I’m sitting here on Sunday afternoon, watching NFL Redzone for the final time this season, prepping for a massive game tonight as we look to avenge our only loss on the season, rocking my Joe Sakic Nordiques hoodie, and I can’t help but think…I’ve got NOTHING to open this piece with! Seriously, I’m trying to think of something good, and I can’t think of shit. So this is it. Me rambling and ranting about absolutely nothing, where is my Pulitzer?
Has anyone noticed the Tampa Bay Lightning are turning into a bit of a shit show? Martin St.Louis asked for a trade. Steven Stamkos appears to be walking on July 1st. And today came the news that 2013 3rd overall pick Jonathan Drouin has asked for a trade. Those are 3 high profile guys. Only 1 has gone thus far, but the other 2 are likely on their way out. If this happens, that’ll be 3 guys who want nothing to do with a young, Cup contending team playing in the sun belt. Is this not the dream for most players? If this were happening in Edmonton all we would hear about is how disgusting the city is and that nobody wants to be there.
And yet still I don’t see anyone questioning Steve Yzerman. I get it, how can you not LOVE Stevie Y?! The guy is a legend, one of the greatest leaders in the history of the game. But let’s be honest…the guy hasn’t done too good of a job.
I know that seems asinine to say. When he took over they were in complete shambles coming off the embarrassment that was the Len Barrie/Oren Koules ownership. But this is the LEASTern conference they’re playing in. We have seen teams go from the bottom to the top of the conference quite a bit in the last few seasons. They’re coming off a trip to the final just last spring. Going through Detroit, Montreal and the Rangers however isn’t like going through say San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago like the Kings did in 2014.
It isn’t as if there haven’t been really good moves. He signed Tyler Johnson, he did the Ben Bishop deal, the trade he made when St.Louis asked out was tremendous considering the spot he was put in (although it could be argued he then ruined it by giving Ryan Callahan that horrific extension). But he inherited Stamkos and Hedman, he’s really just signed a lot of UFA’s which isn’t all that difficult when you have Stamkos, Hedman and the Florida sun to recruit players. What really baffles me is his track record in the 1st round of the draft.
I brought this up when I wrote about how he needed to deal Stamkos before the season began. Since Yzerman took over in 2010, they took Brett Connolly over Cam Fowler. Took Slater Koekkoek over Filip Forsberg. Took Jonathan Drouin over Seth Jones. We aren’t talking about hindsight being 20/20 here. These are not only perfect fits for what the Lightning needed, but best players available in that moment that they’re passing on. They’ve had some good success in the later rounds, but it is bizarre what they’ve done.
But I honestly wonder when the questions will start coming about Yzerman. Reason being, the NHL/hockey media maybe more than other sports are pretty soft on guys they like. As an Oilers fan I know I was always asking the question as to why Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish weren’t ever questioned. I’ve harped on Jim Rutherford on here a lot recently, and he is another guy who is beloved in the hockey community. And I’m one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, even if I don’t act like it when writing or on twitter. But I also call it as I see it. Steve Yzerman, as good as some of it looks, he just hasn’t done that good of a job.
I have to be fair though too. This particular situation seems to be more on Drouin than Yzerman. Allan Walsh is Drouin’s agent and has always come off as an ass quite frankly. You get the sense that the Lightning are trying to make Drouin earn his spot on the team and Drouin just doesn’t want to do that. They seemingly tried to do the same with Brett Connolly and had similar results. You can’t really pin that line of thinking on Yzerman or anyone in the Tampa organization. But in his media release, Walsh all but pinned everything on Yzerman.
When it’s happening ESSENTIALLY for the 3rd time, something is wrong.
As for where Drouin will end up, who knows. He still has a year left on his ELC, so 29 teams will have interest if the price is right. I’m sure the Habs would love to add a francophone kid who still has star potential. But that would be an in division trade and I’m sure the Lightning don’t want to do that. The Flames might be able to put together a pretty good package for him, and Drouin paired with Bennett to go with Monahan and Gaudreau moving forward could be pretty scary to deal with. Then again, my view on the Flames is they need to get bigger up front. Don’t think Patrick Roy wouldn’t be interested in putting MacKinnon and Drouin back together. A disappointment for disappointment deal might make sense in the Oilers sending Yakupov for Drouin, and Peter Chiarelli does have a relationship with Yzerman. The Ducks could use a jolt up front and maybe Drouin could provide it. Lots of scenarios.
GM’s have done much worse than Yzerman is doing right now, but things should be SO much better than they are right now in Tampa and they just aren’t. If Stamkos isn’t traded and then walks, and the return for Drouin is insignificant, things could get dicey for Stevie Y.
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