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Drouin's return to Lightning 'very realistic'

Tampa Bay GM Yzerman says forward will be recalled if it is 'right thing to do'

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

NHL Live: Yzerman on Drouin

Yzerman on Drouin and his performance

Steve Mears catches up with Steve Yzerman to discuss Jonathan Drouin's return and his performance with the Tampa Bay Lightning

  • 01:04 •

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Jonathan Drouin being recalled by the Tampa Bay Lightning this season is "very realistic," general manager Steve Yzerman said Tuesday. 

Yzerman was asked about Drouin after the NHL general managers met here Tuesday. Drouin was suspended by the Lightning after he refused to report to an American Hockey League game on Jan. 20.

After he wasn't traded at the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 29, Drouin decided to return to the Syracuse Crunch on March 8. 

The forward played in three AHL games this past weekend, with an assist Friday and two goals Saturday. He did not have a point Sunday. 

"I thought considering the length of time he was out, he looked good," said Yzerman, who said he watched the games on video. "His conditioning was good, his speed was good, he played well and, ultimately, I go back to when he was first assigned to the AHL (on Jan. 2), it wasn't a demotion, it was simply to go down, though not on conditioning, was strictly as conditioning to get some games after missing a lot due to injury. 

"The plan was for him to go down and play and come back, so with the situation right now, if it is good for our team and it is the right thing to do, he will be recalled. So, it's very realistic."

Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, had two goals and eight points in 19 games with the Lightning before he was sent down, and had two goals and three points in seven games with Syracuse before leaving the team. 

Yzerman said the future of the Lightning must take precedence over his thoughts about a specific player. 

Entering play Tuesday, the Lightning were in second place in the Atlantic Division, one point behind the Boston Bruins and holding the tiebreaker against the Florida Panthers. The Lightning were five points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who held the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. 

"We're trying to clinch a playoff spot right now and hopefully we can do that and then ultimately be successful in the playoffs," Yzerman said. "I think it's my responsibility to make any decision based on what's going to help us 1) make the playoffs, and 2) win in the playoffs." 

Drouin was a healthy scratch for much of the Lightning's run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, playing in six of 26 games. He did not score a point and was minus-6; the Lightning lost the Final to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

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