Jaedon Descheneau may have gone unsigned by the St. Louis Blues — the NHL club that drafted him back in 2014 — but he hasn’t been forgotten by pro scouts.
The Bakersfield Condors — American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers — announced the signing of Descheneau, 21, to a one-year AHL contract Thursday afternoon.
The 2015-16 season was one to forget for Descheneau — a native of Edmonton — after he only suited up for two games with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice.
After being returned to the club from Blues training camp, Descheneau was injured in only his second game back with the Ice, separating his shoulder on a completely innocuous non-hockey play, an incidental collision away from the puck.
That was Oct. 6, 2015, in Prince Albert. By Nov. 16, the Ice had announced Descheneau was set to undergo season-ending surgery to repair the damage suffered.
It was a crushing blow for the 5-foot-9, 190-pound sniper, who had returned to Cranbrook intent on tearing up the Western League in his final year of eligibility and earning himself an entry-level NHL contract with the Blues.
“I learned a lot about what it takes to be a pro, about how they work — even in summer skates, how competitive they are, which brought that upon me,” Descheneau said upon his initial return to Cranbrook from Blues camp. “Now, I think I’ve grown up a bit. It really helped me become a more mature person.”
Despite the unfortunate end to his WHL career, there’s good reason why the Blues originally selected the speedy winger with a fifth-round pick (124th) in 2014.
Descheneau amassed 111 goals and 272 points over the course of his 265-game WHL career, including a career-high 44 goals and 98 points during the 2013-14 season. He added another 15 goals and 31 points in 29 WHL post-season contests and represented the league at the Russia-Canada Super Series on two separate occasions (2013 and 2014).
“Desch is an unbelievable player,” said Luke Philp — a former teammate of Descheneau’s with the Ice — back in September 2015. “He’s a great player to play with. He obviously brings a ton to the table for our team and a lot of offensive ability. He’s probably one of the best playmakers I’ve ever played with.”
In addition to representing the WHL at the Russia-Canada Super Series, Descheneau was named to the league’s Eastern Conference second all-star team in 2013-14.
Selected by the Kootenay Ice in the third round (62nd) of the bountiful 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, Descheneau spent his entire WHL career in Cranbrook, leaving fans with plenty of memories during his time.
During the 2014 WHL Playoffs, Descheneau showed his big-game prowess on more than one occasion.
In Game 5 of the team’s first-round series with the Calgary Hitmen, Sam Reinhart dished a cross-ice pass to Descheneau who cashed in on the play with less than one second remaining on the clock in the second period. The play went on to be reviewed by the WHL war room, before it was deemed a good goal. The marker stood as the game-winning tally and sent the Ice back to Cranbrook with a 3-2 series lead. Boosted by the return of Tim Bozon and a raucous crowd in Game 6, the Ice knocked off the Hitmen to move on to the next round.
In Game 4 of the team’s second-round series with the Medicine Hat Tigers, the Ice fell behind 4-1 early before the feisty Descheneau decided to change the face of the outcome.
Descheneau opened the scoring in the first period before the Tigers rattled off four consecutive markers to chase starting goaltender Mackenzie Skapski. After Philp and Reinhart combined to pull the home team within one, Descheneau scored two more with his hat-trick marker standing as the game-winning goal yet again.
The victory gave the Ice a commanding 3-1 series lead, however, the Tigers stormed back to win the series in seven games.
Finally, in the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss on Dec. 5, 2014 against the Spokane Chiefs, Descheneau brought bears raining to the ice at Western Financial Place a mere 41 seconds into regulation — a lightning-quick strike.
The 2015-16 AHL campaign saw the Condors finish fifth in the Pacific Division with a record of 31-28-7-2, just missing out on post-season play.
Cranbrook native Ben Betker, formerly of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips and a draft pick of the Oilers, played 14 games with Bakersfield in 2015-16.
The Condors play out of the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, Calif., a city of approximately 370,000 people located approximately 190 kilometres north of Los Angeles.