As Leafs fans, we’re contractually obligated (it’s written in tears) to speculate on a trade for any name that comes along in the rumour mill. This week’s surprising news of Jonathan Drouin wanting out of Tampa Bay presents some easy material, and as you may have guessed, we’ve already been all over it from a Toronto perspective.
Most people seem to be of the opinion that the Leafs, or any team really, should do whatever they can to take advantage of Yzerman here and pluck Drouin away for dimes on the dollar – the thinking being that leverage goes out the window when a player or the team clearly wants out of the relationship. Tyler Seguin all over again, apparently.
The thing is, for one, Drouin isn’t Seguin, and their situations aren’t really as similar as some have been leading on. Before Seguin was punted from Boston, he’d already posted 121 points in 203 games played as a Bruin, which included a 29-goal season. Drouin has been somewhat impressive with 40 points in 89 games for the Lightning in a limited role, but there isn’t even remotely the same level of security around how he’ll perform going forward. Dallas had a much better picture of what they were getting in Seguin than any team will when it comes to Drouin. That’s not even debatable.
Another thing that sort of sticks out to me when it comes to Drouin is his lack of goal output. He’s only been able to find twine six times through his 89 NHL games, and though it’s well-documented he’s had some poor shooting luck, even going back to his junior days, if you look at his draft-plus-one season without Nathan MacKinnon in Halifax, his goal total took a hit and decreased to 29 from 41 the previous year as a draft-eligible. And it should also be noted his overall production didn’t take a step forward that year either, which is a little concerning. Anthony Mantha, for example, also from the 2013 draft, produced at a similar clip with a much higher goal output, so if QMJHL production is the main thing you’re clinging to as signs he’ll be elite, maybe dial it back a notch.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a Drouin hit piece. He’s going to be a good NHL player, but I just don’t agree with pegging him as a budding elite scorer and offering up the farm to get him. There’s still plenty of risk involved here. To say Drouin is an elite forward who can’t climb beyond the Lightning’s depth at forward to get ice time doesn’t make any sense.
Then there’s the trade package the Leafs would have to offer up. Yzerman doesn’t seem interested in operating from a position of weakness here, and it’s not likely you’re getting Drouin without offering up at least one of Rielly, van Riemsdyk, Marner, or Nylander. Out of that group, JVR is perhaps the only option I’d consider, but even then you’re moving out a 30-30 guy in hopes of maybe getting a 30-30 guy back, and as we’ve noted, it’s hard to say how much offense Drouin can create for himself based on his low goal output. Someone has to score.
So to sum up, Yzerman basically said he understands the request has been made, but he’ll run the team as best he sees fit.
— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) January 3, 2016
Unloading a player like Marner or Nylander would be a lateral move at best, and I’d keep the younger untapped potential of those guys rather than rolling the dice on Drouin, who’s further along and obviously has had a few missteps those other two haven’t. And as far as Rielly goes, the organization is awful enough on the blue line as it is, and I’m of the opinion that potential top pairing defencemen carry a lot more value anyway.
In any trade for Drouin, there’s likely going be a lot of potential-for-potential talk if the Leafs are involved, and given what they currently have in the system, it doesn’t seem like a deal that makes much sense considering the level of risk involved to likely end up shifting around a couple deck chairs.