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Mikael Diotte thought of his grandmother when he put pen to paper last week to sign his first NHL contract.

She was the first to take Diotte skating as young boy. She holds a very special place in his life and she was the one Diotte was thinking of when he put pen to paper on his first NHL contract.

“She was the one who really showed me hockey,” Diotte shared of his grandmother who passed away two years ago. "She was the one who took me skating, who showed me how to skate. I'm doing this for me, of course, but I'm doing this for her too. I'm always thinking of her. I know she is so proud of me."

"She was my biggest supporter," he continued, "She never missed a single game or practice up until she got sick. She's a person who really saw me evolve as a hockey player and she really inspires me for all those reasons."

The 6-foot-3 defender then thought about how she would have reacted knowing that not only was her grandson now a part of the same organization as fellow Quebecer Martin Brodeur, but that Mikael was welcomed to the club by Brodeur himself in a phone call.

It’s a big deal for any hockey fan, but even moreso for Quebec-born hockey players.

“(New Jersey) was a team that even when I was a kid I liked,” began Diotte, “Even though I’m a skater, I was always a fan of Martin Brodeur. He was my Dad’s favorite player ever since he was little. When (Brodeur) was playing in New Jersey, I was watching clips, I watched (clips) of them winning the Stanley Cup.”

The younger Diotte said his father was probably the one who thought it was the coolest that Brodeur was speakiing to his son.

"He was a little jealous of me, I think," he laughed. "(Brodeur) has been one of his idols since he was younger. He was really jealous.

"I was so stressed. I wasn't nervous for any of the interviews (with the team) but when my agent texted me to tell me that Martin Brodeur was going to call me, I was nervous. But it was great."

A phone call with Brodeur is one thing, but now a member of the organization, he'll be fully entrenched and likely cross paths once in a while with the Hall of Fame goaltender.

This will be Diotte’s last year in the Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League and will move into the professional part of his hockey career next season.

Diotte, 20, has played the past four seasons with the Drummondville Voltigeurs and is currently having a career year with 40 points in 57 games (10g-30a). He describes himself as a two-way defenseman, who has been able to flourish with his numbers this season having taken on a bigger role as one of only four 20-year-olds to have played for the Voltigeurs this season.

"I'm a defenseman that can be put in any situation, the PK, the power play, the beginning of games, the ends of games. One of my biggest assets is my physicality. I'm a defenseman that's able to play with a physical edge and I'm a defenseman who is reliable."


Mikael Diotte signs his Entry-Level Contract with the Devils in Drummondville, QC

When Diotte gets the chance to join the organization in person, whether it be a Development Camp or a Rookie/Training Camp, he's become well versed on expectations of NHL organizations. He has attended three different rookie and development camps as an invite, making stops in Anaheim, Colorado and Calgary, each time taking a little something more away from the experience.

“The first year, it was so stressful,” Diotte recalled, "I really had no idea what to expect. There were big names, players who had been drafted, but I went into it thinking I really had nothing to lose, I have no pressure. I just wanted to show my talent and who I am. I learned to not put too much pressure on myself, a just give everything I've got."

Now he hopes to put it into practice in New Jersey. For Diotte, it’s all about leaving an impression every time he’s able to. Having had the previous experience at other camps, Diotte says he was able to put into practice really what it means to make the jump to the professional level, whether that be the American Hockey League of the NHL.

"For me what really stood out was, between Junior and the pro level, its two completely different worlds," he shared, "In Junior, you have someone who is following you, making sure you're doing the right thing, have your meals. But in pro, it's really adult life.

"Everyone does their own thing, everyone takes care of themselves, it makes you see that it's really a job... it's a job, but the best job in the world to play a game," he continued, "But to see the professional level, how they do things it really inspired me for my Junior years to mature in all aspects of my life."

That maturity has now led him to his first NHL contract as an undrafted player.

"All I want to do is have a really good camp and show them that they made the right decision in signing me to a contract," he said, "That will all start with camp and whatever role they want me to take. Realistically, I'll start in the American Hockey League, develop there, and the rest, we'll see what happens."

Joining an organization like New Jersey was a no-brainer for the young defenseman. It's just another step in the journey started by Diotte and his grandmother all those years ago when she would pick him up from school and take him to open skates at the local rinks. He gets to take another step toward being a professional hockey player and continue the path his grandmother set him on all those years ago. It's something that Diotte has immense thanks for.

“It was the best moment of my life, I was so happy," he said, "They’ve given me hope that my dream to play in the National Hockey League could be real."

Photo Credit: Ghyslain Bergeron, Voltigeurs Drummondville