Jonathan Drouin has represented Canada twice in the World Junior Championships. He won’t join his countrymen for a third stint.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman wasn’t ready to make that call last week, but on Thursday he announced that the 19-year-old rookie forward would stick with Tampa Bay.
“If you went and watched him play last year, you would notice a significant…improvement: played center, became a real good face off man, an outstanding penalty killer, strong in the D zone,” Yzerman said, per the Lightning’s website. “The NHL is a different league, and it’s just going to take a little time adjusting. We’re asking him to do more than just score, (to) be good in all aspects of the game and he’s committed to it and we want him to get as much opportunity here.”
Drouin has occasionally been listed as a healthy scratch this season and has only averaged 12:58 minutes of ice time per game when he does play. However, Yzerman’s announcement corresponded with the revelation that forward Ondrej Palat is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, so there’s a new opportunity for Drouin with Tampa Bay.
“I want to stay here for the full year, and that’s four weeks away from the team,” Drouin said, according to Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns.
Tampa Bay will begin a five-game road trip in Washington on Saturday.