It was a risky move to put 2 17 year-old forwards on the final roster, but the talent the two have is hard to pass up on. Due to the great chemistry the linemates show both in the QMJHL and at training camp, it
was expected that they would be paired together on the 3rd or 4th forward line where they would be able to do the least damage. But head coach Steve Spott has decided to give one of them a much larger role and not the one you'd expect
Team Canada currently has Drouin playing on the 2nd line with Niagara IceDog teammates Ryan Strome and Brett Ritchie while Nathan Mackinnon is on the 4th line wing slated as the 13th forward. Yes you read that correctly, Canada currently has Drouin in the top 6 forwards while the projected 1st overall pick is stuck in the bottom 6.
MacKinnon and Drouin sit 3rd and 10th respectively in the QMJHL scoring, but many attributed Drouin's success to the benefit of playing with a world class player such as MacKinnon. With the all star centre, Drouin has managed to rack up 19 goals and 28 assists for 48 points and is only 4 points behind his linemate. Even more remarkable he is managing an average 2 points per game. It may be time to give Drouin the credit he deserves.
When the Mooseheads drafted Drouin 2nd overall in the QMJHL draft, they felt they had landed their next franchise player. Now calling someone a "franchise" player is nothing to shake your head at and 9 times out of 10 they will be the most talked about and best player on the team. It wasn't until they were able to land the only player taken higher then the perspective franchise player in the QMJHL MacKinnon, that Drouin started to fade into the background. But the fact Drouin was drafted to become the next big star for the Mooseheads means he's a pretty spectacular hockey player and has just as much right to be on the world junior team as MacKinnon.
Due to the fact Drouin plays on the same line as MacKinnon and is often overshadowed by the big name player, going into team Canada training camp many
thought he was un-proven and only earned an invite on MacKinnon's bill. In order to see his true potential he needed to be separated from his linemate, butSpott kept the two together and their chemistry turned heads and ended up earning both a spot on the final roster. Finally Drouin doubters are getting what they want, him on a line away from MacKinnon and he seems to be doing just fine.
While Drouin's spot in the top 6 forwards isn't carved in stone yet, his strong play earned him a spot to prove he is capable of playing in the top 6 and his new linemates believe he's doing just fine;
"Obviously he's got an unbelievable skill level, I'm looking forward to playing with him. I feel pretty lucky. He's really calm out there, he's been composed the whole camp and in practice. He skates like a pro, he works like a pro, he's got skill like a pro." ~Ryan Strome
Drouin is certainly making an impression with many older already drafted players, maybe there really is something special about the youngster. Few have even gone as far to compare his style of play to Jordan Eberle or Patrick Kane, no matter which you slice it he's turning heads around not only the minors but also the NHL. With his strong play in the QMJHL this season, his spectacular showing at the Subway Super Series against Russia and his latest inclusion to team Canada his draft stock is rising and rising fast. He skyrocketed from 13th to 4th in the latest rankings and many fans and scouts say he has the potential to be a first overall pick. Can we see 2 Mooseheads go in the top 5?
While splitting up MacKinnon and Drouin isn't the recommended move, Spott seems comfortable with Drouin taking on a much bigger role. But things could change quick if the 2nd line goes south Drouin can easily drop down to the 4th line. But with a strong showing at the World Juniors, it may be Jonathan Drouin we hear more and more about in the coming months and maybe even separate from the name MacKinnon.