Defenseman Samuel Girard is in his rookie season in the NHL after the Colorado Avalanche acquired him from the Nashville Predators in a three-team trade on Nov. 5. The 5-foot-10, 162-pound Canadian was selected in the second round (47th overall) of the 2016 draft by Nashville and made his NHL debut with the Predators this season on Oct. 10.
His first game with the Avs came in Stockholm, Sweden, on Nov. 10, when the team played the Ottawa Senators in the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series.
From Roberval, Quebec, Girard spent three seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Shawinigan Cataractes from 2014 to 2017. In his last two campaigns with the Cataractes, the blueliner tallied 149 points (19 goals, 130 assists) in 129 contests, averaging more than a point per game each year.
Girard's play helped him be named to the QMJHL First All-Star Team twice (2016-2017) and earn the Canadian Hockey League Sportsman of the Year and the Emile Bouchard Trophy as the QMJHL Defenseman of the Year in 2016.
The 19-year-old talked about the trade and his transition on and off the ice with Colorado.
How was the day of the trade for you?
"It was a big day, a busy day. I was in L.A. with Nashville and sleeping in my bed, and I woke up to three missed calls and three texts from my agent. I called him back, and he told me I was traded. He told me I needed to go to Sweden, and I said, "Where? Why do you want me to go to Sweden?" He told me that the Avs were playing two games there so I had to go there to join the team. So I packed my luggage, my hockey bag, everything. My flight was at 9 p.m., and I arrived at the airport around 7 p.m., so it was a busy day."
Were you surprised to be traded?
"I saw some rumors on Twitter and social media so I had an idea, but you never know with those things. I was kind of surprised like 10 minutes after he called, but after that I was just excited to join the Avalanche. It's a young team, and they want to build. We are pretty good right now, so we just need to play our game."
Do you like being a part of such a young team?
"Yeah, for sure. I think in Nashville, it was tough to find a spot there. They are pretty good defensively, so I was pretty happy to join a young team and to play here."
You had never been to Colorado before being traded to the Avs. How have you liked being in Denver?
"It's nice. When I first arrived here, I saw the mountains and everything. I really liked seeing that, and I like the weather as well. It's not like Quebec and minus-30 degrees, so I really like it here."
How has your transition to the Avalanche been?
"Pretty good. I think the staff, the organization, my teammates, all the veterans have helped me to be a better player and a better person as well. When I have tough times, they are there for me and everything, so it is pretty good to be here with them."
You've played with Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie at points this season, what has it been like to play with them and learn from veteran players like that?
"I love to play with Johnson and to play with Barrie as well. They are pretty good defensive players in the league, pretty good offensively as well. It is good for me, I think. I need to watch them in every game and every practice. I want to be like them in the future."
How long have you been playing hockey?
"I started playing hockey at 4 years old. My father started me back home. So I started at 4 and now at this point in my life I just know that it is what I want to do with my life."
What do you like to do in your free time?
"During the season, I would say I just relax. When I have a day off, that is what I want to do, relax and take care of my body. During the summer, I like fishing. It's relaxing more than anything."
Did any family come out here with you? Have they come to watch you play yet?
"My girlfriend is out here with me, but the rest of my family is back home in Quebec. They came out earlier this season, so it was pretty fun to have them here."