Yzerman: Drouin, Connolly sent down to get more minutes

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The Tampa Bay Lightning made some tough roster moves by returning Jonathan Drouin to the QMJHL and sending Brett Connolly to the AHL. GM Steve Yzerman opened up about his decisions to the Tampa Bay Times and in both cases, it came down to the Lightning simply wanting them to get more ice time.

That argument is particularly easy to understand with Drouin, even if the decision will still come as a surprise to some. Drouin was taken with the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft after recording 105 points in 49 games with the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads last season.

He was regarded as an early contender for the Calder Trophy, but Yzerman feared he might end up with limited minutes.

Connolly’s situation is a bit different as the 21-year-old already has 73 NHL games under his belt. On top of that, he excelled in the AHL last season with 31 goals and 63 points in 71 games.

Even still, he couldn’t find a spot on any of Tampa Bay’s top three lines, despite Yzerman’s assertion that he “played extremely well throughout camp.”

Yzerman is looking for Connolly to be a leader with AHL Syracuse until the circumstances in Tampa Bay changes for one reason or another and the Lightning suddenly have an appropriate spot available for him.

Meanwhile Tampa Bay’s quest to get back into the playoffs will start on Thursday with a game against the Boston Bruins.