Although there's an 18-point gap between the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division standings, Thursday's matchup holds particular significance for Jonathan Drouin, who will play his first game against his former club since being traded over the summer.
Drouin returns to Tampa Bay after a roller coaster three-year tenure that saw him demand a trade and not report to his subsequent AHL assignment. He capped it all off by playing the best hockey of his career in a deep playoff run and throughout the season that followed.
For better or worse, Drouin always found his way into the spotlight with the Lightning, but with the entire saga in tow, the 22-year-old says he's thrilled to be in Montreal.
"Maybe being more patient in my decision-making, where I'm young and stubborn and want to do my own thing, and what I did," Drouin told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.
"But I've said it before, I don't regret what I did, it got me to my hometown team and a lot of good players to play with."
Drouin was drafted third overall to the Lightning in 2013, and recorded 95 points across 164 regular-season contests. This year in Montreal, he's notched five goals and 13 assists in 32 games.