Once again, the National Media and Social Media alike have been riled up about 2013 3rd overall pick Jonathan Drouin and head coach Jon Cooper's unwillingness to use him in the playoffs despite the lack of production from the Lightning's bottom five forwards. I say bottom five because the team's been playing seven defenseman for a while now and have put defenseman Nikita Nesterov on bottle filling duty for most of the game.
Frankly, this is old news and nothing has actually changed. Coach Cooper has decided that Drouin is not ready to play at the level necessary in the Stanley Cup Finals, or the Conference Finals for that matter. We can debate that until we are blue in the face, but the fact is a decision has been made and we're not going to change it.
What has further spiced things up is that some are trying to compare Chicago Blackhawks rookie Teuvo Teravainen to Drouin after; he has come alive in the playoffs. Drouin was better in the regular season, but has been only okay in his playoff appearances. But, I see some very big differences between the two players and where they are in their careers right now.
Drouin is almost six months younger and was drafted a year after Teravainen. Drouin made his major junior debut in 2011-12 with the Halifax Mouseheads. He had a spectacular career in the QMJHL topping 100 points in two seasons and scoring at a 1.89 point per game pace in the regular season. After he was drafted, he spent another year in the Q and then joined the Lightning after a 2 game conditioning stint at the beginning of the 2014-15 season. The Q is well known for producing offensive stars, but often the complaint with those players is that they are not good defenders and often need to learn a lot to succeed in the NHL.
Teravainen, on the other hand, played 52 professional games in 2011-12 in Finland. 49 games (9 of those in the playoffs) in Liiga and 3 games in Mestis, Finland's second league. He played another 51 games in 2012-13 and 51 games in 2013-14 before coming to North America after his Liiga season was finished. He added another 8 pro games before the end of the year including 3 in the NHL. 2014-15 was evenly split between the AHL and NHL. He played all right, but not great in the NHL only notching 9 points in 34 games. However, something sparked in the playoffs and he has had 8 points in 13 games.
While Drouin was playing against 16 to 20 year old kids, Teravainen was playing against men. When Drouin debuted for Halifax, Teravainen was already playing in Liiga against men that were being paid to play hockey. The Liiga may not be a Tier 1 league in the World, but it's only a step down from the AHL in terms of talent.
Drouin will be a star, and dare I say a superstar, one day but today is not that day and that day isn't likely coming in the next two weeks either.