Johnston: Lightning ‘trying hard’ to get Jonathan Drouin deal done

The Hockey Central at Noon panel takes another look at the Jonathan Drouin saga in Tampa Bay and why there is a very real chance that the talented forward may not play for the remainder of the season.

While the majority of NHL trades prior to the Feb. 29 deadline have involved impending free agents, there’s one fascinating name still on the market.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are dangling forward Jonathan Drouin in trade talks, and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said GM Steve Yzerman is “trying hard to get it done” in an interview Sunday with Sportsnet 590 The Fan.

“The Lightning want it to be done,” Johnston told host Ben Ennis. “They see it as an opportunity to bring in a piece that can help them. They’ve rebounded over the last month from a tough season. I don’t think they’re viewed anywhere near a Stanley Cup contender they were last June. So this is the big piece he can play. Now that he has decided not to trade away Steven Stamkos, this is his move to get better.”

It’s unique that such a highly-touted prospect has come available around deadline time, but Drouin has not lived up to expectations since the club selected him third overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. He has two goals and six assists in 19 games with the Lightning this season.

The 20-year-old forward is currently serving an indefinite team suspension at home in Montreal for failing to report to a game for the team’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, in Toronto last month and has not suited up in an NHL game since Dec. 30.

Drouin, who’s contract carries a salary cap hit of $894,167, is scheduled to become a restricted free agent after the 2016-17 season.

He ranked No. 4 in Sportsnet’s list of available players heading into the trade deadline.

Otherwise, Johnston touched on a few other topics, including the status of Toronto Maple Leafs forward P.A. Parenteau.

On Parenteau:
“It’s pretty strong,” Johnston said of Paranteau’s market. “He’ll get the Leafs a second-round pick. He’s played very well. He’s made use of the extra ice time he’s been given versus where he’s been the last couple of seasons. I don’t think there is any way he isn’t traded. That’s how he feels. That’s how the organization feels.”

On the James Reimer trade:
“Some were critical of the return but it’s a very limited market when it comes to goalies,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of teams looking to buy a goalie because teams in playoff positions are usually settled at that position. That was a bit of an outlier but the rental prices have been high. It’s a good time to be selling and there are still some buyers out there.”

On the Florida Panthers:
“I don’t think they’re done,” he said after Florida made three trades on Saturday. “I think they’re in the market for a winger still. Really, what they’re trying to do is capture a moment in time. They’ve had such a great season and want to give these guys the best opportunity to go on a playoff run and build up some interest in their market. This is an exciting year and GM Dale Tallon feels like he owes it to the team and organization to give them the best chance to win.”

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