Friedman: Some teams backing off on Drouin trade talks

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman talks about the trade of disgruntled player Jonathan Drouin.

Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning were already in a sticky situation when a November trade request from Jonathan Drouin went public earlier this month.

Their predicament was made worse earlier this week when the team suspended Drouin indefinitely without pay for failing to report for an AHL game between the Syracuse Crunch and Toronto Marlies.

Anywhere from 7-12 teams are believed to be interested in Drouin. Yzerman told reporters Thursday he is “actively and aggressively” pursuing a trade.

This week’s developments, however, may have caused a handful of teams to pump the brakes on looking to acquire the third-overall pick from the 2013 NHL Draft.

“It’s so tough to tell,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told Edmonton’s 630 CHED Friday. “I think [Tampa] would love to do it. I think they want to get the distraction over with, but I think some of the teams that were heavily into the market – St. Louis has kind of backed off a little bit, Anaheim has really backed off.”

It has been widely reported that the Montreal Canadiens would be interested in a player like Drouin, but Friedman mentioned another Atlantic Division team that might be in on the action.

“I think a team that could be quietly in on this is Detroit. But again, it’s trading him inside the division, right? I think Tampa will ask a higher premium from teams [within the division].

“I think what Yzerman is doing is trying to play [interested] teams off each other, but I think part of the problem too is some of these teams are looking at it and saying, ‘Drouin is a great player, but are we going to be better with him now, or better with him in two years?’ It’s a very difficult target to understand because Tampa is so quiet, but I do think they want to end this as quickly as they possibly can.”

Drouin’s refusal to play a game until he’s dealt has raised eyebrows throughout the hockey world, but it seems unlikely that it would prevent a trade from being completed altogether.

“People are saying teams are not going to want him because he’s a holdout and that’s a big red flag,” TVA Sports’ NHL insider Renaud Lavoie told Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday. “Well, that’s not the reality. The reality is there’s a lot of teams interested in having him.”

The 20-year-old has recorded six goals and 34 assists in 89 total NHL games following a tremendous junior career with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL.

Stick tap to Chris Nichols at todaysslapshot.com for the 630 CHED transcription