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Lightning's Drouin: Time will tell if trade request was right call

After the trade deadline, Jonathan Drouin called Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and said he wanted to return to hockey. Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports

The first step was picking up the phone last week and calling Steve Yzerman.

That took gumption.

The next step will be going out on the ice on Friday night with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch and reminding the hockey world of his all-world talents; and then doing the same in every game after that for the next month of the schedule.

Whatever ends up happening, that will take care of the next few steps for Jonathan Drouin.

Once the NHL trade deadline came and went Feb. 29 without Drouin's trade request being met, sitting at home in the Montreal area served the 20-year-old forward absolutely nothing.

So he made the right call by making the call.

"I just picked up the phone and called Steve, made sure he was all right with my decision," Drouin said Wednesday of his call to the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager. "He agreed, both of us, for me to just come back, play hockey and move on. I don't want to deal with that stuff during my time in Syracuse either, so we'll go from there until the summer comes."

Which leads to the next very obvious question at this stage: Given the decision to come back and play, does his trade request to the Lightning remain on the table?

"Right now I'm just going to play hockey for the Crunch," Drouin responded in a phone interview with ESPN.com. "We'll deal with that stuff this summer. So I can't really tell you now. I'm just going to deal with that stuff when the summer comes around."

It's an evasive answer, although I believe what he's saying is he just doesn't want to talk about that while the season is still ongoing. So I think we're left to assume the trade request remains active until told otherwise.

Drouin has taken a hit from many around the game for asking for a trade so early in his NHL career. I certainly didn't agree with his trade demand. I think he should have waited at least through his three-year, entry-level deal to make that kind of determination about an organization.

But what I will say and have said numerous times is that I respect the conviction it took to take that stand in the NHL. You don't see that every day.

Now, will other NHL teams see that as a red flag or a sign of courage by a young man?

It didn't work; he wasn't dealt by Feb. 29, but at least Drouin can say he stood by his gutsy decision to ask for a trade.

"Yeah definitely, but maybe looking back in a couple of years, was it the right decision? I don't know," Drouin said. "Time will tell. Right now, it's hard to say if I did the right thing or not. Right now, I was missing hockey, I want to play hockey, I want to get back to my routine and just playing the game. Definitely happy I'm back."

There's pure elation in just being back in that routine, on the ice with the Crunch.

"Yeah, definitely, it's been great this week just being back and playing hockey," said Drouin, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft. "The guys are great here. I've always had fun when I've been down here last year and even this year. I'm just happy to be back playing hockey."

Earlier this week, Yzerman told Tampa media that he wouldn't close any doors when asked if it was possible for Drouin to get called up.

I asked Drouin if that very subject came up during his chat with the Lightning GM last week.

"A little bit," Drouin said. "But, I would have to be playing really well to get called up. I know that. If it happens, it happens. It's out of my control. All I can do really is play hockey, get back to the way I was playing before. And if they call me up, they call me up. But let's start by playing hockey first."

Indeed.