Prospect of the Week: November 19, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for November 19, 2013 is … Jonathan Drouin, C/W (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, Canada).

There have been two Jonathan Drouins to play this season: the motivated one and the unmotivated one.

The unmotivated one is one of the Quebec league’s best players, surely worthy of an all-star nod.

The motivated one is simply otherworldly. We’re not quite sure which world that is, but its known for its MVP-level hockey. Actually, Drouin won the Canadian Hockey League MVP last year while playing with top-tier linemates Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche) and Martin Frk (Red Wings) and this year his numbers are better at this point of the season while MacKinnon is in the NHL and Frk the minor pros.

Last year, Drouin was one of only a few Q players to average more than two points per game. This year, he was close with a respectable 16 points in 10 games until Halifax coach Dominique Ducharme had a sit-down meeting with the unmotivated Drouin to talk about his focus and passion (or lack thereof following being cut from the Lightning) and now the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft is well over that two-points-per-game level. The motivated Drouin has averaged more than three points per game in his last seven contests (23 points) for a season total of 39 points (13 goals) in 17 games. That’s good enough for a second-place tie on the league’s scoring table.

This past week, the motivated Drouin had 10 points in three games, including his first hat trick of the season. He was named the league’s First Star of the Week and CHL Player of the Week for his efforts, so we have no choice but to give him his second-straight Bolt Prospect of the Week award, too.

Oh, and on Monday Drouin had three assists as captain in Team QMJHL’s 3-2 win over Team Russia in the CHL-Russia Super Series on Monday.

Rules prevent Drouin from being called-up to Tampa Bay in the prolonged absence of Steven Stamkos, so Lightning fans will have to wait until next fall to see him in the NHL full-time.

In the meantime, it’s okay to marvel at the performance of Drouin – the motivated one.

Don’t expect the other Drouin to show up again anytime soon.

Drouin projects as an elite top-line winger at the NHL level. His playmaking ability and vision are exceptional; his control of the puck, particularly in tight on defenders and goaltenders is mesmerizing. Drouin may not have explosive speed but he’s extremely shifty -- especially quick in his lateral movements -- and still moves up-ice very well. Often knocked for his supposed lack of size, he's got a compact frame at close to 6'0" and 190 pounds that he'll flesh out even more as a pro. Even now, he's strong on the puck and his skating ability makes him difficult for defenders to line up for solid contact.

We rank Drouin as Tampa Bay’s No. 1 prospect ahead of goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy and forward Nikita Kucherov.

2013-2014 Prospect of the Week winners:

November 13: Jonathan Drouin, C/W, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, Canada).
November 4: Nikita Kucherov, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 29: Kristers Gudlevskis, G, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 24: Henri Ikonen, W, (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).
October 16: Nikita Kucherov, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 9: Henri Ikonen, W, (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).
October 1: Andrey Vasilevskiy, G, (Salavat Yulaev, KHL, Russia).
September 24: Adam Erne, W, Tampa Bay (NHL) and Quebec (QMJHL)

*Mike Gallimore contributed to this report.