Steve Yzerman would like to deal Jonathan Drouin 'sooner than later'

Steve Yzerman would like to deal Jonathan Drouin 'sooner than later'

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he would like to trade suspended winger Jonathan Drouin “sooner than later.”

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Yzerman said “it would be better for everyone” if he could ship off Drouin before Monday’s trade deadline.

Drouin has been suspended since Jan. 20 for failure to report to the team’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh released a statement saying his client wouldn’t play until he was traded.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie recently said “maybe the finish line is in sight.” McKenzie added that around 10 teams are interested in dealing for Drouin.

Said Yzerman:

"A lot of things factor into it when making the trade, a lot of things to consider here. But number one is, 'Can I do something involving Jonathan that benefits the team that makes us better right now that helps us for the playoffs? I'd certainly like to do that."

According to the story, salary cap space remains an obstacle in dealing Drouin. The Lightning have about $1.5 million in salary cap space and Drouin’s contract carries a $894,166 salary cap hit. Any deal involving Drouin would likely involve a return of a player with a higher salary cap hit. This means another salary would have to be moved.

Yzerman addressed this issue:

"It's not just our salary cap, it's the team that you're trying to make a deal with salary cap too," Yzerman said. "That's what everybody doesn't really understand. When trying to make a deal involving players and contracts, it's got to work for both teams. It's not just mine. It proves challenging for everyone."

There’s pressure on Yzerman for this season, since his team has yet to re-sign captain, leading goal scorer, and pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos.

In mid-February, Yzerman said he would not trade Stamkos. The Tampa Bay Times asked Yzerman why he made such a definitive statement.

"Simply myself and Stammer and (agents) Donnie Meehan and Mark Guy talked about it and the reality is he's not going to be traded. The sooner we said that, it could end all the speculation and Stammer doesn't have to answer that question everyday, and I think that just makes his life a little easier on a day to day basis. It limits the distractions and he doesn't have to deal with it everyday. There was a lot of potential speculation on something that wasn't going to happen.”

The Lightning made the Stanley Cup Final a year ago. After four straight wins, Tampa has 72 points, three behind the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!