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Jonathan Drouin trade rumors 2016: Could the Chicago Blackhawks be a suitor?

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The young winger has requested a trade out of Tampa Bay. Is there a chance the Blackhawks could trade for him?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New Year's weekend was an eventful one in the NHL, with the first ever Women's Classic occurring on New Year's Eve and the annual Winter Classic taking place on New Year's Day. And yet even with these grand and monumental events happening, the biggest story from this weekend was out of Tampa Bay, where Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin formally requested a trade.

Drouin has widely been considered one of the NHL's elite prospects for some time now. He dominated with the Halifax Moosehead of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, scoring 105 points in 49 games in 2012-13, then went on to become the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He remained with Halifax for one more season, notching 108 points in 46 games in 2013-14, before signing his entry-level contract and joining the Lightning last season.

He played in 70 games last year, notching a respectable 32 points (4 goals, 28 assists), but appeared in only six playoff games and failed to record. This season, he has appeared in just 19 of Tampa Bay's 39 games, and has notched eight points (two goals, six assists) in those games.

Due to his limited appearances, restricted ice time and recent demotion to the AHL's Syracuse Crunch, Drouin's agent publicly announced this weekend that he and Drouin formally requested a trade out of Tampa Bay in November.

Drouin's production has been solid in spite of his limited play time -- he has averages 1.9 points per 60 minutes played in 92 career games -- and he is still just 20 years old, making him a very valuable trade commodity should the Lightning feel inclined to fulfill his request. For that reason, prying him away from Tampa Bay figures to be a rather costly venture.

Tampa Bay, like Chicago, is a cap-ceilling team, as it currently has just shy of $2.5 million in cap space. In addition, the team's captain and best player, Steven Stamkos, is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Despite many NHL experts and insiders predicting that Stamkos will not re-sign with the team, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman has said that he believes Stamkos' preference is to remain a Bolt.

Many people believed that the Lightning would try to trade Stamkos before season's end to avoid losing him for nothing. Much of that speculation hinged on the fact that Tampa Bay would still have Drouin in the fold going forward and he could be a potential replacement for Stamkos as the team's best forward.

If Tampa GM Steve Yzerman is now intent on trading Drouin, he'll most likely be looking to free up some salary cap space as well so that he can be sure he has the room to re-sign Stamkos. Likely cap space candidates include defensemen Matthew Carle and Braydon Coburn, who are signed at $5.5 million and $4.5 million, respectfully. Coburn's contract expires at the end of this season and he will be a UFA, while Carle is signed through 2017-18.

If Tampa Bay was insistent on shipping out one of those two defensemen, a deal for Drouin would be extremely difficult for the Blackhawks to make. At the very least, Tampa would have to retain some salary, and probably be willing to take someone like Andrew Shaw back in the deal as well. However, acquiring someone like Coburn as well would also be a bit of a blessing to the Blackhawks, who could use some help on the back end, .

Another hang up on a potential Chicago deal for Drouin would be whether or not the Blackhawks have the pieces to actually make a deal for Drouin. Again, Drouin is a highly skilled, young forward with top-six potential, so the price tag will be high. We also have to be careful not to overvalue the pieces that the Blackhawks have in place at risk of speculating potential trades that actually would not work at all.

In my opinion, Tampa Bay would be foolish not to demand that one of Teuvo Teravainen or Marko Dano be included in any potential Drouin deal, as both are skilled young forwards who could quite easily fill the hole Drouin leaves in the organization. As you can see from the embedded tweet above, Dano was incredibly productive during his time with the Blue Jackets, actually producing more points/60 than Drouin has, so the value is not far off in that respect. Still, Drouin is probably better than Dano, and has a higher ceiling as well, meaning that the Blackhawks would likely have to include a draft pick in the deal as well.

Potential Trade

This is the fun part. We have laid out what Tampa will be looking to do, what pieces within the Chicago orgnization could help Tampa accomplish their goals, and now we try to put the pieces together to form a plausible trade. So here is my proposed Blackhawks-Lightning trade for Jonathan Drouin.

Blackhawks receive: Jonathan Drouin, Braydon Coburn (33% retained salary)

Lightning receive: Marko Dano, Andrew Shaw, forward prospect, 2016 first round pick

This deal hinges on a few variables working in the Blackhawks favor, so it's a bit optimistic, but I believe it is a realistic option. I settled on Tampa retaining 33 percent ($1.5 million) of Coburn's salary so that it still worked for the Blackhawks while also freeing up some cap space for Tampa Bay, in this case about $1 million.

The other hang up is which prospect Tampa Bay would ask for. It would likely be a forward prospect, as Tampa is somewhat thin on center prospects according to Hockey's Future. I doubt Chicago would include Nick Schmaltz in this deal, though perhaps player like Vincent Hinostroza or Tanner Kero would work.

Another slight possibility is Marcus Kruger if Tampa Bay see potential in him beyond his checking center role and the Blackhawks decide that Phillip Danault is their guy for that role going forward. This adds an extra complication in Kruger's $1.5 million cap hit, so perhaps in this case, Tampa doesn't retain any of Coburn's salary. This also may still require another prospect going Tampa's way, but would still be worth it.

Perhaps this trade isn't entirely likely, but I don't think that it is very far off in terms of both teams getting a fair return that helps them within their respective situations. For the Blackhawks, they acquire a highly skilled young winger who can come in and play top-six minutes immediately, and may be the solution to their ongoing first line left wing issue. They also get a serviceable defenseman who can fill a top-four role that they don't have to commit to beyond this year. It's also possible the two sides could pursue a deal not involving the veteran defensemen that's focused around sending young assets and picks to the Bolts.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, trades away a player who is clearly not happy with them, in addition to an expensive veteran defenseman, in exchange for a nice return of young, useful, and inexpensive players that not only fill needs but also allow them a better chance at re-signing their superstart captain.

This is all nothing more than speculation, but perhaps there is some level of plausibility to this. The Blackhawks certainly have some pieces in place that can help them make a trade for Drouin should Yzerman be interested in what he has to offer. Maybe this isn't the trade that gets done in the end, but these teams could be a fit for a deal involving Drouin given the holes both sides could fill in the deal.

Adam Hess is a staff writer at Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter at @FeathersInDaHat.

Salary Cap information via Hockey's Cap.