A quiet NHL rumor mill received a significant jolt on Sunday, as the agent for Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin revealed his client made a trade request in November.
Allan Walsh, who represents the 20-year-old Drouin, released a statement not only revealing the request, but also imploring Lightning management to deal the winger to another NHL club for the good of everyone involved. Walsh's remarks came shortly after Drouin's demotion on Saturday to the Syracuse Crunch.
Despite Drouin's promising skills, he's yet to establish himself at the NHL level. But his potential for stardom could still attract considerable interest around the league.
The Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith reports the Lightning need a right-handed shot on their blueline, preferably someone who can anchor their power play. He lists the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators, Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues as potential suitors. He notes the Predators are loaded with defensive depth, while Lightning management scouted several recent Blues games.
USA Today's Jimmy Hascup includes the Leafs and Predators in his list of possible trade partners, along with the Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets. SI.com's Allan Muir includes the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers among his list of possibilities.
The Anaheim Ducks and Carolina Hurricanes could also have some interest. Both teams are in need of offensive depth and can draw upon depth in defensemen to make a pitch for Drouin.
New York Post columnist Larry Brooks cites sources claiming Rangers GM Jeff Gorton spoke with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman about Drouin prior to the latter's demotion. Brooks suggests defenseman Keith Yandle could be a trade chip, as the Blueshirts cannot afford to re-sign the pending UFA.
While speculation is bound to run rampant in the coming days, Yzerman's potential asking price and the Lightning's cap space could be crucial factors if Drouin is indeed to be dealt. NHL.com's Joe Yerdon suggests it could be a roster player and a non-first round pick.
With Drouin's demotion, the Lightning currently have just over $2 million in cap space for this season. Unless they can shed salary in a Drouin trade or a separate deal, they cannot afford to take back an expensive player, particularly one with term on his contract. Doing so could affect efforts to re-sign notable free agents like Steven Stamkos, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov this year, as well as Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Ben Bishop and Victor Hedman in 2017.
With Drouin now in the minors, Yzerman doesn't have to rush into making a trade. If he doesn't see an offer he likes before the Feb. 29 trade deadline, he can simply wait until the off-season to field offers. He can also use the time to mend fences with the disgruntled youngster in hopes of keeping him in the fold.
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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