Jonathan Drouin’s been waiting for this moment for a long time. A few weeks ago, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman mentioned that Drouin returning to the lineup was “very realistic” and on Thursday, the Bolts made the move official.
Drouin last played in the NHL on Dec. 30. He was then sent to AHL Syracuse to work on his game, but that didn’t sit well with him. The 21-year-old played in seven games with the Crunch before deciding to head back home to Montreal. Tampa Bay had no choice but to suspend him.
Drouin’s camp was hoping that Yzerman would be able to unload the former third overall pick in 2013 before the trade deadline, but that never happened. Drouin swallowed his pride and returned to the AHL after a lengthy absence.
With Steven Stamkos (blood clot) being unavailable for the next 1 to 3 months, the Lightning needed to add some offensive talent to their lineup. They probably would have recalled Drouin sooner had he not been injured last week.
As Bob McKenzie points out, adding Drouin to the man-advantage could also spark Tampa’s 26th ranked power play. In 17 games with the Crunch this season, he’s scored 11 goals with five of those coming on the power play.