The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they’ve lifted the suspension of forward Jonathan Drouin and that he’ll report to AHL Syracuse tomorrow morning for practice.
The announcement comes one week after the NHL trade deadline. Drouin had been hoping to be dealt to a new team, but after the deadline came and went, Lighting GM Steve Yzerman said that the door was open for Drouin to play for the organization again.
Yzerman later clarified that, if Drouin were to return this season, it would be in the AHL, not the NHL.
“If he wants to play hockey his options are to go to Syracuse,” Yzerman told 620 WDAE radio on Tuesday. “I frankly don’t expect him to want to come back. I don’t know that I’d describe it as an open invitation but, again, if he wants to play, the Syracuse Crunch are playing. That’s the only place he can play right now.”
Drouin’s return to the Crunch has upside for both parties, even if the “ship has sailed” on him ever playing for the Lightning again.
For Drouin, it’s an opportunity to play pro hockey again, as well as showcase his skills for a potential suitor. For the Lightning, assuming he stays healthy and plays reasonably well, it has the potential to help them maximize their return in an offseason trade.
Drouin turns 21 on March 28. He had two goals and one assist in seven games for the Crunch before he was suspended for failing to report to a game in January.