Tampa Bay Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin requested a trade, plus updates on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kerby Rychel and Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen.
Drouin camp seeks a trade.
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE/TAMPA BAY TIMES: Erik Erlendsson reports agent Allan Walsh, who represents Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin, released a statement Sunday claiming he requested a trade back in November on behalf of his client. Walsh believes it’s in everyone’s best interest if Drouin was dealt to another NHL team. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman responded by acknowledging the trade request was made in November, adding he intends to do what’s in the best interest of his club. For now, Drouin will report to the club’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse.
Joe Smith notes Drouin, who’s in the second season of his entry-level contract, has little leverage, though Walsh’s statement could stir up potential suitors. He suggests Toronto, Nashville, Buffalo and St. Louis as possible trade partners, noting Yzerman and assistant GM Pat Verbeek scouted a couple of recent Blues games. Smith feels the Lightning need a defenseman with a right-handed shot, observing the Predators are loaded with blueliners. If a club is also willing to take on blueliner Matt Carle’s $5.5 million annual cap hit, that could facilitate a trade. It’s been rumored there’s a rift between Drouin and Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
SI.COM: Allan Muir speculates the Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets as clubs which might have interest in Drouin. The Canadiens always seem to be in the mix when a Francophone player is involved while the Rangers could use a shakeup to save their season. Drouin could be a good fit on the rebuilding Canucks but it could cost them one of their promising young players. The Coyotes have the depth in young talent in their system to offer up a package. The Devils need to add scoring and also have prospect depth to draw from, as do the Maple Leafs. The Oilers also have some young roster talent to use as bait, but they’re more in need of blueline help. Ditto the Blue Jackets.
USA TODAY: Jimmy Hascup lists the Leafs, Predators, Canucks, Coyotes, Devils and Blue Jackets as six teams that should trade for Drouin.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis doubts the Oilers, in desperate need of defensive help, will move its best trade assets to add yet another scoring forward. Given Drouin’s potential, however, he feels it’s worthwhile for management to make inquiries.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl also noted Drouin’s trade request, pointing out Sabres GM Tim Murray “has made it clear often that he is in the market for young players with NHL experience.”
NHL.COM’s Joe Yerdon took to Twitter yesterday regarding the potential asking price for Drouin: “Looking at the deals for Niederreiter and Turris, you’re basically looking at a roster player and a not-first-round pick.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drouin will be traded, but it’ll be on Yzerman’s timetable. It’s possible he could wait until the NHL Draft in June to find the right deal. There will be lots of interest in the 20-year-old playmaker, who isn’t developing as hoped under Lightning coach Jon Cooper. Having re-signed the latter to an extension, Drouin doesn’t seem to have much of a future in Tampa Bay. The Lightning currently have just over $2 million in cap space, so they can’t afford to take on much salary, unless they can get move some out in the deal or in a separate trade.
Of the clubs listed above, I doubt Yzerman trades Drouin to a division rival like the Canadiens. The Rangers have blueline depth they can draw from to make an offer, but most are under no-trade protection, while those who aren’t (Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein) the Rangers likely prefer to keep. Yzerman probably won’t be interested in pending UFAs like Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle.
The last thing the Oilers need is another scoring forward when they so obviously need to bolster their defense and goaltending. The Blue Jackets need blueline help, but I don’t believe they’re interested in Matt Carle and his $5.5 million cap hit through 2017-18 as part of a return for Drouin. There’s also the little matter of Carle’s limited no-trade clause.
The Leafs, Canucks, Coyotes, Sabres and Devils seem the best destinations for Drouin, as they’re all rebuilding clubs in need of scoring depth and possess sufficient organization talent to make a pitch. I’d also add the Ducks, as they’re sorely lacking in scoring depth (especially on left wing) and have the depth in defensemen to interest the Lightning. Again, of course, there’s the issue of freeing up cap space on the Bolts part. I concur with Yerdon’s assessment that it could cost a roster player plus a non-first round pick to land Drouin.
Rychel also made a trade request.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline reports little-used Blue Jackets winger Kerby Rychel asked for a trade prior to the start of this season, but management has no interest in moving him. Rychel is a point-per-game player in the AHL “and has plenty of sandpaper.” Portzline claims the New York Rangers, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Anaheim, Boston and Detroit have shown interest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Jackets could land a reliable top-four defenseman, perhaps they’ll consider moving Rychel. For now, however, they’re not under much pressure to do so. Like Drouin, Rychel’s on an entry-level contract. However, he doesn’t have the same value as the Lightning winger.
Cowen faces an uncertain future.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Ken Warren notes Senators defenseman Jared Cowen was a healthy scratch Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Noting Cowen’s struggles, Warren believes something has to give. However, his annual cap hit of $3.1 million through 2016-17 could make him difficult to move via trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: GM Bryan Murray was reluctant to move Cowen, but his patience could be coming to an end. It wouldn’t be surprising if Murray tries to peddle the young blueliner before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if we start hearing more speculation of clubs scouting Cowen in the near future. Perhaps the Blue Jackets could be among them.