New Jersey Devils Chances With Jonathan Drouin

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite exceeding expectations and compiling a 20-14-5 record as we near the midway point of the 2015-16 season, the New Jersey Devils are far from a finished product.

If the Devils want to consider themselves a legitimate playoff contender GM Ray Shero will need to complete their rebuild by adding a number of different pieces, most notably a top-six forward to play alongside Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique.

Even though the Devils can certainly look to add a veteran rental player close to the NHL Trade Deadline to bolster their roster before going on a playoff run, that won’t likely be the case. Ray Shero has remained adamant that he’s taking a long-term approach to rebuilding ‘Jersey’s Team.’

That said, if Shero ever pulls the trigger on a trade to bring an impact player into New Jersey it’ll most likely be for a young star forward that comes with team control.

One name that comes to mind is 20-year old left-winger Jonathan Drouin who has likely played his last game as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s no secret that it’s been a bumpy road for Drouin and Tampa Bay ever since the Lightning drafted him third overall in 2013 NHL Draft, and the bumpy road might have finally came to an end on Sunday when Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh confronted the Lightning front office by demanding that his client be traded.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman addressed the statement from Allan Walsh, saying;

"“We acknowledge, via communication from his agent, Jonathan Drouin’s request to be traded. Moving forward, my sole intention is to act in the best interest of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club. In the meantime, Jonathan has been assigned to our American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, and we expect him to report for practice with the rest of his teammates this Tuesday morning.”"

Though things haven’t quite worked out for Drouin over in Tampa, who’s to say he won’t benefit from a change of scenery? Look what happened this season with the Devils and Kyle Palmieri. When he was a member of the Ducks, Palmeri’s playing time was limited because Anaheim had a very crowded top six that included the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler just to name a few. In New Jersey Palmieri is averaging a career high 16:49 time on ice and has already seen career highs in goals (17), shooting percentage (17.5%) and power play points (13) without even recording a full season in New Jersey just yet!

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Drouin is in the same situation in Tampa with guys like Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn and company constantly competing for playing time day in and day out.

If the Devils think they can take the same risk on Jonathan Drouin and see a spike in his stats with an increase in playing time than it might be a good idea for the two sides to try and work out a deal.

Drouin made a name for himself when he scored 29 goals and tallied 108 points for the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL prior to being drafted in 2013. He’s known around the league for his flashy skill set and above average offensive abilities. He’s also in just the second season of his three-year, entry-level contract that carries a team friendly $894,167 cap hit.

Not only would he potentially increase the Devils offensive production, which ranks an unimpressive 27th in the NHL in goals per game, but Drouin might also be a legitimate left winger for the Devils for years to come. Currently the New Jersey Devils left wing depth-chart consist of the oft-inured 39-year old Patrick Elias, the aging Mike Cammalleri, Tuomo Ruutu and Stefan Matteau. While Matteau has shown some promise, the Devils haven’t had a ‘go-to’ left winger since the days of Zach Parise.

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The Devils have some intriguing young defenseman to dangle, over $9 million in cap space.

What do you think Devils fans? Is Jonathan Drouin the answer? Let us know in the comments below.