Keep It On The D-Lo
The Los Angeles Kings have many impressive prospects coming up the ranks. Defenseman Nick Deslauriers just finished his rookie season with the Manchester Monarchs and it can be said that he flew under the radar a bit as he found his professional legs.
Deslauriers, 21, scored a goal and added 13 assists for 14 points in 65 games for the Monarchs during his rookie campaign. The numbers may not jump off the charts but his hard work and competiveness earned Deslauriers a regular spot in the Monarchs line-up.
“Every time you do good, you put it in the coach’s mind that they cannot sit you and you have to play like that all year,” said Deslauriers. “I think I pushed myself to do that (last season) and it got me a spot (on the ice) in the playoffs.”
Following a shaky start, Deslauriers continued to battle and kept a positive attitude to prove he was ready for the American Hockey League.
“At the beginning of the year it was hard for me,” said Deslauriers. “I did not play all that much. I think in all, I played 65 games during the year and I had a pretty good stretch (in the middle of the season). I think I was scratched for probably eight, nine or 10 games at the beginning of the year and after that I just played them all straight. I think I played with more confidence as we went along.”
Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris also noticed stronger play from Deslauriers as the season progressed.
“He is a great athlete first and foremost,” said Morris. “I think he benefited from seeing a lot of quality ice time last year. His decision making and choices that he made as the season progressed were vastly improved from the early going when he was more inclined to take the puck coast-to-coast. But he is distributing the puck extremely well now and he has tremendous skating ability. He is starting to see the ice better and to move the puck where it needs to go at the right time.”
Deslauriers’ confidence grew as he went further into the season. The newly gained confidence could have been shaken at one point last season when he was moved off the blueline, out of necessity, to play left wing for a few games because of injuries and call-ups but he viewed it as a positive.
“I had not played left wing since my second year in bantums,” recounted Deslauriers. “I was kind of lost a little bit but I had a little bit of (offensive) tools. I know that with the body I have, I just needed to stop and try to hit somebody so that was my game. (Coach Morris) did not want to put me in the stands and he found me a spot up front. I will never complain about that. If you want me to play wing on the fourth line instead of (sitting in) the stands, I will do anything to play.”
While Deslauriers did not score a goal in the few games he played a forward position, he did score his first professional goal while playing on defense in January against the Portland Pirates.
“I think it was my first goal because I had so many shots on net and it never went in,” chuckled Deslauriers. “I had some time on the power play where I hit the post probably 15 times and never scored. On my first goal it was just a one-timer from the blueline and I did not even lift the puck from the ice and it went five-hole and in. I was probably one of three ‘D’ without a goal so my first goal was pretty funny and all the guys laughed about it because I had so many chances (before the goal).”
Deslauriers learned a lot last season but says he learned a lot about what it takes to be a professional athlete.
“I think you have to act like a pro and when it is time to take care of your stuff then you have to do it,” said Deslauriers. “You do not need anyone to push you anymore. You have to eat well and train hard. I do not even think about it. But just being one year in as a professional, it helps you a lot (going into next season). I think your mindset should be that if you act like a pro and think like a pro then basically it will come (naturally). That is the main point I learned from last season.”
Morris expects Deslauriers’ progression path to follow other Monarchs player’s that enjoyed a productive second professional seasons.
“In year’s past, most players make a considerable jump with their understanding of the game (in their second professional season),” said Morris. “Nick is extremely hard working and is very sincere. He will do his best to contribute to the team in a way that is going to help us win.”
Entering his second season more mature and confident, Deslauriers seems primed for a breakout season with the Monarchs this October.