Jonathan Drouin is far from the first top-5 pick to hit the market so early

Updated: January 4, 2016 at 1:09 am by Jeff Veillette

Yesterday, word made its way out to the public that Jonathan Drouin had requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Drouin, selected 3rd overall in the 2013 draft, is just 20 years old and is considered by many to be a top-end prospect put in a position where he can’t succeed; one where the depth ahead of him inhibits his chance of playing the high-octane offensive style he became famous for when he scored 289 points in his final 128 games with the Halifax Mooseheads.

It’s a crazy story, leaving many to speculate what Tampa Bay will get in return for him. Interestingly enough, Drouin isn’t anywhere close to being the only top pick to move in the past few years. Here are ten others that you may have forgotten about.

Tyler Seguin

Drafted: 2nd overall, 2010 Entry Draft (Boston Bruins) 

Traded: July 4th, 2013 to Dallas (aged 21)

Post-Draft, Pre-Trade Career: Jumped straight to the NHL. After scoring just 22 points in sheltered age 19 season, followed up with 99 points in his next 129 games. Ended Boston career with 56G, 65A in 203 GP. Had 18 points in 42 playoff appearances, including two Eastern Conference Championships and a Stanley Cup in 2011. Was a +3.0% Corsi-Rel player in three years with a 54.4% offensive zone start ratio, produced similarly positive possession numbers in the playoffs.

Trade Reasoning: Off-Ice reasons. Boston were struggling to stay under the salary cap, and management was unhappy with his unprofessional attitude away from the rink, believing it more sensible to cut him loose than to continue to work through his struggles.

Trade Return: Loui Eriksson, Rielly Smith, Joe Morrow, Matt Fraser (Boston also traded Ryan Button and Rich Peverley).

Seguin is the highest drafted player on this list and also received one of the biggest hauls. His situation is a little different, in the fact that it was glaringly obvious that he was NHL-ready and capable, and signed to a very friendly second contract. Boston had higher priorities than sorting out Seguin’s personal demons and Dallas felt they were in a position to pounce, and made sure nobody else got their man. It worked out well; Seguin is now a superstar on the Stars, who are atop the Western Conference.

Jack Johnson

Drafted: 3rd overall, 2005 Entry Draft (Carolina Hurricanes)

Traded: September 29th, 2006 to Los Angeles (Aged 19)

Post-Draft, Pre-Trade Career: Decided to stay in college. Scored 10 goals and 22 assists in 38 games at the University of Michigan, leading all defencemen and all players in his age range on his team in scoring. Played for the United States at 2006 World Juniors, led team defencemen in scoring with a goal and five assists in seven games. Named to NCAA All-Rookie team and World Junior All-Star team.

Trade Reasoning: Carolina, fresh off of a Stanley Cup win, felt the need to shore up their defense. Originally drafting Johnson for his NHL readiness, they were displeased to hear that he wanted to spend another season at UMichigan. 

Trade Return: Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger (Carolina also traded Oleg Tverdovsky)

The Kings benefitted massively from giving Johnson the year that he wanted. At the conclusion of the season, he decided to turn pro, playing five games with the Kings to close the year before playing a handful of seasons more with the team. They eventually traded him for Jeff Carter, who was the missing piece the team needed to win the 2012 Stanley Cup.

Kyle Turris

Drafted: 3rd overall, 2007 Entry Draft (Phoenix Coyotes) 

Traded: December 17th, 2011 to Ottawa (Aged 22)

Post-Draft, Pre-Trade Career: Turris played a year at the University of Wisconsin, leading the pack with 35 points in 36 games. He was named to the NCAA All-Rookie team for his efforts. He also won gold with Canada in the 2008 World Juniors, scoring 8 points in 7 games. Once he turned pro, he split time between the AHL and NHL, scoring 71 points in 86 games with San Antonio and 46 points in 137 games with the Coyotes. Turris played about 12 minutes a night in Phoenix, but wasn’t sheltered in terms of where on the ice he would be put out. 

Trade Reasoning: After the 2010/11 season, Turris was unhappy with the opportunity that the Coyotes had given him up to that point. As such, he decided to ask for an inflated salary when restricted free agency came around, hoping they would either bite and give him a bigger role or ship him out. After that turned into a holdout, his agent made a public trade request. In late November, the two sides agreed to a two-year contract in an effort to get him on the eyes and in front of teams; within six games, he was picked up by the Sens. 

Trade Return: David Rundblad and 2012 second-round draft pick (traded to Columbus, traded to Philadelphia Flyers, eventually used on Anthony Stolarz).

This wasn’t an overwhelming return; Rundblad was already starting to dip from the “might be good” profile he had in his draft year and the draft pick wasn’t shockingly high. The Coyotes got to end the saga, however, which was most important to them. Turris has proven to be a good addition to the Senators ever since, though not the next Steve Yzerman that some had hoped for.

