Jeff Deslauriers was a top 35 pick in 2002 and hard markers Redline Reports said many nice things:
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, the biggest surprise of the top-enders, is as big as an octopus and takes up virtually the entire net with his 6-4 frame. In addition, he moves extremely well for a huge man. He has great intangibles with very positive body language and an alert attitude that gives teammates confidence. His rapid rise from nowhere this year gives the impression that he’s got a huge upside if he can continue to make the same type of quantum leap from season-to-season.
Since that scouting report and his draft day, Deslauriers had one uneven junior season and then a very good one (including a deep playoff run), and his 4-year AHL career saw his SP’s improve over time:
- 04-05: .888 (22gp)
- 05-06: .897 (13gp)
- 06-07: .908 (40gp)
- 07-08: .912 (57gp)
For much of the time he’s been a pro goalie (certainly 04-06) Deslauriers was considered as more of a suspect than prospect by many Oilers fans. The Oilers organization, however, always held him in high esteem and whenever anyone asked expressed that he was part of the future.
Guy Flaming over at Hockey’s Future has a very nice timeline for JDD’s career:
- 2001-02: As the starting goaltender for Chicoutimi of the QMJHL, he was named to the first all rookie team and also defensive rookie of the year (QMJHL) and was named Top Goaltender at the 2002 top prospects game.
- 2002-03: Invited to Canada’s WJC camp in August and December but did not make the final team. Jeff represented the QMJHL against the touring Russian Selects in November of 2003.
- 2003-04: Again invited to WJC camps but did not earn a spot on the team.
- 2004-05: Split time between the AHL and ECHL in his first pro season playing for both the Edmonton Road Runners and Greenville Grrrowl.
- 2005-06: A season basically wasted playing 3rd string for the Hamilton Bulldogs before being reassigned to the ECHL where he sustained a season ending knee injury.
- 2006-07: Finally played half a season in the AHL and fared well. Did not get the call in the playoffs though for Wilkes-Barre.
Deslauriers was one of the minor leaguers who caught a break when Kelly Buchberger made his way to the big club. Bucky loved Deslauriers in Springfield: “He’s been outstanding for us all year. He’s been there every night. He has to play the same (way he did against Providence) for us to have success and everybody else has to pick up the slack.” This summer the Oilers signed JDD to a one-way contract. It was a two-year deal that paid him $550,000 and then $750,000. It’s a terrific contract for the Oilers if JDD can deliver in the backup role, but his inconsistent minor league (and junior) career made the one-way portion a bit of a risk.
The Oilers have played the season’s first quarter with a three goalie tandem, which is kind of line bullpen by committee. We’ve suspected for some time now a deal is in the offing and when it goes down Deslauriers is very likely to be the backup.
His minor league numbers imply a middle-of-the-road porridge talent, but the man’s major league totals are rock solid: 6gp (330mins) 3-2-0, 2.73GAA and .915SP. What do we make of this?
The fact that I have him at #12 this winter is a compromise, a saw-off. He’s clearly had a tremendous (if limited) start with the Oilers so it needs to be recognized and should he emerge as a legit 25-30 game NHL goalie then obviously I’ve rated him too low all down the line (by the way, Guy Flaming has always rated JDD highly).
However, his junior and minor league seasons rolling out over half a decade tell us he’s a mid-level prospect, properly slotted after the rocket prospects and a few of the flawed men, but well ahead of the muckers, grinders, imps, Coke Machines with questionable hands, the Hail Mary’s and personal favorites.