It would have taken a lot to acquire Jonathan Drouin. He’s still in Tampa Bay, so obviously no team (including Buffalo) was willing to give up what the Lightning wanted.
It’s clear someone should have.
Drouin, who left the Lightning at midseason after demanding a trade, has shined during the playoffs. He’s averaging a point per game with one goal and seven assists, including the primary helper on the tying goal in the final minute Tuesday night.
The Lightning won, 5-4, in overtime to take a 2-1 series lead over the Islanders. Drouin’s assist was more impressive considering he came back from a crushing hit delivered by Thomas Hickey.
"I just cut to the middle, and he read the play," Drouin told reporters. "I looked at the hit after, and it appears it was a clean hit. He just got me. He read what I was doing, and I have nothing against him. It was a clean hit."
The Islanders say Brian Boyle’s hit on Hickey in overtime was not clean. It helped open the ice for Boyle to score the game-winner.
"The whole game, it shouldn't come down to that," Isles coach Jack Capuano said. "It's just too bad that it had to end that way. It's frustrating because it's right there. The play is right there. He's looking right at it. The league can look at it if they want, but I've watched it four or five times, maybe more, and it's just frustrating it had to end in that particular way with a head shot."
Drake Caggiula, the much-coveted college free agent who led North Dakota to the national championship, is expected to sign with an NHL team this week. The Sabres are in the running.
Buffalo has a legitimate shot because it can offer the left winger an immediate spot on the top two lines. The Sabres struggled to find scoring on the left side behind Evander Kane, and Caggiula could excel there after putting up 25 goals and 51 points in 39 games as a senior.
The United States Hockey League, the top junior league in the country, held its two-phase draft this week. Three members of the Buffalo Junior Sabres went in Phase One: Kevin Wall, Cade Murnan-Mechor and Trevor Peca, the son of Michael Peca.
Several local players were drafted in the second phase, including Colton McKenna (Williamsville), Zacarey Herrmann (Lancaster), Michael Bevilacqua (Hamburg), Griffin Loughran (West Seneca), Mitchell Hale (Oakfield), Justin Cmunt (Amherst), Tyler Johnson (Amherst) and Matthew Slick (Buffalo).
Tampa Bay got shocking news off the ice as longtime Tampa Bay Tribune reporter Erik Erlendsson was laid off during the morning skate in New York. The Tampa Bay Times purchased the Tribune and promptly shut it down.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper weighed in.
So did former Lightning forward Nate Thompson, who plays in Anaheim.