Goaltender Philippe Desrosiers is a guy who flew under the radar at times last season and he didn’t mind. It provided the motivation that helped push him to the No. 1 job with his junior team and then No. 1 job with Canada at the U18 World Championship.
“I like the challenge when I am under the radar or behind the scenes,” Desrosiers said. “I love to push the starter and to battle with him to be the starter.”
And landing those number one jobs helped push him up the draft rankings in the eyes of a lot of scouts, and led him to being a second round pick of the Dallas Stars in this summer’s NHL draft.
“That was amazing,” Desrosiers said.
It was kind of an amazing season for Desrosiers, who kept coming out of the shadows and grabbing the spotlight.
He began last season as the backup goaltender for the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and by the end of the season he was the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year after posting a 22-8-5 record, 3.07 goals against average and .900 save percentage in the high scoring QMJHL.
Desrosiers took over after Rimouski’s No. 1 goaltender, Carl Hozjan, suffered an injury in early November and never looked back thanks to an impressive performance once he was given the net and allowed to run with it.
He was the league’s 3rd Star of the Month after posting an 8-1-0 record, 2.49 goals against average and .914 save percentage.
“The No. 1 got injured and I played 20 games in a row and they ended up trading him because I was OK,” said Desrosiers. “They put me in every game after Christmas and it gave me confidence in the nets.”
The 17-year-old Desrosiers carried that confidence to the U18 World Championship in Sochi, Russia, where he was considered the No. 2 goaltender for Canada going into the tournament, but by the end of it he was the No. 1 guy and ended up being key as Canada won the gold medal.
After stopping 53 of 54 shots in his two preliminary round starts, Desrosiers was given the reins for the playoff round and he stopped 77 of 80 shots. In the gold medal game against the United States, Desrosiers was superb, making 33 saves as Canada defeated the U.S., 3-2, despite being outshot 35-12.
Desrosiers finished the tournament with a 5-0 record, 0.80 goals against average and .970 save percentage.
“It was amazing,” Desrosiers said of winning gold at the tournament. “It was a pretty good moment in my life. I played well and it helped with the draft.”
The playoff round of the U18 World Championship was just starting when NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings were released. Central Scouting had Desrosiers ranked seventh among North American goaltenders. He climbed in the rankings that came out after the tournament was over. TSN.ca had Desrosiers ranked fourth among all goaltenders and 41st overall. Red Line Report had him ranked third among all goaltenders and 47th among all players in the draft.
He ended up going in the second round (54th overall) in the draft to the Stars.
“It was a long wait, but I was ranked seventh,” Desrosiers said. “I was really excited to be drafted by Dallas.”
“We watched him all year. He was very good for Team Canada,” said Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill. “He’s very athletic and we like his upside. … You always like to draft a goalie every year and he was the right guy at the right time.”
Desrosiers admitted he was a little surprised to be taken by the Stars. He had one meeting with a Dallas scout a week prior to the draft.
“I had a good meeting with them. Maybe they loved me so they picked me,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a good pick I think.”
Time will tell on how good a pick, but the Stars love the potential of the Quebec native.
“He’s a talented kid with a great attitude,” said Stars Assistant General Manager Les Jackson. “I suspect the foundation is pretty secure. With continued coaching, games and all that, he has a chance to advance for sure.”
Desrosiers, who is listed at 6-1, 187 pounds, listed his demeanor in net as one of his key attributes.
“Really calm,” he said. “I love to challenge shooters, really good glove, good pads. I can play the puck also. … I need to work on my rebound control. Everybody does.”
Desrosiers was one of more than three dozen Dallas prospects to take part in the team’s development camp in Frisco earlier this month. He turned some heads and got a glowing review from Stars goaltending coach Mike Valley, who got his first in person look at the young netminder.
“Fantastic kid, really good kid,” said Valley. “Phenomenal with the stick, great puckhandler. Really good control, systematically and technically he’s really, really strong. There’s a lot to like about him. A lot of goalie coaches I’ve talked to around the league feel he was one of the best guys, and they all felt we got a really good guy here. After spending the last couple days with him, I can certainly agree that we got a good one.”
Desrosiers will be back with Rimouski this coming season. He won’t be flying anybody’s radar now and he wants to prove to the Stars that they made the right pick.
“I have to work hard and have a good season in Rimouski,” Desrosiers said. “And maybe I can sign a contract with the Dallas Stars.”
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