Jonathan Drouin's expectations high at start of NHL career

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Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin (27) squares off against Edmonton Oilers forward Matt Hendricks (23) during first period NHL hockey action in Edmonton, Alberta, on Monday Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Amber Bracken)
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin (27) squares off against Edmonton Oilers forward Matt Hendricks (23) during first period NHL hockey action in Edmonton, Alberta, on Monday Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Amber Bracken)

The last of the 'Big Four' from the potentially famous 2013 draft made his NHL debut Monday when Jonathan Drouin played his first game for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 3-2 loss at Edmonton. 

That draft, which happened in beautiful Newark, N.J. featured four elite guys between No. 1 pick Nathan MacKinnon, No. 2 pick Aleksander Barkov, Drouin who went at three to the Lightning, and defenseman Seth Jones who went fourth to Nashville

Anyway, Drouin's below highlight reel from that year, and his insanely prolific numbers in junior -- he had 105 points in 49 games in his draft year -- made him an intriguiing prospect. His one issue? He's listed at 5-foot-11. 

Out of the 'Big Four' he was the only player to not make his team out of the draft and sent back to junior where he had 108 points in 46 games with the Halifax Mooseheads. He fractured his right thumb in training camp, and missed the start of the season this year after making the team. 

Last night Drouin was a minus-1 in 16:10 of action with Tampa at Edmonton. Notes Lightning coach Jon Cooper -- one of the top NHL coaching quotes -- to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune

“He comes as advertised,’’ Cooper said. “When he plays with speed, I thought he controlled the game when he had (the puck) on his stick. And for a first offering, I thought it was really good. When you look back, with all the pressure I’m sure he’s had on him for the past few years, that’s a pretty darn good effort. ... I was really happy with him.’’

What are the expectations for him? Last night, per naturalstattrick.com, Drouin's Corsi percentage relative was a negative 5.42.

But to the eyeball test, he showed some solid, and slick, playmaking ability, and had little problem with fending off defenders -- in spite of his size, which is clearly his biggest drawback. 

Either way, Drouin is almost a natural fit to replace former captain Martin St. Louis, who was traded to the Rangers last year after a famed spat with general manager Steve Yzerman. It seems like Drouin can fit that playmaking winger role that St. Louis vacated.