TAMPA — There's a lot of smoke surrounding the potential trade of Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin.
Though nothing appeared imminent Friday, there seemed to be some momentum. Canada's TVA TV network reported Friday a trade could come in the next 24 hours. Yet Drouin played Friday night for AHL Syracuse, his fifth game with the Crunch since getting reassigned Jan. 2.
Drouin — who has no points with the Crunch since getting two goals in his first game — told reporters in Syracuse after Friday's 3-1 loss to Utica, "We'll see what happens the next couple days." Asked what that meant, he responded, "I'm just saying we'll see what's going on, and … if I go up (to the Lightning) or get traded."
GM Steve Yzerman has been patient, hoping to get "equal" value in return for the 2013 No. 3 overall draft pick. He has had since November, when Drouin made his trade request, to work on it. The request was made public this month.
The Blues are thought to be a top candidate, and considering how often Yzerman and assistant GM Pat Verbeek have attended their games the past few months, that's no surprise. The Ducks, Predators and Wild also have shown interest. It seems likely the Lightning would prefer a trade to the Western Conference.
With the Lightning's limited salary cap space, it likely wants a package involving another young player under contract for some time, unless it can swing a multiplayer swap that involves money going the other away (such as D Matt Carle's $5.5 million cap hit). The Blues have a young right-shot defenseman in Colton Parayko, 22, who has six goals and 11 assists, and is plus-13. They also have C Robby Fabbri, 19.
The Predators, even with trading D Seth Jones to the Blue Jackets last week, still have depth on defense. And the Ducks, also desperate for offense, have intriguing young defenseman Sami Vatanen, 24.
VASY IN: Despite G Ben Bishop coming off a shutout Tuesday in Colorado, Andrei Vasilevskiy started Friday's 5-4 overtime win against the Penguins. Coach Jon Cooper said the team needs Vasilevskiy to play during the six games before the All-Star break and hoped to get him at least two starts. It didn't sound like Vasilevskiy would get sent to Syracuse for spot starts.
"We don't count on having Vasilevskiy … go back, but if he does, he will," Cooper said. "It's proven that it's been successful that he's gone back and played a game and come up for us and been successful for us. What we don't want (is) … somebody is sitting 10 days, two weeks. We want to keep both of these guys going."
STILL OUT: The Lightning went with the same lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen as it did in Tuesday's 4-0 win, meaning RW Jonathan Marchessault was a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game. RW Erik Condra also sat out. Marchessault, who last played Jan. 8 in Calgary, has scored six goals in 23 games since a late October callup. He may have played his way onto the roster now that he's waiver-eligible, but he knows there are no guarantees. "It's a good team and a healthy team," Marchessault said. "Just keep working hard, maybe things will open up. I was doing good, want to play. But that's just the way it goes. It's my first year. You got to pay your dues."