When Guillaume Monast was 18, he thought his hockey career was over. Two years later, it’s just beginning.
Monast, now 20, turned his career around two seasons ago when he went from a spare part with the Val-d’Or Foreurs to No. 2 defenceman with the Halifax Mooseheads after being traded for star goaltender Jeremy Duchesne.
“I thought my career was over in Val-d’Or, and when I got traded for Duchesne, I said, ‘Oh my God, do they know who they traded him for?’” Monast recalled. “But when I first got to Halifax, I realized I could play in the league.”
The Longueuil, Que., native is now with the Quebec Remparts after being dealt in the off-season as part of the Mooseheads’ trade for Brad Marchand. But Monast took a major step forward in September, when he tried out for the Dallas Stars and played his way into a three-year NHL contract.
“I went with no expectations, but every game went better and better,” said Monast, who played in an eight-team prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich., before being invited to Dallas’s main training camp.
“I couldn’t believe it. My style of play was fitting into the NHL style, and I ended up getting a contract.”
It was a huge accomplishment for Monast, who was never drafted or even talked about as an NHL prospect.
“It was a dream come true,” Monast said. “Every day at camp, I was like, ‘Oh my God, is this a dream?’”
The Stars don’t have their own American Hockey League affiliate, so it made more sense for them to send Monast back to the QMJHL to play for the Remparts.
He pairs with rugged Kevin Marshall on the team’s No. 1 defence unit and has four goals, 21 assists and a plus-22 rating in 45 games.
This counts as a year of his contract. Next year, he’s expected to join the Stars’ new AHL team in Austin, Tex.
“In two years, I’ll know if I’m ready to do the big jump and really know if I can be a pro hockey player for life,” Monast said. “This is what I want to do, but this is a big test.
“I really want this to go well.”