Vancouver Canucks: Why They Should Target Jonathan Drouin

Jun 6, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) works out prior to the game two of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) works out prior to the game two of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin’s agent formally requested a trade, which should not be ignored by the Vancouver Canucks. Drouin is a player who could help the franchise now as well as in the future.

Going into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the race for first overall was a head-to-head race between Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. Come draft day, Aleksander Barkov snuck into the top three being selected second overall by the Florida Panthers, but the other three took the remaining top-four spots. Two and a half years later, MacKinnon, Barkov and Jones are star players for their respective teams, but Drouin is struggling and wants to leave.

For most franchises, top prospects are totally untouchable players. As Lightning GM Steve Yzerman notes, he also has no intentions to part ways with Drouin.

Acting in the club’s best interest should certainly mean that Drouin is staying in Tampa, as he is one of the Lightning’s most talented players. Unfortunate for the Lightning, however, is the fact that Drouin seems to see things differently. The way he sees it, he is the player with the second-fewest games played among 2013 top-10 draft picks and the only one who does not own a big role with his club — while thinking he should.

Whatever the actual reason for Drouin’s trade request might be, the Vancouver Canucks should definitely take a look at him.

Drouin is a 20-year-old winger who recorded 242 points in 182 games for the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads. In the NHL, Drouin sits at 40 points in 89 games. Not much compared to former Mooseheads teammate Nathan MacKinnon‘s 134 points in 185 contests, but a lot considering Drouin’s ice time.

The Lightning forward has recorded 1.64 points per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 time, which is only slightly below MacKinnon’s 1.77. Furthermore, his 1.64 points per 60 rank first among Tampa Bay players with 10 or more games played.

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Both Drouin’s possession numbers and production rate suggest he is at least second-line material already. He is an extremely creative offensive player with outstanding vision and passing skill, making him an excellent playmaker the Canucks could use to improve their secondary scoring.

The one big issue is Drouin’s trade value.

A third overall draft pick with obvious potential, Drouin will not come cheap for anyone who may try to pull off a trade. One could argue that he is no more than a talented minor league forward right now and that his production reminds of Sven Baertschi (101 games, 41 points) more than a top-three draft pick’s, but the Lightning probably would not care. Tampa Bay has no reason to give one of their best prospects away for cheap — after all, it is Drouin who wants to leave while the club wants to keep him.

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The Lightning is under no pressure whatsoever. Drouin is still under contract and he will be a restricted free agent when his contract expires in the summer of 2017. If another team wants him, they will have to give up something major in return.

In other words, the Chris Higgins and Hunter Shinkaruk for Drouin proposal — which seems to be popular around social media — will not cut it. Tampa Bay, about every scout in the world, every other team in the league and every hockey fan still believes that Drouin will become a star in the league. The Lightning needs Higgins about as much as the Canucks do, and Shinkaruk is not as talented as Drouin. It is that simple — or complicated, whichever way you want to put it.

If Benning calls Yzerman, talks will likely start with one of Vancouver’s “untradeable” youngsters, including Jake Virtanen, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat and Jared McCann. Now here comes the scoop: the Canucks should try anyway.

Virtanen, Horvat and McCann are all Canucks regulars, but one could argue that their ceiling is lower than Drouin’s. It would be a gamble, that is for sure. But it is one that might be well worth it.

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If Benning could find a way to keep Virtanen, Boeser, Horvat and McCann in Vancouver and still get Drouin, that would be great. If he had to give up Virtanen or one of the other three, that could still be great. It all depends on what the deal looks like outside of Drouin and Vancouver’s big piece.

Only one thing is clear: the Vancouver Canucks should explore their possibilities and try to get Drouin to Vancouver. Drouin could help the club’s secondary scoring right now and become a leader on the ice for many years.

*Stats via