With the third pick in the 2013 NHL draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning selected play-making forward Jonathan Drouin.
The Colorado Avalanche selected center Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads with the first pick and the Florida Panthers took forward Aleksander Barkov from the Finnish Elite League with the second pick.
While many had Seth Jones as their number one player, Drouin topped the Lightning’s list. Drouin is the best stickhandling forward in the NHL draft. His favorite player is the Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk and it’s easy to see the resemblance in his play.
Most scouts have compared Drouin to Chicago Blackhawks Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Patrick Kane.
Drouin, 18, skated in 49 games with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season, registering 41 goals and 105 points to go along with 32 penalty minutes. He ranked first on the Mooseheads in goals, assists (64), points and shorthanded goals with four. The Ste-Agathe, Quebec native also led all Moosehead forwards with a plus-48 rating during the regular season. He ranked second in the QMJHL in points, third in assists and ranked tied for seventh for goals. Drouin also skated in 17 playoff games, recording 12 goals and 35 points with 14 penalty minutes. He helped the Mooseheads win the Memorial Cup, recording five assists in the championship game against the Portland Winterhawks.
Drouin was named as the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year and was the QMJHL’s Michel Briere winner as the most valuable player. He was also named the QMJHL First All-Star Team, won the Michael Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL’s top draft prospect and was the QMJHL’s Playoff MVP.
The 5-foot-11, 176-pound forward has skated in 82 career QMJHL games, all with Halifax, notching 48 goals and 134 points to go along with a plus-43 rating. Drouin has also played in 34 career playoff games, tallying 21 goals and 61 points to go along with a plus-28 rating.
Drouin skated in six games with Team Canada at the 2013 IIHF Junior World U-20 Championships in Ufa, Russia, recording two goals and four points in six games.
Elite Prospects says of Drouin:
“An agile forward, Drouin is very creative and a good skater. He is an extremely offensive player with fantastic hands and excellent on-ice-vision. Drouin has a good shot but is best used as a playmaker and is very dangerous on the powerplay. Drouin is not a large player or an explosive skater, but he is very agile and able to play his way out of tight spots thanks to his hockey sense.”
Lightning Director of Amateur Scouting Al Murray on Drouin:
“He’s got a lot of confidence in his own ability, but he might be as good as a playmaker as there ever is in the Draft. Like Martin St. Louis, he could be one of those playmaking wingers who can see a center and move the puck to somebody who is open at the appropriate time. That makes him very dangerous on the power play and his one-on-one skills are pretty impressive. If you play him too tight, he can take the puck and embarrass you.”
Our own Prospect Correspondent, Alex Muscat says many had Drouin at the top of their list:
“No player’s stock has skyrocketed more over the last couple of years than Drouin. After tearing up the QMAAA with 53 points in just 22 games for Lac St. Louis, the Mooseheads made room for Drouin, who adapted very well in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), scoring seven goals and accumulating 29 points in 33 games during the 2011-12 campaign.
In his first full season in the “Q”, Drouin finished second in league scoring with 110 points (41 goals, 64 assists) in only 49 games. Drouin even made the cut for Team Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championships, which is impressive for a 17-year old who was one of the team’s best players. This dynamic forward has been ranked higher than MacKinnon and some scouts had Drouin at the top of the board as the number one prospect in this year’s draft.”
Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus says of Drouin:
“Drouin is special offensive talent, with upside through the roof—a prototypical elite, puck possession forward. Drouin has unique puck skills, with the ability to show consistent offensive creativity. He naturally generated highlight reel scoring chances on a regular basis for the Mooseheads, and his ability to make plays in tight spaces is second to none. What separates Drouin, though, are his hands, and his tremendous ability to think the game. He has elite vision and offensive hockey sense, which allow him to dictate the offense. If defenders try to man him up one-on-one, he will find a way to lose the check. If they double him, he can make incredible passes to set up scoring chances. Although he possesses just good top-gear speed, he is a top-notch skater with a high level of shiftiness to his game. His agility and his puck skills make him a nightmare to check in open ice. That said, Drouin can be a liability when the game turns physical. He is a tad undersized, and his strength level needs to be improved in order to be effective in pro-level board battles. Drouin was given top line duties at the recent World Juniors, which is a rare feat for a Canadian 17-year-old, especially given the availability of talent at that tournament due to the lockout.”
With Drouin in the mix it is likely that the Bolts will trade a prospect forward for a defenseman in the coming days.
About the Author: WB Philp is a published hockey writer who has a built in disdain for Barry Melrose. He covered the Detroit sports teams for many years until he came to his senses and moved to the Sunshine State. He is a true puckhead on a mission from God (Gordie Howe) to make hockey relevant in the south. He lives in Hockey Bay USA and covers the Lightning full time. Did I mention he hates Barry Melrose?