2014-15 and 21 games in 2015-16, but through only a handful of games in the new campaign, he’s already halfway to his previous career high and scoring at a 27-goal pace. Given the shot he pumped past Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen Tuesday night, though, pegging Drouin for 27 goals seems low.
With four minutes left in the Lightning’s romp of the Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay on a power play, Drouin came down the right wing with two potential passing options and Matt Hunwick as the lone Toronto defender. In most instances, one might expect Drouin, most noted for his playmaking skills, to move the puck, but after looking off his two options, Drouin pulled back and unleashed a cannon of a slapshot over Andersen’s left shoulder:
It doesn’t matter who was in goal because that looked as though it would have beaten any goaltender. It’s the look off before the slapshot that really makes it so hard to stop.
That Drouin is scoring in such spectacular fashion shouldn’t really come as a surprise, though, because both of his goals this season have been eye-popping. His first goal of the season, scored during the season-opener against the Detroit Red Wings, came on a dart of a wrist shot that found the only daylight available.
It’s not just that Drouin is finding the back of the net, though. Through six games, he has now registered five points and is taking on a steady second-line role for the Lightning. His current scoring pace has him primed for a near 70-point season, which would see him more than double up his previous career-best of 32. Suffice to say the Lightning are probably quite pleased they were able to keep Drouin around.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Get 10 issues of The Hockey News magazine for just $15.99!