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Jonathan Drouin will 'be a stud,' Steven Stamkos says

Lightning captain sees bright future with potential long-term linemate @NHL

Steven Stamkos sees a lot of potential in possible long-term linemate Jonathan Drouin.

The Tampa Bay Lightning forwards could have a bright future now that Stamkos has signed an eight-year contract and Drouin no longer wants to leave.

"When Jonathan took the trade request back, that was huge," Stamkos told ESPN. "We all saw what he did in the last five regular-season games and in the playoffs. Given the opportunity, the way he prepared himself for games, he was almost a new player.

"Sometimes you need to go through some tough, adverse times in your career to learn. He did that. He learned that at a young age and he's going to be a stud in this League for a long time."

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm7: Drouin whips puck past Murray

Drouin, who asked to be traded then was demoted and suspended by the Lightning during last season, scored in each of his two regular-season games after he was recalled from Syracuse of the American Hockey League, and had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

The 21-year-old did not get to play with Stamkos until Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins because the Lightning captain was recovering from surgery to treat a blood clot.

Stamkos, 26, chose to stay with the Lightning before entering free agency, signing an eight-year contract reportedly worth $68 million on June 29. Defenseman Victor Hedman, 25, agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth $63 million two days later.

"Victor and I are extremely close friends," Stamkos told reporter Pierre LeBrun. "We came up in this organization as 18-year-old kids. To say that we're going to be together for the long run, and on one team, that's something special.

"We have talked a lot throughout this process. I joke with him that sometimes I forget the time difference (with Sweden) and I'm calling him at 4 in the morning. But he's always getting back to me as quick as he can. It was extremely exciting to see him sign. A big reason why both of us stuck around is because of the relationship that we have as teammates and as friends as well."

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