Tampa Bay Lightning vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced Monday the team has lifted the suspension of forward Jonathan Drouin and that he would be reporting to the AHL's Syracuse Crunch on Tuesday.
"I certainly wouldn't exclude that possibility," Yzerman told reporters when asked if Drouin could eventually return to the Lightning roster.
As for the long-term relationship, Yzerman said he's "not going to rule anything out" when asked if things were salvageable between the player and team.
Drouin, 20, has appeared in 19 games for the Lightning this season, scoring two goals and adding six assists. He was the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft and played in 70 games during his rookie season last year, accumulating four goals and 28 assists.
But Drouin was suspended indefinitely without pay Jan. 20 after failing to show up to a game for Syracuse. His agent, Allan Walsh, released a statement after that suspension, per Gino Reda of TSN:
Gino Reda @GinoRedaTSN
Statement from Allan Walsh Re: Jonathon Drouin's suspension https://t.co/xD4B7h3Az12016-1-21 00:25:11
Drouin's return to action may end what has been a long and ugly saga between the player and the Lightning this season. Drouin initially requested a trade from the organization back in November and has struggled with injuries this season, prompting his demotion to Syracuse in the first place.
The Lightning, meanwhile, have fared well in his absence and are tied for second in the Eastern Conference with 82 points.
With the possibility of a trade no longer an option this season, Drouin now has the chance to work his way back up to the Lightning. What remains less clear is if the player has a long-term future with the organization after the events of this season.
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