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William Dufour is at residence now. Resting, enjoyable, ready. It’s a uncommon second between whirlwinds.
On Wednesday night time, Dufour watched a puck slide into an empty web and danced across the ice in Saint John, New Brunswick with the Memorial Cup — the trophy awarded to Canada’s junior hockey champion — and the event MVP. Quickly sufficient, he’ll fly from Quebec to New York to affix the Islanders for a growth camp at which he will probably be an unlikely focal point.
“We had an enormous 12 months, an enormous 12 months, an extended 12 months,” Dufour instructed The Put up in a cellphone name Sunday. “We have been in Saint John [celebrating] however then everyone got here residence. I’m in Quebec proper now, it’s simply good to be right here with my household, to have these moments. We have to benefit from the second.”
Dufour, a fifth-round decide for the Islanders two summers in the past, has performed himself onto the radar after a season through which he led the Quebec Main Junior League in targets (56), completed second in factors (116) and seventh in assists (60). Even for a 20-year-old — the oldest age allowed in junior hockey — that does elevate eyebrows. Dufour earned a three-year entry take care of the Islanders in April, following that with seven targets within the tournament-style Memorial Cup to take residence MVP honors.
The spotlight of that was a pure hat trick in a 6:36 span to drag his Saint John Sea Canines again from a three-goal deficit of their final round-robin recreation, sealing a berth within the closing. After that efficiency, Dufour could be very a lot on the map.
“The elite a part of him is his shot,” Sea Canines interim coach Gardiner MacDougall instructed The Put up. “He can get to spots, he’s bought an ideal launch. I believe for an enormous man, his first three steps are actually quick.”
When MacDougall changed Gordie Dwyer as coach on Might 22, he began enjoying Dufour at middle as a substitute of completely on the wing, displaying him clips of Auston Matthews to assist develop his recreation in all three zones.
“I believed he was actually good within the defensive zone,” MacDougall mentioned. “He can cease his ft after which get well rapidly. Some folks gotta maintain shifting their ft, they maintain their velocity up. He can play down low and create a free puck and he’s bought an actual quick begin.”
“Performs with lots of emotion,” texted Edmonton Oil Kings coach Brad Lauer, whose staff confronted Dufour within the event. “Huge man that likes to shoot the puck. For an enormous man, he does a very good job getting in place to shoot the puck.”
Whether or not Dufour begins subsequent season with AHL Bridgeport or on Lengthy Island is an open query, a testomony to how a lot his inventory has risen.
“For certain I’m going for it, going to camp with a function,” Dufour mentioned. “Everyone’s going there to make the staff for certain. I’m gonna do all the pieces I can to attempt to have a spot and get the leads to September.”
Lauer mentioned that enjoying within the NHL as quickly as subsequent 12 months could be a “large step to take,” however he expects Dufour to take action in time. For the Islanders, whose system is considerably barren, Dufour would possibly now be one of many group’s finest prospects.
Although Dufour hasn’t heard from new head coach Lane Lambert, the group has been in frequent contact at ranges starting from space scouts to basic supervisor Lou Lamoriello. Heart and fellow French-Canadian Jean-Gabriel Pageau despatched a textual content after the Memorial Cup victory.
Dufour, whose season began again on Oct. 1, plans to take about two weeks or so to loosen up. The break will probably be well-deserved.
Although his efficiency earned him a significant uptick in consideration, Dufour has tried to steer clear of it. He was off Twitter and Instagram in the course of the Memorial Cup, calling social media a distraction. He nonetheless hasn’t opened Twitter.
“To complete your junior profession like that, it’s simply one thing that I don’t assume I’m in actual life proper now,” Dufour mentioned. “It’s simply loopy.”
Now, it’s about what comes subsequent.