The Minnesota Wild locked up its leading minor league scorer last year, signing right wing Jean-Michel Daoust to a one-year contract. In his third American Hockey League season, Daoust led the Houston Aeros in scoring with 21 goals and 34 assists in 78 games.
"Jean-Michel had a great season to lead Houston in scoring and showcased his skill on a consistent basis," said Assistant to the General Manager Jim Mill, who also serves as the Aeros General Manager. "He has earned this opportunity."
The 26-year-old's contract is a two-way deal after he signed an AHL free agent contract last season. In a season full of Wild call-ups from Houston, Daoust wasn't eligible to join the NHL club unless the team had signed him mid-season, and tore up his AHL deal.
"I knew he was a really good player in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton," said Mill when asked if Daoust's production surprised him. "He worked his way up from the ECHL to the American League, and he never gave up. He always kept working, and he really did a great job last year."
The native of Valleyfield, Quebec played two previous seasons in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, including under then-Head Coach Todd Richards during the 2007-08 season. The following year, he turned in a 28-point performance (10-18=28).
At 5-foot-7, Daoust was the smallest player on the Aeros roster, yet many considered him to be the scrappiest. He would routinely get his nose dirty in the corners and in front of the net against much bigger players.
"That's when he's at his best," said Mill. "When he plays with an edge and stirs it up, he shows he's not just pure skill. He plays hockey, and he is a complete player. He's a playmaker. He scores a bit. He takes the body. He's an energy player. And, he's responsible defensively."
Mill finalized the deal for Daoust while continuing to search for a head coaching replacement for Kevin Constantine. Mill said he is still early in the process of developing his list of candidates.
"Right now, it's about getting the right person, not a timeline," he said.