by Ray Kuhn
It has been one heck of a season for Jonathan Drouin, filled with drama. Despite how talented he is the Tampa Bay Lightning have not gotten nearly the value they expected from their 20-year old winger. That is slated to change though. Where this ultimately leads is still left to be determined, but Tampa Bay needs Drouin and for the benefit of his future Drouin needs to put what has already transpired this season behind him.
With Steven Stamkos sidelined for the foreseeable future, and potentially leaving as a free agent at the end of the season, the time is now for Drouin to step up.
Tampa Bay has just one regular season game left after Thursday, and entering action they were in second place in the Atlantic Division with 95 points. This is a critical postseason and they need the offense that Drouin is capable of. He proved it as he scored a third period goal on Thursday night in his return.
So far, through 19 NHL games, Drouin has shown flashes of productivity but managed just two goals and eight assists. His performance in the AHL, when he was actually on the ice, met his level of talent. In 17 games he netted 11 goals and added 13 assists. The issue is that he was not on the ice from January 20 through March 7.
Drouin was not happy with his role and refused to report to the AHL and therefore was suspended. He was also suspended one game two weeks after missing a team meeting. At this point it is simple, Drouin is talented and the Lightning need him. He is critical to their playoff success and that is all they care about (click here for the article).
“Jo Drouin earned this callup,” coach Jon Cooper said. (The trade request) is what he felt he had to do. He’s a big part of the Tampa Bay Lightning and a big part of us. Do players look at him differently in the room? Not at all. Do coaches look at him (differently)? No. He had a belief in something and he stood by his ground. Can’t say anything is wrong with that. I do know he’s come back to help us win. And you talk to the coaches and everyone down in Syracuse, and he was phenomenal down there. That’s what you want. You want the kids that want to play and he’s clearly proven, especially in the last month and a half that he wants to be a hockey player, and can’t ask any more than that.
“We need him.”
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