If Jonathan Drouin is on the market, what factors in to moving him?
There are a couple of different aspects to keep in mind with the notion Jonathan Drouin has requested a trade out of Tampa... Little things that will factor in to where he lands and with who (if anyone) he goes their with.
So, Allan Walsh makes it public that he wants a "for sale" sign dangled from Jonathan Drouin's neck and he's wanted it since November. If it's been put into place by Steve Yzerman since then isn't known but at this point in time, now that Walsh has crowed to the right public sources (read: the media), the "for sale" sign is there. It doesn't mean Steve Yzerman has to trade Drouin; he's still on his entry-level contract and the Lightning retains his rights. Not wanting to play in Tampa Bay any more does not ensure his trade. That makes refusing to play and Europe his first option of escape. I don't expect Yzerman to just sit on Drouin like that (not unless making peace is his commitment), but I also don't think that lane of escape is something Allan Walsh intended by going public. I digress on this train of thought.
So... If Drouin is indeed on the market, and the fact his name is being blasted out as wanting off the Lightning, trying to figure out what the trade market could bring is the next course of action. It's also not exactly clear what Yzerman and the organization would seek as a return for Drouin in a deal.
One variable about any dealings is the NHL salary cap. Tampa Bay has only so much cap room as it stands, and while shedding one contract (Drouin) would be undertaken here, it limits the potential return. It - Drouin's trade - could end up with little direct return by way of an accompanying salary-dump aspect; Drouin gets moved as well as a salary cap stressing contract like Matt Carle or Valtteri Filppula . The indirect value is making it easier to retain players in contract extensions. I know the first name that spring to everyone's mind with that phrase, at the moment, is Steven Stamkos, but I do imply it regardless of Stamkos' future with the club. We've already speculated on the cap future and have discussed several pending RFAs and their likely extensions that will provide cap stress on top of a Stamkos extension.
Then there's the black-flag that set off Sunday's chatter explosion - Allan Walsh. This is not going to be talked about by fans / team blogs who are interested in obtaining Drouin, but certain organizations may prefer to avoid having to deal with Walsh, regardless of what the skill set on the table. That's not going to stop a deal, but it's going to limit the number of clubs who actually enquire about Drouin.
It's from the Tampa Bay angle that this matters most though. It also offers a logistical question: Would you want to keep Drouin in the Eastern Conference or even the Atlantic Division? A healthy return is nice, but having to face talent sent away in a trade is part of why you see certain cross-conference deals go down.
Going on the shed-a-contract deal, seeing Drouin and Carle or Filppula moved should only require a draft pick cache of a return, or possibly a solid near-NHL talent which you've seen this club built on through the development cycle.
It's easier for me to think about these aspects of guides than to think about what the Bolts might seek in a return for Drouin - even if it was a straight-up, one-or-one trade. Heck, the Stamkos contract extension stuff also clouds things up a bit on what to seek in return. A wing to play with Stamkos would be ideal, but you don't even know for a fact (at least not the public) if he's being retained. When you look at a possible return on Drouin, keep in mind the club could very well be moving Stamkos at the deadline depending how things are going with extension talks, where the return (even for a rental) would be more solid than the payday for Jonathan Drouin.
"A solid return" is rather vague as a trade return, but seeing those angles and aspects and knowing those complications are part of the picture... Well, seeking something solid in return for Drouin is preferred. If a club in the East or Atlantic wants Drouin, a higher payout should be sought; an actual upgrade of the existing team instead of just a beefing up the general organization long term.
The "for sale" sign dangles on Drouin, and the bartering and negotiating begins... Just don't read that as "free to a good home," generosity and wishful-thinking isn't how this will play out.