Teams are lining up to express interest in Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin, and GM Steve Yzerman is listening to offers but knows what he wants in return.
A week after his trade request, Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin remains the hot topic in the NHL rumor mill. Appearing on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he’s prepared to trade the 20-year-old winger, but only if it’s a deal that helps his club. Yzerman added it’s important to receive equal value, “and you can measure that in a lot of different ways.”
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Lightning want a player of comparable value. The St. Louis Blues, who were reported to be heavily scouted by the Bolts, are thought to be interested in Drouin. Friedman speculates the asking price could be promising rookie center Robby Fabbri.
Friedman’s colleague Mike Johnston lists the Blues, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche as seven teams he feels are in a position to make a pitch for Drouin.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claims several Eastern Conference clubs, including the Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins, contacted Yzerman expressing interest. However, the Lightning GM reportedly prefers to send Drouin to a Western Conference club. Garrioch cites the Blues, Ducks, Flames and Canucks as Western clubs in need of help on their forward lines.
Eric Stephens of The Orange County Register wonders if the Ducks could pursue Drouin. It’s believed the Lightning seek a right-handed defenseman to anchor their power-play and the Ducks have blueline depth to use as trade bait.
Stephens suggested Sami Vatanen, who’s a restricted free agent this summer, as an option. He carries a $1.2-million salary this season, making him an affordable fit for the Bolts this season. However, he’ll be due a substantial raise this summer. If the Lightning intend to re-sign free agents like Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn, finding long-term cap room for Virtanen could be a problem.
The Lightning’s blueline needs could put the Canadiens out of the picture. Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette observes the Habs don’t have any to spare, plus there’s also the question of how Drouin would handle the pressure of playing in Montreal.
Terry Frei of The Denver Post believes “it’s not outlandish” to suggest the Avalanche could be interested in Drouin. He points out that Avs bench boss Patrick Roy was coach of the Quebec Remparts when Drouin was starring with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL.
Return, however, is a problem. If Yzerman prefers a skilled blueliner over a young forward for Drouin, the Avs don’t have any to spare. Tyson Barrie is a restricted free agent this summer, but it’s believed they hope to re-sign him.
Drouin could be a good fit with rebuilding teams like the Sabres, Maple Leafs, Flames or Canucks, where he’ll get considerably more playing time than in Tampa Bay. However, it could cost each club one of their own promising young forwards.
Yzerman still holds all the cards in this situation. He can take his time fielding offers for Drouin, who’s signed through 2016-17 on an entry-level deal. As he made clear, he’ll make a move that’s in the best interest of the Lightning. That deal could come this week, next week, at the trade deadline or in the off-season.
BLUES STILL SHOPPING SHATTENKIRK
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has resurfaced in trade rumor chatter. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Blues will get plenty of calls about the 26-year-old, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agency.
He claims Shattenkirk was mentioned in the Jonathan Drouin rumors, but his $4.25-million cap hit through 2016-17 would be difficult for the Lightning to absorb. There’s talk the Blues offered up Shattenkirk to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Ryan Johansen prior to the center’s trade last week to the Nashville Predators for Seth Jones.
If the Blues are shopping Shattenkirk, the Johansen rumor suggests they’re seeking an established young forward who can help them now and in the future. If so, that could put them out of the Drouin sweepstakes. With Jay Bouwmeester recently sidelined by an upper-body injury, the Blues probably aren’t in a hurry to move Shattenkirk.
Speaking of notable defensemen garnering attention in the rumor mill, the status of New York Rangers rearguard Keith Yandle continues to attract interest. Sportsnet’s Damien Cox claims the 29-year-old isn’t expected to re-sign with the Blueshirts before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. He’s eligible for UFA status in July.
With the Rangers still struggling to snap out of their recent swoon, the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis believes Yandle is their best trade chip. Carrying an affordable $2.625-million cap hit (with the other half of his $5.25 million picked up by the Arizona Coyotes), Yandle could prove enticing to clubs seeking a skilled puck-moving blueliner.
Yandle was recently suggested as a possible return for Drouin. While the Rangers are believed pursuing the youngster, the Bolts won’t part with him for a player who could depart via free agency this summer.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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