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Jonathan Drouin wants out of Tampa, but is Syracuse his next stop?

Jonathan Drouin was the third overall pick in 2013 but hasn't lived up to expectations so far. Scott Audette/NHLI/Getty Images

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MontoyaAl Montoya, Florida Panthers
Montoya turned aside 39 of 40 shots in a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. He has allowed only one goal in each of his past four starts (all wins) while backing up Roberto Luongo, and Montoya is now 6-1 overall on the season.


LehtonenKari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars
Lehtonen made 38 saves but also allowed all six goals in a 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders, after allowing three-first period goals and being pulled from his previous start.


Will Jonathan Drouin remain with the Tampa Bay organization all season?

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: How do we feel this Jonathan Drouin situation will work out for the Tampa Bay Lightning? Drouin's recent trade request was a while in the making, but I doubt the fact that it's been made public will force any precipitous move by Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. That's because Yzerman won't sell low on the former first-round pick no matter how public this situation has become. A trade will happen only when the Lightning feel they can get proper value in return for a player they feel can still be a big-time offensive asset. Drouin's next move will be interesting, too. Will he report to the team's AHL affiliate in Syracuse after being reassigned over the weekend? If he doesn't, he's looking at a potential suspension. The smart move for the kid is to show up and play in the AHL, which should eventually lead to being called back to Tampa. If he wants out, playing as hard as he can and as well as he can would the best course of action because he'd augment his value in the process. But again, don't expect Yzerman to force a trade just to appease the player. A lot is at stake for the Bolts, including the message that the whims of players won't dictate their actions. Coach Jon Cooper will be criticized by many for the way he's handled Drouin, but I'm not sure that's fair. Cooper was hard on Nikita Kucherov a few years ago, limiting Kucherov's role until his defensive game rounded out. Kucherov responded last season, and his role increased as a result. That opportunity likely would have been there for Drouin had the kid been more patient. I understand the frustration, and I've met Drouin and know he has a good heart. I just think he could have been a little more patient here. Thoughts?


Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: Well, Drouin's agent, Allan Walsh, is a smart guy, and he knows the Lightning are already in a difficult place with the stalemate regarding the contract of captain Steven Stamkos. Perhaps he feels that biding his time until now (the request was made in November) will motivate the Lightning to move quickly to make the Drouin situation go away and avoid yet another distraction. But that's not going to happen. Drouin has no leverage. None. And by going public with his dissatisfaction over his situation, Drouin has attached yet another red flag to his résumé. He's already been a major disappointment as a top prospect. Do you think Yzerman wishes he had taken Seth Jones or Elias Lindholm, or Sean Monahan, Max Domi, Rasmus Ristolainen or Darnell Nurse, all of whom were selected after Drouin was taken third overall in 2013? Maybe. Is there a GM anywhere who would take Drouin straight-up for any of those established NHL players right now? Not one who's any good at his job. And how does all this boohooing over how he's been treated help Drouin become a better NHLer? How do his teammates and coaches and Yzerman look at Drouin now without seeing a kid who feels some grand sense of entitlement, despite just six goals in 89 NHL games to date and zero points in six playoff games last spring? Sure other GMs will be interested in Drouin, but they'll be interested in giving compensation based on his current value, which is modest at best. Here's hoping Drouin finds a good map of Syracuse, because he's going to need it.


Craig Custance@CraigCustance: One of the lasting images of covering last season's Stanley Cup finals between the Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks was Drouin in the dressing room the night the Blackhawks clinched, absolutely crushed while sitting in front of his stall, completely overcome with emotion and his head buried in a towel. He wanted to win in the worst possible way. I also remember Drouin's professional responses to reporters earlier in the playoffs when he wasn't playing, which was often. He deferred to the coaching staff. He wasn't going to rock the boat during a playoff run. This trade request doesn't necessarily mesh with the kid we saw during the spring, but as someone pointed out Sunday, there's also an ego in play. That's often the case with high-end players. As Pierre mentioned, Drouin has shown he has a big heart, and it's understandable that he wants to play considering his skill level and the opportunities that those drafted in his spot typically get. If he also wants to win and experience the joy the Blackhawks were experiencing that night in June, he may need to shift his approach.


Joe McDonald@ESPNJoeyMac: Every professional hockey player should ride a bus and spend time in the AHL during the early stages of his career. Plenty of players would have benefited from time in the minors. Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton quickly come to mind, and the same goes for Drouin. The rules should be changed to allow the top teenagers in the game to play in the AHL rather than returning to junior hockey. The salary cap has changed things, and younger players are spending less time, if any, in the minors, and that's where the process is flawed. To learn how to be a pro, these kids should deal with the hard knocks of the minors. There are exceptions, of course, but those exceptions are usually Hall of Fame players. Ride a bus for a season and eat cheesesteaks at 3 a.m. at some rest stop on a highway somewhere. It's those experiences that teach you how to be a pro. If any player refuses that assignment for any reason, he's not worth the chance. Case in point: The Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron was a Calder Trophy candidate his rookie season before the 2004-05 lockout, but he chose to play in the AHL during the work stoppage because he knew it would make him a better player, and look where he is now. Unless you've had incredible success at the NHL level as a teenager or a young 20-something, suck it up and hone your skills in the minors. It will make you a better player, and maybe you'll appreciate the game a little more, because there are countless players before you who have gone that route.


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