Reaction to Tampa Bay Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin’s trade request, including a report the New York Rangers are interested in the young forward.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports “multiple sources” claim Rangers GM Jeff Gorton spoke with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman regarding Drouin when the Blueshirts played the Bolts last Wednesday in Tampa Bay. The two clubs have a recent trade history (Martin St. Louis in 2014), but Brooks claims it’s unknown if the two GMs have exchanged offers. He suggests defenseman Keith Yandle as a possible trade chip, as the Rangers cannot afford to re-sign him before his UFA eligibility this July. Brooks cites league deputy commissioner Bill Daly saying the Rangers have the option of deferring trading their 2016 first-round pick to Arizona (part of the return that brought Yandle to the Rangers last season) to their 2017 pick, which would allow them to use this year’s pick in a trade this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There probably isn’t a fit between those two clubs. While I don’t doubt Gorton has interest in Drouin, it’ll take more than Yandle to get him. Yzerman isn’t going to just give Drouin away for a playoff rental he cannot afford to retain after this season when he’s got key players like Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn to re-sign this summer, and Ben Bishop, Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat to re-up in 2017.
Unless Yzerman has already decided he’s not re-signing Stamkos, I don’t see how he can afford to acquire and re-sign Yandle, who’ll likely seek over $6 million annually on a long-term deal. Even then, it could take up a lot of cap space that will be needed for the expensive raises necessary to keep Hedman, Johnson, Palat, Kucherov and Killorn in Tampa Bay for the long term.
SPORTSNET: Damien Cox observes Tampa Bay Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin is the third player to have made a trade request this season, with San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau and New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic being the others. Cox points out those requests have yet to be honored. One reason is the salary cap and the other is teams are using what control they have over players for as long as they have it. As a result, trade demand scenarios aren’t as frightening for a team as they once were. Cox believes it’s theoretically possible Drouin could fetch the Lightning a top-four defenseman before the trade deadline.
Luke Fox believes it’s important for the Lightning to avoid the type of return the Arizona Coyotes received from the Ottawa Senators in 2011 for center Kyle Turris. The Coyotes received defenseman David Rundblad and a second-round pick for Turris. Fox speculates Drouin might fetch a roster-ready defenseman and a second- or third-round draft pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe Turris’ standoff with the Coyotes is comparable to Drouin’s case. The Coyotes were under pressure to re-sign Turris, a restricted free agent in 2011, before December 1 of that year or risk him missing the remainder of the season. After the Coyotes blinked and re-signed him, it was only a matter of time until he was dealt. That’s not the case here with Drouin, who has another season remaining on his entry-level contract. Yzerman isn’t facing the same pressure with Drouin as Coyotes GM Don Maloney did with Turris. Assuming the intent is to honor Drouin’s trade request. the Lighting GM can take his time fielding offers until he gets one worthwhile.
Elliotte Friedman (via Today’s Slapshot) believes the Lightning will set an expensive price for Drouin if they do trade him, citing his youth (20) and the fact he was a third-overall pick in the 2013 draft. Friedman believes the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils are two Eastern Conference clubs that make sense as potential destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes and Devils have depth in young, affordable talent that could interest the Lightning. It remains to be seen, however, if either club is keen to pursue a deal for Drouin.