Benoit Pouliot

Drafted: 4th overall, 2005 Entry Draft (Minnesota Wild)

Traded: November 23rd, 2009 to Montreal (Aged 23)

Post-Draft, Pre-Trade Career: The Wild sent Pouliot back to the Sudbury Wolves, with whom he scored 61 points in 51 games, an improvement on the year before. He was also named to Team Canada for the 2006 World Juniors, where he scored five points and won a Gold Medal. Pouliot spent the next three years bouncing between the AHL and NHL; hardly a logical development path. He scored 84 points in 143 games with the Houston Aeros while contributing 7 goals and 7 assists over 51 games with the Wild. Pouliot played 14 more games with the Wild in 2009/10 before being traded.

Trade Reasoning: The Wild felt that Pouliot would never reach his potential, which, if we’re being honest, was a little over-estimated due to his large size. Unlike the annual NHL-ready power forward that sneaks into the top 15, Pouliot was simply a big boy who used his 6’3 frame to protect the puck from his fellow teenagers. Minnesota saw a slow adjustment and got out when the could.

Trade Return: Guillaume Latendresse

This probably worked out for all parties in the end. Montreal eventually gave up on Pouliot as well; a few teams did, really, but they shook off the constant public speculation regarding Latendresse that became a distraction. He, on that note, was relatively decent with the Wild before heading to Ottawa. As for Pouliot, once teams began accepting him for who he was, became the definition of a reliable 15-minute forward, moving the puck up the ice while pitching in the odd goal or two. Pouliot has 51 points in 89 games since signing a big contract in Edmonton.

Griffin Reinhart

Drafted: 4th overall, 2012 Entry Draft (New York Islanders)

Traded: June 26th, 2015 to Edmonton (Aged 21)

Post-Draft, Pre-Trade Career: Reinhart went back to Junior for the next two seasons, wearing the C for the Edmonton Oil Kings and leading them to a Memorial Cup in 2014 and earning himself WHL Playoff MVP.  He wasn’t overly productive, though; while the hype was always on his two-way game, he wasn’t able to eclipse the 36 points scored in his draft year in either of his following seasons. Reinhart played for Team Canada at the 2013 and 2014 World Juniors, further establishing hs reputation. He only played on year of pro for the Islanders by the end of it, scoring 22 points in 59 games with Bridgeport and picking up a single assist in nine regular-season and playoff games with the big club.

Trade Reasoning: The Islanders managed to skip the line, acquiring Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk to give them immediate help on the blue line. With Reinhart not meeting expectations, and eyes set on Mathew Barzal, the team flipped him for picks at the draft. Not a situation where Reinhart wanted to leave, or the Islanders were distinctly done with him, but something that made sense in the moment.

Trade Return: 2015 first-round draft pick (Mathew Barzal), 2015 second-round draft pick (Mitchell Stephens)

This one’s a little too early to call; a first glance gives the impression that the Oilers gave up more than they needed to for a guy who projects to be the type of player that’s avaible on the free agent market every year. Alas, that’s what happens when this type of player hits the market, but the ball, for once, is in the court of the team getting rid of him. The Islanders were in no rush to make the move, it was convenient at the time, and the Oilers bit.

Nino Niederreiter

Drafted: 5th overall, 2010 NHL Entry Draft (New York Islanders)

Traded: June 30th, 2013 to Minnesota (Aged 20)

Post-Draft, Pre-Trade Career: Niederreiter was sent back to the Winterhawks, where he scored 41 goals and 70 points in 55 games in his final regular season and followed it up with 27 points in 21 games in Portland’s WHL playoff run. He also captained the Swiss World Junior team; overall, the year was a solid experience for him. At this point, Niederreiter had nothing left to prove at the major-junior level, but the Islanders couldn’t send him to Bridgeport. As well, they liked the idea of his high cap hit, created by rookie bonuses they were unlikely to have to pay out, being on the roster so they could hit the cap floor. 

So he was stuck playing 10 minutes a night on an awful line on an awful Islanders roster. He picked up just one goal in 55 games. The next year, now eligible for the AHL, he scored 28 goals and 22 assists with Bridgeport before having a strong World Championship with the Stress, scoring 5 goals and 3 assists in 10 games.

Trade Reasoning: Niederreiter, unhappy with toiling in the minors after getting a full-year taste of the NHL, requested a trade in January. The information was public, causing teams to sit back and wait until Garth Snow’s had was forced.

Trade Return: Cal Clutterbuck, 2013 third-round draft pick (Eamon McAdam)

Possibly the most glaring example of selling low here. Also an argument in favour of letting some U20 players from the CHL jump to the AHL; the Islanders were stuck with two extremes to choose from as a result and got burned by playing him in the NHL. By the time they salvaged things, it was too late. Clutterbuck has been a decent enough role player for them, Neiderreiter, at 23, is easily more effective if you’re in the winning business.

Brayden Schenn

Drafted: 5th overall, 2009 NHL Entry Draft (Los Angeles Kings)

Traded: June 23rd, 2011 to Philadelphia (Aged 19)

Post-Draft, Pre-Trade Career: Schenn went back to Junior for another season, dominating as the captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings with 99 points in 59 games. He also played a decent role on Canada’s World Junior team, scoring 8 points in 6 games. The next year saw him step it up in a big way, though. Los Angeles took their time to bring him to the nine-game mark, sending him back to junior in December, at which point he played two games for the Wheat Kings before heading back to the World Juniors for another year. He dominated the tournament, scoring 18 points in 7 games, leading all players and winning Best Forward and MVP. He was traded to the Saskatoon Blades upon return, where he scored 53 points in 27 games, added 11 in 10 in the playoffs, and then kept a point-per-game pace when playing with the Manchester Monarchs. Basically, he spent very little time with the big club at this point but had destroyed junior for his Draft+1 and Draft+2 years.

