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Senators Shouldn't Let Latest Debacle Affect Interest in Drouin

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The Jonathan Drouin controversy continues to shock the hockey world, but that doesn't mean GM's should shy away from acquiring him.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As you're reading this article, it's very possible Steve Yzerman and a fellow NHL general manager are signing the necessary documents for a trade and preparing to make the official phone call to the league in order to finalize their agreement.

And if the above is correct, then it's extremely likely the trade includes Jonathan Drouin.

Because just minutes before the Syracuse Crunch were about to step onto the ice in Toronto for their game against the Marlies last night, the following was reported.

And it was followed closely by a statement made by Drouin's agent, Allan Walsh.

There's quite a bit to digest, but the essentials are that the Drouin camp requested a trade, the Lightning got closer to a deal, the Drouin camp requested he not play in fear of an injury affecting the trade and the Lightning denied said request.

Now we're at a point where it's assumed that the 20-year-old will never play another game within the Lightning organization, and further, will not participate in any team activity until a trade has been made.

Things certainly have gone downhill rather quickly.

When looking at Drouin's position in this fiasco, it would be easy for one to presume there's an attitude problem present or that he's handled the situation poorly. To be fair, this is about a 3rd overall pick one year removed from his rookie season demanding a trade and holding out until one has been completed.

But you also have to factor in his agent's aggressive measures in this mess.

From analyzing his statement, and his remarks and actions before for that matter, Walsh seems to be the orchestrator of the chaos, and at absolute least he is playing an impactful role in Drouin's decision to go forth and cut ties with the Lightning. This situation could very likely just be a young player following everything his agent tells him to do.

But even if there is an attitude problem, the Senators, or any team, shouldn't let that affect their interest in acquiring an extraordinary talent.

Because that's exactly what he is. An outrageously skilled, offensively gifted hockey player.

Those plays didn't happen almost every game, they happened almost every shift.

I've seen my fair share of Halifax Mooseheads hockey in the past few years. Whether it was making a quick trip to Gatineau to catch the Mooseheads and the Olympiques, or watching a couple games on numerous weekend trips to my hometown in Nova Scotia's capital city, I was in awe every single time I witnessed Drouin live.

I've gone on record to say this before, but I'll reiterate it more clearly.

Jonathan Drouin's puck-handling skills and ability to see a play unfold before it even happens - hockey IQ, you could say - are unlike anything I've ever seen in a player of his stature, and with the right environment, could turn him into a top 30 player in the NHL over only the next few years.

In separate years, Drouin stood out as arguably the top player on a junior team that featured Nathan MacKinnon, and later on, Nikolaj Ehlers. MacKinnon and Ehlers are currently regulars on their respective NHL teams.

Drouin isn't having a great start to his professional career, that's obvious. But you also have to understand that he's not getting the opportunity many thought he would get early on.

Last season, Drouin finished with a satisfactory 32 points in 70 games, but was sixth on the team in points per 60 since he was only playing 13 minutes every night. This year, the Lightning have hardly given him a chance to get in a groove, holding him to 19 games.

In both of his final two seasons in the QMJHL, the Ste-Agathe native played under 50 games. In both seasons he recorded over 104 points.

Even if this whole catastrophe was Drouin's true colours shining through, or even if he was going to be a problem in the locker room, you can teach a player be less of a PR nightmare and influence his future decisions and handling of inconvenient situations.

But you can't teach talent. You can't teach the amount of sheer skill Drouin possesses.

In the wise words of Patrick O'Sullivan, and likely many before him, you either have it, or you don't.