As a 21-year-old I’m in the last week of college for the spring semester before summer break. Sitting in the library, where I should be studying for finals but instead I’ve decided to write this blog about some impressive 21-year-olds who are shining bright on the NHL’s biggest stage. It’s playoff time in the NHL, a time where veterans usually takeover and they just let the young guns watch and learn. That’s not the case this year. The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning have found success in playoffs due to large part of their lunch of some young unsung heroes.
Jonathan Drouin was the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. The hype round this kid was extreme. Everyone wanted him to be great and to be great right away. Long story short, the extremely talented 18-year-old need some time to adjust to the level of play in the NHL before he was going to be the great.
Coming into this year, the hype was back. Tampa was ready for Drouin to be star. That didn’t happen (well early this year anyway). He struggled in the early going and was unhappy with the Lightning Franchise, even going as far as requesting a trade. As a result, Drouin gets sent down to the AHL and got even more troubled. Suspended for games, not showing up, and just really wanting out of Tampa Bay.
Then comes the playoffs, Lightning are not going to miss out on this incredible player not being in their lineup for the playoffs. Drouin gets a second chance. He comes in and he has not disappointed. Eights points in eight games. The wow factor is there, the game winning assist last night—after getting knocked out of the game in the second from a huge hit from Thomas Hickey—and the game-winning goal in Game 2 against the New York Islanders. Drouin only managed 10 points during the regular season, which makes his eight this postseason even more impressive.
After all the controversy, Drouin has put his head down and let his play do the talking. He continues to impress Tampa and the rest of the league. After the Lightning’s playoff run is done they are going to have some big decisions to make. Whether to sit down and say, “Hey Drouin, we are sorry and here’s a new contract” or “Hey Drouin, thanks for increasing your trade value, see you later.” Trade him or give him love.
Matt Murray has gone the entire season with only losing three games at the NHL level. He has taken the net over for the Pittsburgh Penguins and has not looked back. Lets start by saying Murray went 9-2 during the regular season and has followed that up with a 5-1 postseason record so far. His goals-against average is under two (1.78). His save percentage (.944%) is the third best in the NHL. Murray has been remarkable for the Penguins and was the reason they pulled out the win with 47 saves in Game 3 against the Washington Capitals.
Murray was a former third round pick that has sprouted into a future all-star goaltender. The big news about Murray is that when the Penguins said that their Stanley Cup winning and former first overall draft pick, Marc-Andre Fleury became health in Game 3, they still decided to start the rookie.
What does this mean for the future of Fleury? Has he been replaced? Could he be on the market this summer? Murray may have just caused mayhem in Pittsburgh.
21 and having fun, winning is fun. Drouin and Murray have been two of the best players on the ice during these Stanley Cup playoffs. Their teams continue to be hot and continue to win. As for right now, these two players are doing everything right. This offseason could be a different story, Drouin could be saying bye-bye to Tampa Bay and if Fleury doesn’t go, Murray could be saying peace to Pittsburgh.