Trade Reasoning: The player they wanted Brayden Schenn to become became available, and hitting fast forward made sense for a team that suddenly had a window of opportunity.

Trade Return: Mike Richards, Rob Bordson (Los Angeles also traded Wayne Simmonds and a 2012 second-round pick, which was later traded to Dallas, who used it to select Devin Shore).

This made a lot of sense for the Kings, who had bottomed out for a while, built up an elite prospect pool, and saw an opportunity to “go for it” when the Flyers collapsed upon themselves. Richards eventually flamed out but won them some rings along the way. This wasn’t really a forced move a-la Drouin’s present situation, though; rather just one where a stacked organization flexed their muscles.

Luke Schenn

Drafted: 5th overall, 2008 NHL Entry Draft (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Traded: June 22nd, 2012 to Philadelphia (Aged 22)

Post-Draft, Pre-Trade Career: The Leafs, who admired his ability to throw a big hit and play defensive hockey, decided that Schenn was super, duper NHL ready at 18-years-old. He played 70 games in his first year and was kept from playing in the World Juniors because the team felt he was better served by NHL experience. They had him play at the World Championships instead of finishing his season with the Marlies. Even once he turned twenty, he stayed with the Leafs. In 310 games, Schenn put up 14 goals and 61 assists and played nearly 20 minutes a game despite four consecutive years of bad production and possession numbers on a bad team. After his third year, the Leafs signed him to a five-year extension. Management, much like the fans, let themselves get caught up in the “eager to throw hits and punch faces” hype for a while, but it was probably still better for him than yo-yoing him between two leagues.

Trade Reasoning: The Leafs managed to pick up Morgan Rielly in the draft, which signified a shift to a rushing, offensive, puck-possession driven defensive core. Schenn was none of these things, and the Leafs saw an opportunity to move him for a young and talented forward and pounced.

Trade Return: James van Riemsdyk

If you’re going to get one brother, you may as well get the other, apparently? The Leafs hadn’t given up on Schenn, he was developing on schedule; they just realized that this wasn’t the player they needed. If anything, van Riemsdyk, himself a former 2nd overall pick, was the one being sold low here, but that’s what happens when you assume two brothers, a year apart, who rarely played together and play different positions, will automatically go Sedin on the league and make your team good.

Phil Kessel

Drafted: 5th overall, 2006 NHL Entry Draft (Boston Bruins)

Traded: September 18th, 2009 to Toronto (Aged 21)

Post-Draft, Pre-Trade Career: Kessel hopped straight out of college and onto the Bruins in his first year, playing 14 minutes a night after recovering from testicular cancer. He put up a respectable but not mindblowing 29 points, but given the circumstances, everybody was happy with that. With each year, however, he got better, culminating in a 36 goal season with the Bruins in 2008/09. Kessel was also over a point-per-game in the 2007 and 2008 World Championships for the United States and had 15 points in 15 playoff games with the Bruins. Through 222 games with Boston, he had scored 66 goals and 60 assists, though many were aware that the best was yet to come.

Trade Reasoning: The Bruins were up against the cap, and had to decide on whether they wanted to be a full-on skill team, or if they wanted to play with a bit of edge and with depth down the middle. Ultimately, Kessel’s goals were deemed replaceable, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding his shoulder injury. The team invested into Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, and David Krejci instead, and called Brian Burke’s bluff regarding throwing an offer sheet on the table, knowing he wouldn’t eat his own words to Kevin Lowe years before.

Trade Return: 2010 first-round draft pick (Tyler Seguin), 2011 first-round draft pick (Dougie Hamilton), 2010 second-round pick (Jared Knight)

We started off with Seguin, and ended off with his predecessor. Kessel’s trade is the definition of a swing for the fence move, in hindsight; Brian Burke overestimated his team, and gave up picks that were much higher than he had expected they would become. Kessel’s return is by far the highest on the list, but he had established himself as a young elite winger when he moved; something he stayed until the day he left Toronto.

Ultimately, the idea of a team moving on from their top-five draft pick so soon after drafting him isn’t out of the ordinary. This group of players represents just a few of these scenarios throughout NHL history, with circumstances that are all unique from each other’s. It’s hard to point to one of them and say “Drouin’s dominoes will fall just like that”; some left in certain ways, others played to varying qualities before their move, and certain teams were in different positions.

Drouin’s early numbers show that he has potential to be a special offensive player in this league, but Tampa Bay isn’t exactly lost without him, or devastatingly lacking in any area. They could get fleeced if they want the situation to end quickly, or if Drouin sulks in Syracuse. But if he plays well, hoping it’ll get him into the right spot, you never know what a bidding war may bring.

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