Jonathan Drouin

Drouin is ‘over’ being sent back to junior, aims to make Tampa this year

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When Tampa Bay Lightning 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Drouin didn’t make the team out of training camp last season, it came as a big surprise to most.

After all, he just had a monster season in the QMJHL with Halifax and it was assumed the Lightning could use the help. Instead, Drouin was sent back to Halifax where he could’ve sulked, but rather he got better and is ready to make an impact on the Lightning this season as Tal Pinchevsky of NHL.com shared.

“I think I’m over [being sent back]. I don’t want to think about it too much. In the end, it was their decision to send me back to juniors for another year,” Drouin said. “Obviously you want to prove them wrong, but as the year went on I think I was playing more for the Mooseheads than anything else. You forget about being cut and you move on a little bit. It was a big deal, but I’m only 19 years old. I have many years in front of me to try to make the club.”

While he’s 19, he’s coming off another monster season in the QMJHL where he had 29 goals and 79 assists. The previous season saw him score 41 goals so he’s got the skills to fill the net and help others.

Adding that sort of ability to the current Lightning roster could make them serious contenders to win the Eastern Conference next season. If Drouin can fit in seamlessly he could also be looking at a Calder Trophy as well. He may have been disappointed with being sent back last year, but big things are coming.

Sabres send Grigorenko back to juniors… again

Mikhail Grigorenko
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The writing has been on the wall for a while now, but the Buffalo Sabres are sending Mikhail Grigorenko back to his junior team for the second consecutive season.

Interim coach Ted Nolan announced that Grigorenko was being sent back to the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL following Sabres practice this morning. Grigorenko had said he wanted to stay with the Sabres, but that won’t be happening.

Grigorenko, 19, was a first-round pick in 2012 and has had  three coaches during his two NHL seasons. Last season, Grigorenko played 25 games under Lindy Ruff and Ron Rolston before being sent back to Quebec.

This season, Grigorenko was routinely placed on the fourth line with John Scott and Patrick Kaleta under Rolston and while he’s had a few games with Nolan, he was allowed to play in the World Junior Championships for Russia. Because of his age, he’s ineligible to play in the American Hockey League until his junior team’s season is over.

Now that he’s through two years of his entry-level deal without any real success at the NHL level, there are questions about just how good he is. Lighting up the QMJHL one more time may not prove that.

Wild send Dumba back to junior

dumba2getty
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The Minnesota Wild have sent defenseman Matt Dumba back to junior for the rest of the season. The 19-year-old will play for the powerhouse Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

“We’re excited to add a player of Mathew’s caliber to our roster as we enter the second half of the season,” said Winterhawks general manager and coach Mike Johnston. “He has proven to be an elite player at this level, and the experience he’s gained in the NHL and the World Junior Championship will be tremendously valuable for us.”

Drafted seventh overall in 2012, Dumba played 13 games for Minnesota in 2013-14, scoring a goal and an assist.

In hindsight, it would’ve been better for the Wild to send him down before he’d played 10 games and the first year of his entry-level contract had kicked in.

Related: Wild assign Dumba to Canadian junior team

Isles first-rounder Reinhart says lack of playing time ‘a little frustrating’ (Update: He’s been sent back to junior)

GriffinReinhart
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Griffin Reinhart, New York’s big-bodied defenseman taken No. 4 overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, has been a healthy scratch in each of the Islanders’ first three games this season.

On Tuesday, he admitted the situation had started to wear on him a bit.

“It’s a little frustrating not playing, but I’ve been in junior several years now, and I don’t think there’s too much more for me to be learned down there,” Reinhart told the New York Post. “So I think just practicing here — even if I was just practicing here all year, and playing a few games — I’d learn more from these guys than going back to junior.”

Reinhart, 19, has only two playing options for this season (because of the CHL-AHL age limit rule): head back to WHL Edmonton, or stick it out with the Isles.

The latter seems to be the preferred scenario for all parties involved. Both the Isles and Griffin see the benefit of him being at the NHL level, though it is tough for the club to throw him in the mix, especially after Tuesday night’s 6-1 thrashing of Phoenix in which the six-man unit of Travis Hamonic, Lubomir Visnovsky, Thomas Hickey, Brian Strait, Matt Donovan and Andrew MacDonald finished a combined plus-6 with Donovan scoring his first goal of the year.

Still, the Isles will probably be more cognizant of making sure the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Reinhart doesn’t end up like the aforementioned Niederreiter.

After being placed in the Isles lineup at 19 years of age — too soon, some contended — Niederreiter was dispatched back to the AHL for one-and-a-half years of further seasoning. He became frustrated with his situation and rumblings of trade talks swirled before he was eventually dealt to Minnesota at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

UPDATE 11:02 a.m. ET

Well, this is interesting — in an odd twist, the Isles have decided to send Reinhart back to WHL Edmonton, according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple. More on this story as it develops.

UPDATE 12:19 p.m. ET

Isles head coach Jack Capuano on the demotion:

“We sent Griffin down since if he’s not getting in the lineup and getting those minutes he should go back to juniors and get that experience.”

Monahan making it tough for Flames to send him back to junior

seanmonahan
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Just three games into the regular season, Calgary Flames fans are already seeing why the club used its sixth overall pick on Sean Monahan. The question now is, will they keep seeing it all season, or will he be returned to his junior club in Ottawa?

The argument for keeping Monahan: he has two goals and one assist as Calgary (1-0-2) has collected at least a point in each of its first three games.

But on the other hand: the 18-year-old center is minus-3 and, according to head coach Bob Hartley, “There’s lots of junior stuff still in his game.”

Monahan can play nine games with the Flames before they have to make a decision on whether to keep him or send him back to the OHL (and delay the start of his entry-level contract).

Calgary isn’t exactly deep at center, so if Monahan keeps producing at his current level, there’s reason to believe he could stay all season with the big club, playing meaningful minutes and gaining valuable experience in the process.

The Flames won’t want to rush him though, and delaying the start of that ELC will be tempting for a team that’s only starting its rebuild.