Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

No hard feelings between Lightning prospects Jonathan Drouin, Adam Erne

BRANDON — RW Jonathan Drouin and LW Adam Erne's lockers are side by side during this week's Lightning development camp.

It might be symbolic because there's no friction between the two prospects.

"We're cool," Erne said at the Ice Sports Forum. "We're friends."

The duo has moved on since Erne's controversial hit from behind on Drouin in December during a Quebec junior league game. Erne, a Lightning second-round draft pick in 2013 playing for Quebec, shoved Drouin, the No. 3 overall 2013 pick playing for Halifax, into the boards, and Drouin banged his head.

Drouin, 19, suffered a concussion, and Erne, 19, received a game misconduct.

"The game goes fast. Stuff happens. It was one of those (things) that happens a lot," Drouin said. "It just ended up being a little weird we're on the same NHL team. I don't think (the hit) was on purpose or intentional."

Erne, who told reporters after the game he thought Drouin dove, didn't think it was a dirty hit.

"It's nothing personal," Erne said. "It's hockey. Stuff happens."

Drouin, who didn't remember the play other than what he saw on video, said Erne sent him a text message afterward and apologized. "I'm not going to start chasing him around the ice after that," Drouin said. "We're friends now and friends before. Everything is good between us."

Lightning director of player development Stacy Roest was at the game, figuring it'd be a great opportunity to see both players.

"Don't remind me," Roest joked. "It's a hockey play. It happens. My reaction was, 'I hope it never happens again.' It's one of those plays that happens a lot during the game, and maybe if (Drouin) doesn't bang his head, it's not a big issue."

LOCKED UP: D Andrej Sustr signed a one-year, one-way deal Friday. Sustr, 23, was a restricted free agent, having played 43 games for Tampa Bay last season. Tampa Bay still has to sign restricted free agent forwards Brett Connolly and Richard Panik.

TOUGH CALL: The Lightning is in an enviable position of having depth in goaltending, with prospects Andrei Vasilevskiy and Kristers Gudlevskis expected to start the season at AHL Syracuse, with Ben Bishop and veteran Evgeni Nabokov in net for Tampa Bay.

But that glut of goaltenders could cost the Lightning the chance of keeping Adam Wilcox, a University of Minnesota star sophomore who was drafted in the sixth round in 2011.

Wilcox, 21, who led the Gophers to the NCAA title game last season, could sign a contract when development camp is over. But Wilcox could also return to school, play another season and become an unrestricted free agent. The collective bargaining agreement lets players be free agents four years after they're drafted.

"We'll see what happens," Wilcox said. "It's a tough decision, career or school. It's one of the toughest I've ever had in my life. I'm just trying to not let it weigh on me and keep on rolling here and stick with the plan."

MISCELLANY: Second-round 2014 pick D Johnathan MacLeod said he plans to stick with his commitment to Boston University instead of playing for Moncton, which drafted him in the 10th round in the 2013 Quebec junior league draft. … The prospects had a half day at Friday's development camp, spending the afternoon go-karting in a team-building exercise.

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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