Jaydon Dureau took a giant step towards realizing that ultimate dream of playing in the National Hockey League. Riding the momentum of a breakthrough 70- point campaign for the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, this 19- year-old left winger experienced a huge thrill when in October’s 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he was selected fifth round, 147 overall by the Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning.
Normally, the NHL draft is held in late June, at a pre-destinated NHL arena, where those drafted players get to live out a dream of hearing their name being called and walking out on stage to shake hands with team management before putting on a team jersey and posing for pictures.
However, due to COVID-19 these aren’t exactly normal times and as a result, the two -day draft was held online, which of course meant that family and prospects stayed home and followed proceedings on their computer. Dureau, who is from White City Saskatchewan, just completed his second season with Portland, where he broke though with 19 goals and 51 assists before the pandemic halted what was remaining of the season.
Instead of watching the draft proceedings online, Dureau was dealing with the nerves and excitement by golfing with friends when his parents called with the good news about being drafted by the Lightning. “I was really stressed and nervous so I wanted to get out of the house and be with some of my closer friends,” he said. Dureau, whose mother is from the Athahkakoop First Nation in Sask, went on to add, “We (friends) all went golfing and near the 17th hole, I got a call from my agent and parents.
They all started texting me and congratulating me to let me know the good news.” In terms of his reaction to getting drafted an excited Dureau stated, “To be selected by a team that just won and they want you to be a part of their team, it’s a tremendous honour and I’m very grateful.” Usually after being drafted, that prospect would head off to development camp, where he would meet the staff and get familiar with the team, but that obviously didn’t happen this year due to COVID-19. As a result, each prospect such as Dureau, got to know their respective club officials through Zoom calls.
“I’d much rather be able to go to Tampa to skate with everybody and meet everybody in person,” Dureau said. The WHL are targeting for an early January start to the 2020/21 season, but as of right now nothing is certain. Right now, Dureau is hoping for the opportunity to suit up for the Melville Millionaires who are a Junior ‘A’ team playing out of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, or (SJHL) for short.