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Worth the Wait

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

Nicolas Deschamps sat for four hours into the night at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa during the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, listening to 30 different names get called. Not one of them was his.

Deschamps, ranked as the No. 21 skater in North American, hoped he’d be among those selections, but the soft-spoken 18-year-old did not lose much sleep later that night. He came right back the next morning, waiting patiently for someone to take him. And the Ducks didn’t make him wait long, as they made him the fifth pick of the second round (35th overall).

For Deschamps, having to wait until Day 2 “was no big deal. I was a little bit disappointed about it, but it’s not the end of the world. I was happy to finally get picked by the Anaheim Ducks. I didn’t expect that. It’s a great team to play hockey for.”

There was no frantic pacing or tossing and turning for the 6-foot-0, 173-pound forward, especially since he had been in that position before. Deschamps was passed over completely at the 2006 draft for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Only 15 years old then, Deschamps returned to midget hockey and became one of his league’s leading scorers. When the 2007 QMJHL Draft rolled around, he was snapped up by Chicoutimi (in Saguenay, Quebec) with the 12th overall selection.

Deschamps was the second leading scorer on Chicoutimi and first among QMJHL rookies with 67 points.
As a rookie last season, Deschamps’ game began to rapidly develop around Christmas, and it would continue through the playoffs, attracting the eye of many scouts including the Ducks Director of Amateur Scouting Alain Chainey.

“Right off the bat, we could see that this kid has some talent and a lot of character,” Chainey said. “After Christmas, he was better and better every game that we saw him play. In the playoffs, I saw him play against the Quebec Remparts. It was jam packed with 15,000 people and he was the best player on the ice by far. Many scouts were there the same game that I was. It was a consensus for us that we liked him as a player.”

By the end of the season, Deschamps was the second leading scorer on Chicoutimi and first among league rookies with 67 points. Along with being named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team, he proved to be a strong two-way player as he was also named the league’s Best Defensive Player. Not bad for a kid that couldn’t even gain entrance one season prior.

“It just happened,” Deschamps said. “I didn’t expect that. I was just going there to play on the third line and maybe 40 points would be good. To play on the first line and first power play was amazing for me to show off my talents for the scouts.”

“There’s no winter here,” Deschamps said. “It’s always hot, so that’s good. It’s amazing to be with these players and the people of the coaching staff.”
Having Deschamps around 20th overall on their draft board, the Ducks initially considered the young forward for selection with their 28th pick at the Entry Draft. After deciding to trade that pick to Phoenix for the 35th and 39th selections, the Ducks crossed their fingers that their guy would still be available the next morning. Fortunately, he was.

“He was a very good player that we would like to have had at the end of the first round,” Chainey said. “We were lucky enough that he was still there in the second round, so we couldn’t wait to grab him.”

In California for the first time of his life for this week’s conditioning camp with the at Anaheim Ice, Deschamps is captivated by the new surroundings on and off the ice.

“There’s no winter here,” Deschamps said. “It’s always hot, so that’s good. It’s amazing to be with these players and the people of the coaching staff.”

After conditioning camps concludes on Thursday, Deschamps (a Lasalle, Quebec native) will return to Toronto through August to workout with Edmonton’s Sam Gagner and Ottawa’s Mike Fisher. He’ll return for his second trip to California during training camp and from there, his future and the chance to once again prove people wrong begins.

“This is something big for me,” Deschamps said. “I didn’t expect this two years ago. I’m trying to enjoy the moment. I will play hard and try to make the team as fast as I can.”
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