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Jonathan Drouin's development on track a year after being drafted

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

One year ago this weekend the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted forward Jonathan Drouin third overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. With this year’s draft set to take place Friday and Saturday, Lightning beat writer Missy Zielinski caught up with director of player development Stacy Roest to learn more about Drouin’s 2013-14 season with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax Mooseheads.

Missy Zielinski: Overall, Drouin had a good offensive year in juniors, what did you see from him that really peaked your interest?

Stacy Roest: He played so much; he played every situation, he improved on faceoffs. He really rounded-out his game and became more mature. He is a great kid and player who really had a great year. There was a lot of pressure on him, going back to juniors, but he did really well and had a great all-around season.

MZ: You’ve done a lot of work with him. When he went back to juniors, how did you see him handle that and use it as motivation?

SR: This maybe was the first time he’s been cut from a team. He had to go back to juniors and take a step backward. He was obviously disappointed, but he got refocused, buckled down and took it as a challenge to get to the next level possibly next year.

MZ: Was there one game or one moment this past season where you realized he’s ready to take his game to the next level?

SR: I wouldn’t say there was one specific moment, but his all-around commitment to becoming a better player was evident. In the playoffs he was outstanding.

MZ: What was Drouin’s major hurdle he had to overcome?

SR: His strength, getting stronger. I’ve talked to a lot of guys that go from junior to pros and one of the biggest adjustments they mention is moving away from the puck. You have to get open away from the puck. It’s hard to get the puck in this league and it’s important to learn to play away from the puck.

MZ: Do you think that was a big learning curve for him?

SR: All these stars in juniors get the puck and make plays. Everyone’s looking for you all the time to make things happen and then when you get to the pros everyone is just as good as you, if not better. All these guys come out of juniors and college to the NHL – one of the toughest leagues in the world – so it’s a big adjustment.

MZ: What do you want to see from him moving forward this offseason?

SR: Last summer he didn’t have a summer. He went to the Memorial Cup, the combine, then the draft, then we drafted him, then came development camp. He needs a little bit of rest to recuperate this time around. His main expectations are getting stronger and getting into shape this offseason.

MZ: What type of player do you want him to develop into?

SR: The way Cooper coaches and Steve [Yzerman] runs it, he needs to be a two-way player. He’s gifted offensively, his skating is good and his puck movement is good. I think just playing a good solid two-way game. Cooper holds guys accountable, I mean it’s great to score goals, but we have to keep them out of the net too. Cooper gets his players to buy into that and Drouin won’t be any different.

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