Drouin hasn’t had the same success in the NHL that his former Halifax Mooseheads teammate Nathan MacKinnon or fellow 2013 draftees Aleksander Barkov, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and Max Domi have enjoyed, but Drouin’s ceiling remains incredibly high.
Bobby Smith, the majority owner of the Mooseheads, recently told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times he thinks it would be a “terrible mistake” if the Lightning traded the 20-year-old.
If the Lightning and Drouin can’t salvage their relationship, there’s a good possibility he’ll be gone sooner rather than later.
Pending unrestricted Lightning free agent Steven Stamkos, who has also been subject to trade rumours this season, has said he hopes the Lightning will be buyers and not sellers at the trade deadline.
The Lightning have approximately $2 million in cap space to work with, which could potentially complicate things since they’d likely require at least one quality roster player in return for Drouin. It’s believed the Lightning are looking for a right-handed, puck-moving defenceman and/or a forward with a decent amount of term remaining on his contract.
With that in mind, here are seven teams in a position to make a push to acquire Drouin in the near future.
It’s no secret the Canadiens always covet francophone stars and Drouin is a Quebec native who was a QMJHL star. The Habs are reportedly strongly pursuing Drouin with Sportsnet’s Eric Engels saying the Canadiens were one of two teams to contact Mooseheads coaches for some background info on Drouin shortly after the trade request was made public.
Jeff Petry has been solid for Montreal and he’s the type of blueliner Tampa might covet. The Canadiens also have Nathan Beaulieu and Andrei Markov. All three of those defencemen have some form of no-movement clause. Theses types of trades are never easy to pull off, and the fact Montreal and Tampa Bay are division rivals makes it all the more difficult.
According to Larry Brooks of The New York Post, Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton talked to Yzerman about Drouin prior to the player’s agent releasing his statement.
Keith Yandle is the type of player the Lightning would be interested in. He’s a quality puck mover who can run a power play. Yandle is also a pending UFA so the Rangers would have to include additional pieces. The Rangers have several pending restricted free agents, including Chris Kreider, Emerson Etem, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller they need to re-sign.
These two teams are no strangers to dealing with one another. Two years ago the Lightning sent Martin St. Louis to the Blueshirts for Ryan Callahan, a first-round pick and conditional second-round pick.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Blues are interested in Drouin.
Alex Pietrangelo isn’t going anywhere, but would the allure of Drouin be enough to pry Kevin Shattenkirk away from the Blues? Shattenkirk has just one more year remaining on his deal. If Blues management don't believe they can sign him long-term, why wouldn’t they explore moving him? Colton Parayko is another interesting name to consider. The Blues have some cap issues, so unloading a contract or two would be beneficial.
Adding to the intrigue was a recent report by Erik Erlendsson indicating Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman and assistant GM Pat Verbeek have been regular observers at recent Blues games.
The Flames are a team that allows their young, skilled forwards to be creative (Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett can attest to this), so Calgary could be a good fit for Drouin. Dennis Wideman, who has a no-movement clause, would help Tampa’s offence from the back end while a player like pending UFA Kris Russell’s style lends itself well to playoff-style hockey.
The Flames also have a number of young forwards they could dangle if they were so inclined.
The Leafs seem to always be in the mix when a notable player is available. In this case, even though it’s a long shot, it makes sense because a promising young talent like Drouin is exactly the type of player a rebuilding team such as Toronto covets. Drouin would join William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen and Mitch Marner as Leafs prospects with extremely high offensive upside.
The Maple Leafs are thin on right-handed defencemen, but Jake Gardiner can play on both sides of the ice.
The Ducks could use a shakeup. Anaheim has been one of the biggest disappointments this season and they’ve got a plethora of talent on defence. Sami Vatanen would be a potential target and is more likely to be dealt than Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm or Shea Theodore.
John Shannon and Damien Cox speculated on Prime Time Sports last week that the Avs would be a good fit for Drouin.
Even though Colorado isn't in much of a position to trade away defencemen, Tyson Barrie would be the name to monitor here. He’s 24, a pending RFA and one of the most underrated blueliners in the NHL.