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This Week's Question: How Will Drouin Impact Bolts?
With the third overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Lightning selected forward Jonathan Drouin, a skater who is known as a playmaker and a great passer. Both Al Murray and TSN analyst Bob McKenzie said Drouin has a special innate ability. What do you think his impact will be for the Lightning next season?
Lightning first round draft pick Jonathan Drouin has a chance to have a big impact in the 2013-14 season. Drouin will likely have the opportunity to play with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, and that alone is enough to help any players offensive numbers, much less the offensive numbers of a player with the talent of Drouin. Drouin will also likely get time on the power play, which again would mean more of an impact offensively. With all that being said, there is still the chance it may take him some time to adjust to the speed of NHL game, but once that happens, it is likely he will make a big impact for the Tampa Bay Lightning moving forward.
The Lightning walked away from Sunday's draft with a great player in Jonathan Drouin. With his hockey IQ, vision, and undeniable skill, he projects to be a long-term fit on the wing for the Lightning. As early as next season, I would expect Drouin to challenge for a spot on the team's second line. Due to the plethora of talented wingers in the Lightning's system, the team has the luxury of not having to overwork Drouin or rush his development out of necessity. He can develop at his own pace with some of the world's elite offensive players alongside him; in my opinion, this is a huge plus. With Jon Cooper at the helm behind the bench and Drouin's natural (read: fantastic) abilities, I have no doubt in my mind that this young player will be an amazing fit with the Lightning when the puck drops this Fall. Welcome to the Lightning, Jonathan!
I was one of those people coveting Seth Jones, so when the Lightning passed him by, I was disappointed. But I was "disappointed" the way somebody would be "disappointed" when having their heart set on a red Mercedes and getting a silver one instead. Knowing that the Lightning had a shot at one of three major impact choices (Drouin, Jones and MacKinnon),I looked forward to this draft like looking forward to Christmas as a kid. No bad presents! I do believe that one of Drouin's upsides in comparison to Jones is that he will be ready for the NHL sooner. I hope to see him come to camp and fit in right away so he can start the season in Tampa and help out immediately.
It's not wise to put too much pressure on a prospect, but Jonathan Drouin is not close to being an ordinary prospect. You don't pass on Seth Jones for an ordinary prospect. Drouin is truly special and prospect followers didn't blink when the Lightning took him ahead of Jones. Size and smarts are looked at first when looking at potential transition success. Balance is actually more important than size in the NHL and Drouin has Marty St. Louis-like tree trunks for legs. His core is very solid and he can actually create space for himself using his build and low angles. Combine that with his quickness - and especially his smarts, and he can fit in just fine next year with the Lightning. Where he slots has yet to be seen as one would think Stamkos-St. Louis doesn't get split up and the other player on that line has forechecking responsibilities.
Drouin will get ample power play time, most likely taking Lecavalier's spot at the right wing circle; he's got a strong enough left-handed shot to make it work, and passing certainly isn't an issue through the middle to the Stamkos circle. As for a prediction for the best prospect the Lightning has had since Stamkos, Brad Richards jumped into the NHL from the QMJHL (granted, he was a year older at the time) in 2000-2001 and led all rookies (and the Lightning) in scoring with 62 points. Tampa Bay had only three players with 20 or more goals that year and Richards was one of them (Modin led with 32). Drouin is a smarter player now than Richards was then - which is saying something - and has a better supporting cast around him. He also plays in a system that is offense-friendly and for a coach who isn't afraid to trust youth. Drouin could very realistically flirt with 70 points if he stays on the top two lines and gets power play duty. If that's the case, like Richards, he'll be a Calder finalist.
I actually have no expectations for Jon on the Lightning next season as he could very well end up back in Halifax next season. That’s because it’s not a black-and-white situation that a lot of media and fans are making it out to be regarding talent and where Drouin should play next season. We’ve had it hammered home that Drouin could play in the NHL immediately for the past few months leading up to the draft. That’s not in question.
The Lightning have taken a track of being patient with prospects, that’s the first hurdle Drouin would have to overcome to make the Lightning – can he show coaches and management he’s ready on day 1?
Secondly is the fact the Lightning already have top-6 wings in Ryan Malone, Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Alex Killorn, along with prospects that will push for roster spots for all potential roles.
Which players are you willing to displace to see Drouin in the NHL next season? That’s one way that Drouin could have an impact, depending on how convinced the Bolts are that he should be in Tampa to start things: that the roster could see the departure of fan-favorites for the sake of providing a spot for a true rookie.