Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon may have been the first pick at the 2013 NHL Draft, but former teammate Jonathan Drouin becomes the first to sign his name to an NHL contract.
The Tampa Bay Lightning made that official Friday when they signed the No. 3 pick of the draft, a forward out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Drouin will be participating in the Lightning's annual development camp, which begins Saturday at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum in Tampa Bay.
After being chosen behind teammate MacKinnon and No. 2 Aleksander Barkov of Finland, Drouin was obviously ecstatic.
"I think it's a good fit," he said. "They've got a young prospect, great old players, too, that are experienced, and I think it's the best fit for me."
He was asked about the possibility of playing alongside Steven Stamkos.
"Obviously there's a lot of skill there, and I'm a skill player, so I'll try to fit in," Drouin said. "They have experience and they're really good, so we'll see what happens."
Drouin, the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year in 2012-13, had 41 goals, 105 points a plus-48 rating in 49 games for Halifax. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound wing had a 29-game point streak from Nov. 30, 2012, to March 15, 2013, collecting 26 goals and 65 points during that span.
He led all scorers in the QMJHL playoffs with 35 points (12 goals) then connected for one goal and nine points in four Memorial Cup games. MacKinnon won the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player in the Memorial Cup after connecting for seven goals and 13 points in his team's four games.
Drouin helped lead Canada to a gold medal at the 2012 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament and competed for Team QMJHL against Russia at the 2012 Subway Super Series. Drouin was chosen to play for the Canadian National Junior Team at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, and chipped in with two goals and four points is six games for the fourth-place Canadians.
Perhaps even more surprising was learning he had earned a role on Canada's top line alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers) and Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets) in the fourth game of the tournament against Russia. He would replace alternate captain Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers) on that line. Huberdeau won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year in 2012-13.
"The most important thing I learned at WJC was maturity," Drouin said. "You look at those guys like Nugent-Hopkins, who plays in the NHL, and I think you see what they do. They're always calm and not running around trying to hit people. They're just playing their game and that's what I try to bring."
Drouin skated in 82 games in the QMJHL and had 48 goals, 134 points and a plus-43 rating. He played in 34 playoff games, connecting for 21 goals and 61 points.