“Just a little collision and I fell on it, it wasn’t a big hit or anything,” Drouin said. “Just lost balance and fell on my hand.”
The club issued a statement and said that the injury took place last Thursday following a collision during two-on-two work at rookie training camp. The fracture was confirmed with X-rays on Monday and the 19-year-old will sit the rest of the pre-season and parts of the regular season. That’s not the start he or the Lightning had in mind.
Drouin is making a significant case for his NHL debut this season. He was recently ranked number one on NHL.com’s top prospects.
Tampa picked him up in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and sent him to the Halifax Mooseheads, his junior club, last season. This season, he’s supposed to make the jump to the big leagues and the anticipation is huge.
“I felt really good on and off the ice when I showed up in camp,” Drouin said. “To miss the first part of training camp and preseason, it’s disappointing.”
Disappointing is certainly the word for it, but Tampa wasn’t initially considering the injury to be all that serious. They had him slated with the classic “upper body injury” and were playing things out day by day before the X-rays confirmed the inevitable.
“What’s bothering him, once it gets better, it won’t bother him again,” Cooper said. “It shouldn’t be a long-term lingering thing.”
The club has to be hoping that Drouin can get back on the ice and put this behind him, as he’s got a lot to prove this year. On the Mooseheads last season, he put together a 108-point campaign and added 41 points during the post-season.
And Tampa has seen a noted difference in the Jonathan Drouin who has shown up to this year’s camp in contrast to the Jonathan Drouin who showed up last year. “He’s leaner, he’s quicker, he’s faster, he seems more mature out on the ice,” Cooper said.
In all likelihood, he’ll make the team. The thumb injury shouldn’t make or break that possibility, but it could hold him back from taking a run at the regular season and that could hamper momentum. Or, as is often the case, it could be the case that a thumb injury is just a thumb injury.