Steven Stamkos would welcome Jonathan Drouin back to Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos isn't ready to give up on Jonathan Drouin, even though the youngster has asked for a trade.

Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, had become frustrated with his limited role with the Lightning and on Saturday was sent to the AHL for more playing time.

"I can certainly attest to coming into the league at a young age and hoping for the best right away and wanting certain things you are accustomed to getting right away, whether you deserve it or whether certain coaches give you a chance right away or sometimes make you earn that," Stamkos said, according to The Tampa Tribune. "Every organization, every coach has a different view on things. You look back on those first two years, if you get through that, and it sucked at the time, but I can speak from experience that it made me a better player and a better person just to know how difficult it is in this league, what you have to do and then sometimes the break that you have to get to be successful.

"When you look back, you know it was for the better. We are all hoping that's the case for [Jonathan]. He's still our teammate, he's still a young kid, he's still our friend and we all hope that he goes down there and lights it up, comes back up here and helps our team because he's that type of player . . . He can make a difference on a nightly basis, so we obviously wish him the best in that regard."

Drouin reported to Syracuse on Tuesday and spoke to the media but repeatedly said he didn't want to comment on his trade request.

"It's between my agent and [Lightning general manager] Steve [Yzerman]," he said, according to Syracuse.com. "The only thing I can do is play hockey here."

Drouin was asked if this is a difficult situation for him.

"Yes and no," he said to the local media. "You obviously want to be up there. But right now it's not my decision. I'm happy to be part of the Syracuse Crunch right now and that's all I can worry about."

Like many rookies, Stamkos saw his ice time go up and down during his first season in 2008-09, but he plugged away and ended up with 23 goals and 23 assists, though he was a minus-13. The next season he led the league with 51 goals.

Drouin's agent issued a statement on Sunday saying that the 20-year-old forward, who had 32 points in 70 games with the Lightning last season, had asked for a trade. Still, Stamkos is ready to welcome Drouin back into the locker room if he works to be a good teammate and improve his game.

"We expect that when guys come into this locker room, they come to the rink every day, they give it their all and do whatever it takes to help our team win," Stamkos told The Tampa Tribune. "That's the expectation, whether you have asked for a trade [or] whatever is bugging you at home. You come to the rink and we are all here to talk to each other, we are all here to help each other and we are all here for one goal, and that's to win hockey games."

Even coach Jon Cooper wouldn't hold the trade request against Drouin.

"Jonathan is a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he was a high draft pick for a reason. We think he can make us a better hockey team," Cooper said, according to the newspaper. "Right now . . . this is to get Jonathan back on top of his game, and that's all this is. So that's the best place for him to do it at this moment, and that's basically what is happening."