On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning indefinitely suspended winger Jonathan Drouin, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, after he skipped out on an AHL game. It’s just the latest drama in a long-simmering conflict that involves Drouin, coach Jon Cooper, and Drouin’s agent, Allan Walsh.
The Lightning sent Drouin to the Syracuse Crunch on Jan. 2, and the next day, Walsh released a statement revealing that he had asked Tampa Bay to trade his client:
Drouin lost Cooper’s confidence somewhere toward the end of last year, and the 20-year-old was demoted and buried on the bench for much of the Lightning’s playoff run. That continued this year, with injuries and lack of ice time keeping Drouin from achieving (or working toward) the potential that most observers still see in him. The relationship between Drouin and Cooper is, by all accounts, not a good one.
Though the Lightning currently have no use for Drouin, and he’d make a big trade chip, they didn’t budge upon his trade demand. Drouin played for the Crunch until yesterday, when he was a no-show for Syracuse’s game against the Marlies. The Lightning immediately announced his suspension:
Once again, Walsh released an angry statement, saying that the Lightning had told him they were close to a trade involving Drouin. Walsh wanted to keep Drouin off the ice to preserve his health and his value, but Tampa Bay said no.
The Lightning have all the leverage. Drouin’s in the second year of his entry-level contract. In the unlikely event that the Lightning keep him but don’t call him up this season, this year wouldn’t count towards his next contract:
The team’s in second place in the Atlantic, and in no rush to make a trade. Drouin isn’t playing for anyone. This is the worst-case scenario for him.
H/t to Richard
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