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Jonathan Drouin out 3-4 weeks with thumb fracture

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It's not a crisis, but the highly touted forward's NHL debut is delayed.

Jonathan Garcia

The hype surrounding Jonathan Drouin has been bubbling before the NHL season has arrived in some of the same fashion that the hype was at a torrid pace long before even the NHL preseason arrived.  Drouin, the #3 draft pick of 2013's NHL entry draft, has had a very high bar to reach in the league before he even made the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Last season, he failed to make the club because of franchise depth. Now, at this moment, Jonathan Drouin's NHL debut is once again delayed at least until the middle of October.  It was reported this morning that Drouin has a fracture in his thumb and will be out for 3-4 weeks. This news comes after the team played down the proverbial "upper body injury" as something minor in recent days. Drouin was going to miss this week of preseason games but was expected back next week.

This isn't a crisis or anything but this does change a dynamic of the Lightning roster going in to the season.  There had been questions of where Drouin would play and who would be forced out because of Drouin in the lineup. Even with a minor dent, that gives some breathing room for a player like Nikita Kucherov to make the club (not that he was incapable of it - it's just the fact he was the only forward of note with AHL options that did not require him to pass through waivers).

It does create the head-scratching question of how comfortable the Bolts will be giving Drouin his preseason during the season. His estimated recovery time would put his return (and potential NHL debut) during Tampa Bay's western Canada spin in mid October. It'd be a rather noteworthy spectacle if he makes his NHL debut against the Calgary Flames on October 21st, who are carrying a 2015 Calder Award candidate in Johnny Gaudreau.