Tampa Bay’s third overall draft pick, Jonathan Drouin, may be the catalyst to return the Bolts to playoff competition.
With Vincent Lecavalier gone and Martin St. Louis sure to eventually show signs of aging, the faces of the team are rapidly changing.
A young Drouin along with Steven Stamkos, who is in his most productive years, are the players to build a team around.
Some pre-season pundits foresee Drouin on the Bolts’ top line this year, with Stamkos and St. Louis.
Drouin scored a whopping 105 points in 49 games with the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) last season, playing on a line with number one draft pick Nathan MacKinnon.
He then added 35 points in 17 playoff games. These are big numbers in any league.
While MacKinnon was known as the marksman, Drouin was the slick skating playmaker who the scouts recognized for his superior vision on ice and quick hands.
TFR’s Florida correspondent, Alan Greenberg, spoke to Drouin about a few matters:
* PHYSICAL CONDITION:
I feel great; I had a great Summer of working out. I’m ready and training camp should be a good experience.
* PROSPECTS TOURNAMENT:
(Note: Drouin was without a goal, but managed several good attempts as well as a shootout goal. The line of Drouin, Nikita Kucherov and J.T. Brown was very impressive.)
I felt pretty good. Center is not really my main position, but we spoke before the (final) game and made a couple of adjustments and it worked out well. Nikita Kucherov and I had a lot of chemistry.
* ON MAKING THE TEAM:
I’ll do what I can to try to get a spot on the Lightning. We’ll see what happens. The guys are bigger but I’ll get used to it. It’s something to adjust to but I think I’ll be fine with that.
*WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS:
It was a great experience for myself, to go there as a 17-year-old. That’s pretty rare. We didn’t get the results we wanted but the experience was great.
This year’s NHL trend among the early picks seems to be to encourage their immediate NHL deployment. This is not always a wise decision in the long run but their respective teams need all the help they can muster.
Drouin’s training camp performance will render the first clues as to how well he will do with NHL level competition.
The unknowns will be how his slender build will adjust to NHL toughness and how he will function on a line with someone other than the top pair in the league, as was the case when he was playing with Nathan MacKinnon.