Jonathan Drouin admits he has “a little chip” on his shoulder.
The 20-year-old Tampa Bay forward — a healthy scratch for most of the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup Final — told NHL.com on Tuesday that he’s determined not to spend any time in the AHL next season.
Drouin was not eligible to play in the minors this past season.
“Nobody wants to go to the AHL,” Drouin said. “That’s not what I’m thinking about right now. I’m thinking about making the team and making more of an impact. Last year a lot of people said it wasn’t my greatest year, but I gained a lot, I learned a lot, and I’m definitely more ready going into the season, into training camp.”
The third overall pick in the 2013 draft, Drouin’s absence from the Lightning lineup was a popular topic of discussion during the postseason. More than once, he had to deny there was a rift with coach Jon Cooper. He denied it again Tuesday, calling Cooper a “good guy” and “a great player’s coach.”
Back in May, Cooper explained the decision to limit Drouin’s role by saying, “There is more than one net in a rink. There’s two. You have to be able to play in front of both.”
Based on that, it seems Drouin’s ability to play a complete game will determine much of his fate next season.