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Lightning suspend Jonathan Drouin; agent says trade best for all

The Tampa Bay Lightning have suspended disgruntled forward Jonathan Drouin without pay after he refused to report for a game Wednesday night between the Syracuse Crunch, the team's American Hockey League affiliate, and the Toronto Marlies.

Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman made the announcement via a news release Wednesday evening and said the team would make no further comment on the situation.

However, Drouin's agent, Allan Walsh, said in a statement that the Lightning had told Drouin they were nearing a trade involving him and that Drouin asked to sit out games to avoid an injury that could derail the trade. The team refused his request, so Drouin opted to not report, Walsh said.

"In light of the latest developments, it is clearly in both sides' best interests that the Tampa Bay Lightning trade Jonathan as there is no reason for Jonathan to continue with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization in any capacity," Walsh said.

The No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, Drouin, 20, has not developed as expected as a top-end prospect. After scoring just twice and adding six assists in 19 games with Tampa Bay this season, he was sent to the team's AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Walsh had first asked for a trade for his client in November, but the demotion led to a public demand by Drouin and his agent to be moved.

Drouin has two goals and an assist in seven games with the Syracuse Crunch this season.

He has just six career goals in 89 NHL games.

A large number of NHL teams have inquired about acquiring Drouin, who was a prolific scorer in junior hockey while playing in Halifax, but Yzerman has said he is focused on only the best interests of the hockey club, which suggests he will not be forced into making a trade that does not bring back a player in the same age bracket and with similar upside.

The NHL's trade deadline is Feb. 29.