Bobby Smith knows what it’s like to enter the NHL with high expectations. He also knows Jonathan Drouin, and he thinks things should eventually work out with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Smith was the first overall pick in the 1978 NHL draft. Today, he owns the Halifax Moosehead, Drouin’s former junior team.
Having seen up-close what Drouin can do on the ice, Smith believes Lightning GM Steve Yzerman would be wise to salvage the fractured relationship between player and club.
“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,” he 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.”
To be sure, talented young players have not always seen eye to eye with their NHL coaches and/or GMs. The difference in Drouin’s case is the public way that things have played out. Not only did his relationship with Lightning coach Jon Cooper become a story on the NHL’s biggest stage, the Stanley Cup Final, now his agent has come out and publicly requested a trade.
And remember, the last thing Drouin wanted going into this season was to end up in the AHL, which is exactly where the Lightning have assigned him.
“Nobody wants to go to the AHL,” Drouin said in July. “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.”
Without intimate knowledge, it’s impossible to say if the point of no return has been reached in Drouin’s case.
However, it may be worth noting that Patrick Marleau reportedly wanted to be traded in November, and we don’t hear much about that anymore.
Related: Laugh about it later? Lightning players react to Drouin’s trade request