Jonathan Drouin (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Most teams would love to land a promising young winger in the middle of his entry-level contract but prying Jonathan Drouin away from the Lightning won't be easy.
Recently-demoted Tampa Bay Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin declined to talk about his trade request when he spoke with the media on Tuesday. His silence on the matter, however, did nothing to quiet the speculation over his future with the Lightning.
Sportnet's Elliotte Friedman doesn't doubt Drouin will attract considerable interest around the league, but believes GM Steve Yzerman won't be pressured into making a hasty decision. If Yzerman is fielding trade offers, Friedman thinks the asking price could vary from team to team.
Should Drouin hit the trade block, Friedman speculates teams with young assets, like the Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and perhaps the Ottawa Senators, could be possible suitors.
TSN's Bob McKenzie also weighed in on the Drouin situation. He notes there are questions regarding Drouin's health and future with the Lightning that have to be addressed in the wake of the winger's trade request.
McKenzie also suggests it would be best for all involved if Yzerman can get a fair-value deal within the next seven-to-10 days. He feels Drouin's trade yield could be higher during that period than at the trade deadline or the NHL Draft in June.
However, there are a high number of teams with limited salary-cap space both this season and next. Most would love to land a promising young winger in the middle of his entry-level contract. Be it by mid-January, the trade deadline or at the draft, Drouin should fetch a solid return for the Bolts.
Prying Drouin away from the Lightning won't be easy. Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning told TSN 1040 he inquired about the Bolts winger, claiming the asking price was “really high.”
Friedman's colleague Damiex Cox notes Drouin is the third player to make a trade request this season. In November, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau reportedly listed the Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers as preferred trade destinations. It was also revealed New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic requested to be dealt last summer close to his Manitoba home for personal reasons.
Cox points out Marleau's and Hamonic's trade requests have yet to be honored. Marleau's high salary-cap hit ($6.6 million) and his limited trade destinations are why he's not moving. With Johnny Boychuk sidelined four-to-six weeks with a left-shoulder injury, Hamonic is now more important to the Isles' blueline.
If Yzerman trades Drouin, the pundits agree he must be careful. Some point out the poor return the Arizona Coyotes received in 2011 when they dealt Kyle Turris to the Ottawa Senators for blueliner David Rundblad and a second-round pick. Turris is now the Senators' top center, while Rundblad toils in Switzerland.
Drouin's situation, however, isn't comparable to Turris'. Drouin is in the second year of his entry-level contract, while the Coyotes were in a contract standoff with Turris. Yzerman can afford to take his time with Drouin.
Overshadowed by the Drouin story was a report from Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch claiming Blue Jackets winger Kerby Rychel also made a trade request before the start of this season. The Rychel camp was apparently upset that he was returning to the minors.
Portzline said the Rangers, Ducks, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings all expressed interest in the 21-year-old winger. The Jackets, however, refuse to part with Rychel, as he's averaging nearly a point-per-game in the minors this season.
Like Drouin, Rychel's also on an entry-level contract and has almost no leverage. GM Jarmo Kekalainen could peddle him toward the trade deadline. Having dealt Ryan Johansen to Nashville for defenseman Seth Jones, Kekalainen is likely to see how things shake out in the aftermath of this big move.
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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