‘Door is open’ for Drouin to return to Tampa Bay


Maybe the situation is salvageable after all.

Not long after opting not to trade Jonathan Drouin by Monday’s 3 p.m. EST deadline, Bolts GM Steve Yzerman told reporters he’d still welcome Drouin back to the club — even though the former No. 3 overall pick has been under team-issued suspension for over a month.

“Jonathan is suspended,” Yzerman said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “If he wants to come back, the door is open. That’s up to him.”

It sounded like Yzerman had plenty of suitors for Drouin leading up to the deadline, but several factors got in the way. One, unsurprisingly, was concern from inquiring teams about Drouin’s playing shape, given he’s been out of action since Jan. 20.

Another factor was what Yzerman got offered.

Earlier, he said he’d like to get his club some help on the power play, and there were also reports of Tampa Bay seeking a right-handed shooting defenseman. But the end of the day, acquiring rentals on expiring contracts just didn’t make sense.

Now that the deadline has passed, it’s clear that, regardless of how pear-shaped the situation with Drouin has become, Yzerman understands 1) how talented the kid is, and 2) how much value he has.

Which is why bringing up a potential return to the Bolts is interesting, but not really surprising.

Remember, it was Drouin’s old Quebec League GM, Bobby Smith, who back in January predicted Yzerman would ‘get this back on the rails.”

“I know the teams that have traded away this type of player, whether his name is Joe Thornton or Tyler Seguin, normally live to regret it,” Smith told the Tampa Bay Times. “I think Steve Yzerman, having been not an elite player, a super elite player, is going to get this back on the rails and Jonathan is going to have a long and very good career.”

Of course, we should tap the brakes on a Drouin reunion just a bit. Yzerman did say he hasn’t spoken with Drouin or agent Allan Walsh about a return, and hasn’t thought about reaching out to them.

Related: Trade deadline day 2016 — in like a lamb, out with a whimper