When a player's been a missing from the lineup for much of the season, be it for health reasons or contrast with management, playing time is an opportunity to show why you should be getting more ice time and what you can do. Yet there are two tales of hockey players playing time and production, a story of how to and not to show value and handle things professionally.
Former Lightning captain and 1998 #1 overall NHL draft pick Vincent Lecavalier found himself in a spot this season where he was not considered an asset that the Philadelphia Flyers wanted any more. To keep it short and simple, Lecavalier's style was not apt for the Flyers from start to finish on the ice and his production decline in two seasons of play showed it: 37 points in 69 games in 2013-14 was five points more than he scored in 39 games in Tampa in the lockout-shortened 2013 season (just shy of point-per-game pacing). Vinny was further off in 2014-15, managing only 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) in 57 games. This season, the Flyers didn't want to deal with Lecavalier as the team changed coaching and directions, only allowing him to play 7 games total with an average time on ice at 9:28. He never had more than 12:27 in a game when participating and mustered all of one assist in that time.
When the 35 year-old got traded to the Los Angeles Kings earlier this month, it freed Vinny from his jail cell and restored productivity. In 9 games with the Kings so far, Lecavalier has 4 goals and 1 assist. That's half of his goal production from last season in Philly. His time on ice is notable: 12:57 ATOI with 15:31 being the high-mark.
Lecavalier has a career of productivity and there are also plenty of dramas tied to his career as well, yet Vinny always forged ahead and accomplished. That's a stark contrast to where Jonathan Drouin has headed in his brief time as a professional.
Drouin's 3 total points at the AHL level (2 goals, 1 assist) was baffling in a salesmanship aspect, I've already touched on that recently. Other aspects of the game were complimented though - communication on ice, interaction with coaching and playing a responsible game. Yet for a player who got pissed off about being relegated to a responsible game (and honing it), a lack of production at a less challenging level of competition is notable.
It's the ATOI in his time with Tampa Bay this season that lays a touch more blame on Drouin himself on showing he should stay where he wanted to stay in the lineup (or even as a trade asset in the making as his trade request came in November). In his 19 games played with the Lightning, Drouin tallied a total of 2 goals and 6 assists. A 9 game goal scoring drought was helped along, in part, by a lingering injury in November. That being said, Drouin had a 14:07 ATOI with Tampa Bay (his low-water mark being 9:26 and high mark at 17:54)... And he totaled 8 points?
There are both a lot of accusations that can be levied as well as excuses to be made. In each case, it comes back to the player and inspires the capability question. It's potential capability that made Drouin the third overall selection in the 2013 draft and still accompanies him.
Much like Vincent Lecavalier, Drouin could end up thriving under different circumstances and the right guidance from management. At the same time, the Lecavalier production reflects ability remains after a player has peaked in his career. Drouin has yet to truly show what he's capable of at the pro level. It's What has been on display from Drouin in recent days is an aptitude stunted by attitude which all teams interested in him should be wary of.
[Author note: the piece was inspired by Lecavalier's productivity at the 7 game point with Los Angeles - the same number of total games that Drouin played in the AHL. Vinny had 3 goals and 1 assit]