Halifax Mooseheads star player Jonathan Drouin is landing back in Nova Scotia Monday morning to play another season with the Memorial Cup champions.
Drouin was the third draft pick for the NHL this season. But his new team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, has opted to send him back to the Q-league for one more year.
The 18-year-old forward was the CHL player of the year last season, and is credited for helping lead the Mooseheads through their championship year.
Cam Russell, general manager of the Mooseheads, says he had mixed emotions when he found out Drouin was on his way back to the Maritimes.
“We were excited,” Russell said. “But at the same time you feel bad for him. This is an exciting time for him and an emotional time, and a bit of a letdown obviously.”
Drouin will keep his signing bonus, but his three-year multi-million dollar contract will not kick in until he’s played at least 10 games with Tampa Bay.
Russell said they’ll work with Drouin and Tampa Bay to make sure he’s ready for next season.
Meanwhile, fans are thrilled that Drouin is returning to Halifax ice. “I think with him on the ice, it makes the game that much more exciting and that much more appealing to a diehard fan like myself,” said Mick Smith. Smith said he will attend more games after hearing of Drouin’s return.
Drouin will be joining goalie Zach Fucale, who was also sent back after signing with the Montreal Canadians.
Drouin could be back in action with the Moose as soon as Tuesday, when the team takes on Saint John.