Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday he would prefer to trade forward Jonathan Drouin before the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.
"I definitely prefer to deal him sooner than later, it would be better for everyone," Yzerman said. "A lot of things factor into it when making the trade, a lot of things to consider here. But No. 1 is, 'Can I do something involving Jonathan that benefits the team that makes us better right now that helps us for the playoffs?' I'd certainly like to do that."
Yzerman told reporter Joe Smith he would like to make an acquisition that helps the Lightning power play.
"Every time we talk about a trade with another team, you're hoping to give up as little as you can, but the reality is, if you want something you have to pay for it, and that's what you've got to do," Yzerman said.
Drouin was demoted to Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Jan. 2 and a trade request made in November became public the next day. He was suspended on Jan. 20 and has not played in a game since.
Tampa Bay has won four straight games since Yzerman released a statement Feb. 15 saying captain Steven Stamkos would not be traded prior to the deadline. Contract talks continue with Stamkos, who has scored in each of those four games; he can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
"I don't think taking pressure off is why we did it," Yzerman said. "Simply myself and [Steven] and (agents) Donnie Meehan and Mark Guy talked about it and the reality is he's not going to be traded. The sooner we said that, it could end all the speculation and [Steven] doesn't have to answer that question every day, and I think that just makes his life a little easier on a day-to-day basis. It limits the distractions and he doesn't have to deal with it every day. There was a lot of potential speculation on something that wasn't going to happen."
Drouin had six points (one goal, five assists) in his first five games this season but missed 19 games because of injuries and had two points in his past 14 NHL games. He had two goals, one assist and 15 shots on goal in six games with Syracuse before he was suspended prior to playing the Toronto Marlies.
Drouin and his agent, Allan Walsh, had proposed Drouin practice but not play for Syracuse in order to avoid an injury that could stop a potential trade.
Yzerman will play for the Detroit Red Wings against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday in the 2016 Stadium Series Alumni Game at Coors Field. He said that won't prevent him from making a deal over the weekend.
"Well, I wouldn't say that," he said. "There's between periods, can get stuff done."