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Making up for lost time

Returning from a season-ending injury, Jaedon Descheneau is ready to show the hockey world that he's still a contender

by Meg Tilley @MegsTilley / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - It was the hardest call Jaedon Descheneau would have to make in his young hockey career.

After four years of tearing up the rink with the Kootenay Ice, the Beaumont, Alta. native's fifth season with the Western Hockey League team was cut short when he separated his shoulder in a banal play in only his second game of the 2015-16 season.

"I got hit in the neutral zone, I didn't have the puck, it was just a collision - harmless collision - both of us didn't see each other and my shoulder came out and I left the game," said Descheneau. "I did rehab for about a month and it still didn't get any better."

Descheneau, who played for the Leduc Oil Kings bantam AAA team, was selected by Kootenay in the third round, 62nd overall, of the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.

"A couple years before I had issues with my shoulder…but it was nothing too serious," said Descheneau. "And then it just gradually got worse and worse and it got to a point where I needed it to get fixed."

Without intentionally making a bad situation worse, the St. Louis Blues - who selected the 21-year-old in the fifth round of the 2014 draft - made the decision not to extend the young scorer an entry-level contract, making him a free agent.

But there is a reason that Descheneau was selected 124th overall by the Blues.

The right-winger accumulated 272 points (111G, 161A) over the course of his 265-game WHL career, including a career-high 44 goals and 98 points during the 2013-14 season.

He showed consistency, finishing second only to Buffalo Sabres prospect and Kootenay teammate Sam Reinhart in team scoring in 2013-14 and finishing sixth in the entire WHL in scoring with 34 goals in 2014-15.

Despite the unfortunate end to his WHL career, Descheneau is on a new path now.

After receiving an invitation to attend the Oilers Orientation Camp in early July in Jasper, the 5-foot-9, 192-pound winger left an impression on the development staff that worked with the young group of prospects.

"He has a lot of offensive ability; he skates really well…. he was just available," said Rick Carriere, Oilers Senior Director of Player Development. "He was sitting around, St. Louis didn't sign him, so we just decided to bring him to our development camp and guys liked him there so we brought him forward and gave him a contract."

On July 28, a few weeks following camp, the Bakersfield Condors capitalized on Descheneau's free-agency status, announcing that the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate had signed the winger to an AHL contract for the 2016-17 season.

"For some players [not being signed] might affect their confidence, but for others, it might motivate them," said Carriere. "I think with Jaedon, it probably motivated him, all he needed was an opportunity. And so I think the opportunity that we're putting out in front of him right now, hopefully he's going to jump at that and make something of it."

On September 17, after taking 11 months to recover from his shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery, Descheneau played in his first hockey game with the Oilers rookies at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, BC.

"It wasn't bad," said Descheneau on his first game back in 11 months. "I skated a lot in the summer with the prospects here, so I had a lot of time to prepare. Obviously, I felt a little rusty at times but it got better throughout the game."

Descheneau proved to be the hero for the Oilers rookies that night.

Facing off against their provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames rookies, the game was to be decided in three-on-three overtime. Less than a minute into play, Oilers forward Chad Butcher spotted Descheneau in the neutral zone after a turnover in the Edmonton defensive zone. Butcher sent the puck up the ice to his teammate, and Descheneau capitalized on a breakaway, burying the puck for the 4-3 overtime win.

"It was a good pass by Butchie and a turnover in the d-zone to spring me on a breakaway and I did my best to score and thankfully it went in," said Descheneau, having capped off the night with two points (1G, 1A), providing a glimpse of what this NHL-hopeful can bring to a team when they need it most.

Video: 2016 Young Stars - 3rd Period & OT - Oilers v. Flames

Securing the rookies their second win of the tournament, contributing to their third consecutive Young Stars tournament win, Descheneau played two of the three games in Penticton, finishing the run with three points (2G, 1A) and earning an invitation to be one of 61 players to attend Oilers Main Camp.

"[Rookie camp] is a good stepping stone to get your feet wet for the season and training camp," he said. "You get to play with the best of your age and a little older, so it helps you really get prepared for the upcoming season.

"Even previous camps that I was at in St. Louis, there's a whole bunch of stuff that I've learned from at the pro level so I've just taken everything that I've learned - and the work ethic from the other guys - and bring it to here and do what I can to earn myself a spot."

"You're always looking for skill, and he's got the ability to make plays at high speed," said Carriere. "He shoots the puck really well, he's got an excellent release, and he's a quality kid too - he's very coachable."

Now, Descheneau is one step closer to hopefully one day playing with the team he grew up cheering for. But for now, he's content in using his time at Oilers Main Camp to the best of his ability, regaining his momentum, producing points consistently and preparing for his upcoming 2016-17 season with the Condors.

"[I want to] play my best and make a name for myself," said Descheneau. "I was out all last year, so I kind of want to get playing and get back up there and be at the peak of my game again. And my goal is obviously to stay in Bakersfield all year and play there and do the best I can and help the team win."

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