It has been almost a year since the Anaheim Ducks traded for Nicolas Deslauriers, and our initial judgments about him were very wrong.
There isn’t a whole lot to talk about when it comes to hockey these days. We’ve already covered pretty much all of the bases, and there is really no use beating a dead horse. While quarantine talk was fun at first, a lot of us are just looking for an escape from all of this nonsense. So, over the next few days, we’re going to take a look at a few of the players the Anaheim Ducks traded for this past season and give our honest opinions, starting with a fan favorite, Nicolas Deslauriers.
It has been almost a year since General Manager Bob Murray traded a fourth-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for 29-year-old Deslauriers. After a heartbreaking 2018-19 season, his trade left a lot of us baffled. With only 5 points in 48 games with the Canadiens, Murray seemed to be making typical Murray moves; the word “grit” comes to mind when recalling the trade.
GMBM had promised change; a new plan. To start the season, the Anaheim Ducks biggest needs were players who could contribute offensively and score goals. Deslauriers’ style of game was nowhere near reminiscent of a player who could do either. Trading an asset away for that seemed like pure insanity on Murray’s part.
Nevertheless, here we are, almost a year later, and the Deslauriers trade has surprised us all. I, myself, was not a fan of this trade in the slightest. During the offseason I wrote about the trade, calling it baffling, another rehabilitation project that likely wouldn’t work, among other things. While Deslauriers is no David Pastrnak or Alex Ovechkin, I am more than happy to eat my words and admit that I was very wrong about this trade.
An Exciting Piece to a Boring Season
If players like Derek Grant (and now, Nicolas Deslauriers) have taught us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t necessarily judge a player based on their time with previous teams. While many of us thought that Deslauriers would spend a majority of his season riding the bench and watching from the press box, he was the perfect addition to the fourth line, alongside Grant and Carter Rowney.
In 59 games with the Anaheim Ducks, Des had one of his best seasons pointwise. Had he played all 82 games, he was on track to procure 18 points, which would have been his highest point totals since his 2014-15 season (15 points) with the Buffalo Sabres. The argument can be made that 13 points are nothing to perk your ears up at, and that much is true, his performance this season went well beyond potential careers highs.
First, let’s talk about throwing fists. Deslauriers has never been one to back down from a fight or been afraid to challenge someone to a brawl. Whether you support fighting in hockey or not is beside the point; Deslauriers always found a way to draw your attention back to the game, didn’t he?
It doesn’t matter if it was a spirited fight reminiscent of the good old days with Kurtis MacDermid or sticking up for his teammate by taking down Radko Gudas after he laid out Nick Ritchie, he found a way to bring life back to his lifeless team and recapture the attention of Anaheim Ducks fans. I think we can all agree when I say, the Ducks were a rather boring team this season, and the entertainment factor Deslaurier brought was almost worth giving up a fourth-round draft pick.
Hats off at Home
One of Des’ most memorable moments of the season, however, was not one of his many scruffs, but his natural hat trick in the first period against the Ottawa Senators prior to the season being cut short. He completed the hat trick just 32 seconds after scoring his second goal.
The Ducks were seriously outworked by the Senators, being outshot 42-15. Nevertheless, with an outstanding Ryan Miller in net, and a little bit of luck, Deslauriers became the third player in franchise history to complete a hat trick in the first period.
His hat trick is also now the fastest completed in franchise history, a record once held by the great Teemu Selanne since 1997. To make it an even better moment, nothing could have beaten his smile or the celebration on the bench as he scored his first career hat trick. It is moments like those, in the midst of difficult seasons, that remind us why we love hockey so much in the first place.
Embracing the Culture and Love for the Community
Finally, Deslauriers has fit in well with the culture of the Anaheim Ducks. While he is the “tough guy” out on the ice, his presence in the locker room has been received well, especially by the younger players. Rebuild, retool, or whatever Murray wants to call this season the Ducks are in, can be tough on all the players, especially for the younger ones.
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However, it’s players like Deslauriers that are easy to talk to. He’s been through the rough patches, he’s been through scoring droughts, but he has also shown the importance of having the right mindset in those difficult times. Des is a player who does not let the slumps define who he is as a player. Night in, and night out, he gives his best effort.
Deslauriers has also embraced the Anaheim Ducks love for their community. He has, of course, been spotted at several of the Ducks popular charity events with the rest of the team. However, he has also been at several of their lesser-known and less publicized events as well. The fact that he is willing to make himself available for the people of Orange County, no matter the status of the event, is a true sign that he deserves to wear an Anaheim Ducks sweater.
While Dallas Eakins has the ability to place Deslauriers in a situation that would be better suited to his game, there is no denying that our snap judgments about Nicolas Deslauriers were very wrong. He certainly wasn’t the best player Murray has ever traded for, but he has found a home in Anaheim (at least for the next two years), he fits in well, and in the grand scheme of things, maybe a fourth-round pick wasn’t so hard to give up after all.
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