Jonathan Drouin, I'm sure that you've heard, would like out of Tampa Bay, and Elliotte Friedman thinks that the Blues want him the most.. Ryan Lambert over at Puck Daddy has a great breakdown of Drouin's (possible) reasoning behind his desire to be traded - utilization, honestly - and some number crunching to show that despite his mediocre at best stats line Drouin may be a decent player with a great deal of upside.
From Lambert's piece:
Drouin is producing at an insane rate relative to his usage. Gets more points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 than Steven Stamkos but is playing as much as Cedric Paquette. There is an inherent disconnect there, and it's not as though he's getting badly out-possessed or anything like that. Yeah, the goals number is really troubling but — and this is going to shock you — is 3.8 percent. How many more games do you think a guy with his talent level shoots 3.8 percent?
Frankly, these numbers, and plenty of others suggest that Drouin deserves a larger role than "being assigned to the AHL" Just as a frame of reference, the average NHL player with 2.0 points per 60 minutes is typically going to be on your first line; that's a forward getting about 13.5 minutes a night for about 75 games, and scoring 35 or more points at 5-on-5.
It should therefore not shock you even a little bit to learn that 31 of Drouin's 40 career points have come at 5-on-5. And given how he's used in those situations, it should further come as no surprise that Drouin isn't exactly pulling a lot of power play time. He's eight among Tampa forwards in PP minutes per game over the last two seasons. He gets almost 50 seconds per night fewer than Ryan freakin' Callahan. The mind boggles.
Lambert concedes that Tampa doesn't have an option to slot him in the top six considering how the Lightning's top two lines are constructed. The Blues have a glut on left wing. Steen, Fabbri, Berglund, and Jaskin are all projected to start on LW tonight against the Ducks. Unless one of those pieces goes to Tampa Bay in a deal, do you pick one of those guys to shift to RW? What do you do with Brouwer and Paajarvi, Hitch's two current square pegs in round holes, assuming they're not included in a deal?
Going from Jon Cooper to Ken Hitchcock would be an interesting scenario for Drouin. He's a former third overall pick with offensive potential. What happens if he winds up taking Jaskin's spot on the fourth line?
He'll turn into the new Dmitrij Jaskin, with people complaining how he can't score and isn't developing.
Perhaps this is my cynicism showing here regarding player usage and Ken Hitchcock. This team needs scoring in a bad way, especially late in games and in extra time, so let's consistently not put Robby Fabbri out during overtime. Solution found. That kind of sound judgement isn't going to allow Drouin to show whatever ability that may (or may not) be stifled in Tampa Bay. If the Blues trade for him, is there any assurance that he'll be used in a scoring role, or will he go the way of other young forwards during Hitchcock's tenure who have been touted as having a scoring touch?