When the Halifax Mooseheads drafted Simon Desmarais, they spoke openly about sending him back to midget AAA this season.
But the 16-year-old forced the hand of head coach and general manager Cam Russell, outplaying a number of older, higher-drafted players who were ahead of him on the depth chart and cracking the club’s opening-night roster.
“When that happens, it’s unfair to just give a roster spot to someone everybody thinks should be there,” Russell said. “He’s played well enough to earn a spot on this hockey team, so that’s why he stays.”
Desmarais had just four assists in 42 games last season with College Antoine-Girouard in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.
His stats certainly aren’t eye-popping and may never be, but the five-foot-11 181-pounder’s defensive play and reliability are off the charts.
The Mooseheads drafted him in the second round, 28th overall, in June.
“He has great ability, his skating is excellent,” Russell said.
“We had no choice — we had to keep him. He played that well.”