Perhaps Steve Yzerman is smarter, luckier, or more stubborn than Don Maloney circa 2011.
The Tampa Bay Lightning general manager did, you’ll recall, salvage two first-round picks (both later dealt to the New York Islanders) and Ryan Callahan from the New York Rangers when captain Martin St. Louis requested a trade back in 2014, and gave a destination list of one.
But the Rangers knew precisely what they were getting in St. Louis. Jonathan Drouin — all hands, promise and frustration — is a different story.
And thus far, Drouin’s tale compares to that of Kyle Turris, another fed-up, under-developed, seemingly under-achieving third-overall pick who wanted to flee the club that drafted him.
Just as Turris’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, stated before his client was dealt from the Coyotes to to the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 17, 2011, Drouin’s desire to move is not about money; it’s about fit. The Lightning prospect still has another full season on his entry-level contract.
Drouin will turn 21 after the trade deadline. Turris was 22 when Maloney swapped him for defenceman David Rundblad (then a first-round prospect, now a Zurich Lion) and a second-rounder. With the gift of hindsight, we can confidently say Maloney got worked.
Turris is Ottawa’s top centre, on pace for his third straight 25-goal season for the Senators. Bonus: Turris’s slow start in the desert allowed Ottawa GM Bryan Murray to lock him up through 2018 at a team-friendly $3.5-million cap hit.
Yzerman can’t afford to lose Drouin, whose offensive production could eventually exceed Turris’s, for a return like that. Yet the market won’t be kind. A second- or third-round pick plus a roster-ready defenceman, perhaps? (And you have to believe the 2015 GM of the Year would try to toss in the Lightning’s too-expensive Matt Carle for a multi-player deal.)
“He was a young guy with a big upside,” Murray told Hockey Central at Noon of Turris. “For some reason, he probably came up a bit early [with the Coyotes] to play in the NHL and was a little behind.”
Partly due to regulations that forced Tampa into an NHL-or-junior decision when Drouin was a teen, he too hasn’t developed in the ideal way. Had more time been spent with professionals in the AHL, we might not have reached this ugly point.
Interestingly, Turris himself offered advice to Drouin on a Toronto radio station back in June.
“It can be tricky. In my situation in Phoenix, the organization was in a difficult situation and the idea was to kind of win immediately and have a kind of slower progression to develop the younger guys,” said Turris, who, like Drouin, put up decent if unspectacular numbers as a hyped-up rookie.
“Work hard and just continue to grow and develop. That can be a self-motivating situation where he’s trying to find little goals to continue to grow. Or, if he’s getting the opportunity, then trying to take that opportunity and run with it.”
Drouin is all ready to run. We just don’t know where the opportunity will be.