When Nicolas Deschamps was taken at No. 35 by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2008 Entry Draft, he was the first skater chosen from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Deschamps, a center who plays for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, has impressive offensive talent but is a complete player. Deschamps was so valuable in his own zone that he was named the league's best defensive player.
"I'm a two-play player with good skills and make some good plays, good vision," Deschamps said. "I just compete every night and enjoy the game."
Deschamps had a very productive season in Chicoutimi. He had 24 goals and a league rookie-best 67 points. He earned an invitation to the 2008 CHL Top Prospects game and was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie team. It was such a good season that even he was surprised at his development in his first year.
"I didn't expect that good of a season, but it was all right," Deschamps said. "Just a little bit of adaptation at the beginning, but with the year going on, it was good for me just getting more confident."
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau also was surprised by the rookie season Deschamps put together.
"He came out of nowhere to be the top-ranked player in the QMJHL," Bordeleau said. "He is a very good skater who thinks the game well and has soft hands. He works hard, and the up-side to his skills makes us think he is going to be a pretty good all-round player. He was one of those players that kept improving to surprise a lot of people because the expectations for him were low at the beginning of the season."
But Deschamps isn't letting one successful season go to his head. He realizes he still needs to improve in all areas to make it to the NHL.
"I have to work on everything -- my shot, my skating, my physical play," Deschamps told McKeen's Hockey. "Strength-wise I'm not that bad. I work out three times a week. In the summer it's like every day."
All of his hard work earned Deschamps a spot on Team Canada for the Under-18 World Championship last spring. He scored three goals in seven games as Canada won the gold medal.
"It's always a good experience and good feeling to play for your country," Deschamps said. "Also to win the gold, so it was amazing. We had a good bunch of guys. (Coach) Pat Quinn is a great man. He's been through a lot of hockey -- just listening to him. He's so calm. He's a calm guy. Just watch him to do his speech and everything. He enjoys the game a lot."
"He came out of nowhere to be the top-ranked player in the QMJHL (for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft)."
--Chris Bordeleau, NHL Central Scouting
Unfortunately for Deschamps, he was denied a second championship last season when Chicoutimi was defeated by the Quebec Remparts in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs, but he tied for second on the team in playoff scoring with two goals and three assists for five points in the six-game series.
Deschamps was rated No. 21 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, but Anaheim General Manager Brian Burke was happy to get Deschamps in the second round, and compared him to Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow.
"That's the biggest cliché in the draft, that we couldn't believe he was there, but we had him rated higher," Burke told The Orange County Register. "When talking about him in scouting meetings, the term that kept coming back is that he is a Brenden Morrow clone. That's pretty high praise."