Jonathan Drouin remained with the Tampa Bay Lightning after the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, which is not something general manager Steve Yzerman thought would happen.
Yzerman said he was willing to trade the 20-year-old wing before the deadline passed Monday afternoon, but none of the potential deals met his criteria.
"I'm not enjoying the situation," Yzerman said. "This is certainly not how I want this to play out. I'm not purposely dragging this out, I'm trying to do the right thing for the team, and when the right thing comes along, I will do that. Again, the intention is, when it is the right thing for the team, I'll act upon it."
Video: GM Steve Yzerman discusses today's Trade Deadline
Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, has been suspended by the Lightning since Jan. 20. He failed to report to a game with Syracuse, their American Hockey League affiliate, that day. Drouin was sent to the AHL on Jan. 2.
According to reports, there was interest through Monday in Drouin, who was slowed by injury this season and had two goals and eight points in 19 NHL games this season, his second in the League. He had four goals and 32 points in 70 games as a rookie.
Yzerman said he wanted something that would help the Lightning as much in the future as in the present and he was not interested in players approaching unrestricted free agency, particularly those he had no interest in signing.
"Any opportunities that I was talking about here in the last couple of months really have been for future things, things that wouldn't help us between now and the end of the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]," Yzerman said. "At this time, my feeling was if it's not going to help me now, it's not something that I absolutely can't say 'No' to, I'm better off keeping my options open for this summer because we have some uncertainty on our own roster and we have uncertainty with the salary cap this summer.
"If it wasn't an opportunity that involved draft picks or prospects, again I have to say, 'Hey I can't pass this up.' … My decision was to keep my options open and see where we are in the offseason."
Drouin could be traded before the season ends, but he would not be eligible for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. More likely, the next opportunity to trade Drouin will come at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo on June 24 and 25. Yzerman said he will have a better take on his Tampa Bay's finances and the NHL salary cap for the 2016-17 season by then.
Captain Steven Stamkos can become an unrestricted free agent and forward Nikita Kucherov can become a restricted free agent after this season. Defenseman Victor Hedman can become unrestricted, and forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat can become restricted after next season.
Yzerman said Drouin remains suspended but the door is open to return to Syracuse.
"It's up to him," he said. "His status is where it was."
The Lightning did not make any Monday. There was a belief Yzerman would look to add someone to their power play or some depth on defense, but he said the right opportunity never presented itself.
"The areas that I hoped to be able to really address, obviously I wasn't able to do that," Yzerman said.
But Yzerman said he is OK with the Lightning where they stand. It is virtually the same team that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final and lost a six-game series to the Chicago Blackhawks last season. They have won six straight games and were two points behind the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the Atlantic Division before playing the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
"There are things we could have done potentially that you have to pay a lot for and our feeling was it has to make us better, not deeper," he said. "If I'm going to pay for it, I want it to make us better. I like the way our team has played. The way the lines are set up, we are getting balanced scoring, the defense seems to be settling down. The way our team has played for the last two months, I'm very encouraged."