It’s easy to forget that Jeff Drouin Deslauriers was a highly rated prospect in his draft season. Although Edmonton chose Jesse Niinimaki in the first round, Deslaurier’s scouting reports were real and exceptional.
Notorious hard marker Redline Report: Movement this good is rarely seen in 6-4 netminders. He exudes tremendous confidence, communicating with defensemen and taking charge around net like a traffic cop. Has outstanding reflexes and anticipation, and is very well balanced in his stance. Very positive body language and is big enough to cover top corners when down in butterfly. He isn’t as clean or consistent with the glove as you’d like, plays too deep in net, and doesn’t cut off shoot-ins behind the net well yet.
Leg/foot quickness: A
Glove hand: C+
That glove hand number isn’t a goodie but the rest of the package looks like quality. Deslaurier was highly rated at the draft (HN had him in the top 10) but fell to the second round on draft day 2002.
Since then he put up a solid junior season and then after turning pro has been inconsistent to the point where he still hasn’t seen one minute of NHL action. Let’s go back to the 2002 draft and list the goalies taken in that year’s top 50 with their NHL GP:
- 2nd overall: Kari Lehtonen (158)
- 25th overall: Cam Ward (157)
- 29th overall: Hannu Toivonen (61)
- 31st overall: Jeff Deslauriers (0)
- 34th overall: Tobias Stephen (1)
- 38th overall: Josh Harding (39)
- 46th overall: David LeNeveu (21)
We’re at a point now where the development time should be over and the starting goalies have emerged. There’s always a Dwayne Roloson or Tim Thomas in the pack but at this point in time the top 4GP goalies here would seem to be a cut above the rest.
Let’s look at Deslaurier’s SP and where he ranked in recent AHL seasons:
- 06-07: .908 (tied for 21st)
- 07-08: .912 (tied for 15th)
With those numbers as a backdrop it’s a little difficult to explain the recent turn of events in the career of Deslauriers. Going into this season he was in a tough spot as a prospect, with young Devan Dubnyk expected to share the goaltending load. However, Deslaurier’s performances earned him team MVP honors and all kinds of rave reviews from Oiler management:
- Prendergast: “He’s put himself in a position where the opportunity presents itself. He’s eliminated a lot of the doubts in his mind as to whether he could carry a team at the pro level.”
- Buchberger: “He gives us a chance to win every night. He works so hard on and off the ice, he has a great attitude about the game and he wants to get better and I think his days will come where he’ll play in the NHL, there’s no question. He still has a lot of work to do with handling the puck and in different areas of the game but he’s taken strides this year and he’s confident and we’re happy to have on our side. He’s not a cocky person, he’s very humble and he wants to do well. He’s a good kid that you want to see do well.”
Both quotes courtesy Guy Flaming and his most recent Oilers top 20 article. These comments and his obvious success with the Falcons this season are a little curious based on the numbers posted above (Save Percentage) that imply he is an average minor league goalie. I think there are two reasons to discount the words of management: despite playing well the Falcons missed the playoffs, and the SP number implies he was as average in performance as the team in front of him.
Deslaurier’s SP (.912) is clear of partner Dubnyk (.905) by enough that we can state at this time JDD is the better goalie. Deslauriers’ prospects of playing in the NHL this season are dashed by the veteran tandem that is signed for next winter (Garon-Roloson). The only bit of good news for him is that Dubnyk isn’t applying a great deal of pressure at this time.
FINAL GRADE: 75%