Hockey Night in Canada

Jonathan Drouin shows well in NHL debut with Lightning

Tampa Bay prospect Jonathan Drouin turned in a solid performance in a 3-2 loss to the hometown Edmonton Oilers on Monday night. He played 16 minutes 10 seconds and impressed Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

Forward prospect plays 16:10 in 3-2 loss to Oilers

Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, left, squares off against Oilers forward Matt Hendricks during the first period in Edmonton on Monday night. Drouin played 16 minutes 10 seconds in his NHL debut, a 3-2 loss. (Amber Bracken/Canadian Press)

Jonathan Drouin can’t look back at his NHL debut Monday night and point to a game-winning goal, beautiful pass that led to an assist or highlight-reel play.

Still, the 19-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning prospect turned in a solid performance in a 3-2 loss to the hometown Edmonton Oilers.

Drouin, who was on a conditioning assignment with Syracuse of the American Hockey League on the weekend after breaking his thumb during the Lightning’s training camp, wasn’t in Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper’s initial lineup Monday but an upper-body injury sustained by forward Alex Killorn during the morning skate pressed Drouin into action.

The third overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft played 16 minutes 10 seconds and posted decent statistics:

  • One shot
  • One blocked shot
  • One giveaway
  • Two takeaways
  • Minus-1 rating

“I felt pretty good about my game,” said Drouin, who scored 29 goals and 108 points in 46 games with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. “It was exciting. … I just wish we had a better outcome.

“I made some plays with the puck and created a couple of things. It was a good first game for mem, but I still have a lot of work to do.”

Cooper said Drouin, a pre-season favourite of many for NHL rookie of the year honours who soon could be skating regularly alongside Steven Stamkos on the Lightning’s top line, comes as advertised.

“When he plays with speed, I thought he controlled the game when he had [the puck] on his stick,” said Cooper of Drouin, a native of Ste-Agathe, Que. “For a first outing, I thought it was really good.”

Drouin won’t have time to dwell on his NHL debut as Tampa Bay visits the Flames in Calgary on Tuesday.

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