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William Dufour sets sights on Islanders after dominating juniors

William Dufour is at dwelling now. Resting, enjoyable, ready. It’s a uncommon second between whirlwinds.

On Wednesday evening, Dufour watched a puck slide into an empty internet and danced across the ice in Saint John, New Brunswick with the Memorial Cup — the trophy awarded to Canada’s junior hockey champion — and the match MVP. Quickly sufficient, he’ll fly from Quebec to New York to affix the Islanders for a growth camp at which he might be an unlikely focus.

“We had an enormous yr, an enormous yr, a protracted yr,” Dufour informed The Submit in a cellphone name Sunday. “We had been in Saint John [celebrating] however then all people got here dwelling. I’m in Quebec proper now, it’s simply good to be right here with my household, to have these moments. We have to benefit from the second.”

Dufour, a fifth-round choose for the Islanders two summers in the past, has performed himself onto the radar after a season during which he led the Quebec Main Junior League in targets (56), completed second in factors (116) and seventh in assists (60). Even for a 20-year-old — the oldest age allowed in junior hockey — that does elevate eyebrows. Dufour earned a three-year entry cope with the Islanders in April, following that with seven targets within the tournament-style Memorial Cup to take dwelling MVP honors.

William Dufour
AP

The spotlight of that was a pure hat trick in a 6:36 span to tug his Saint John Sea Canine again from a three-goal deficit of their final round-robin recreation, sealing a berth within the closing. After that efficiency, Dufour may be very a lot on the map.

“The elite a part of him is his shot,” Sea Canine interim coach Gardiner MacDougall informed The Submit. “He can get to spots, he’s received an ideal launch. I believe for an enormous man, his first three steps are actually quick.”

When MacDougall changed Gordie Dwyer as coach on Might 22, he began taking part in Dufour at middle as a substitute of completely on the wing, exhibiting him clips of Auston Matthews to assist develop his recreation in all three zones.

“I assumed he was actually good within the defensive zone,” MacDougall mentioned. “He can cease his toes after which recuperate shortly. Some folks gotta hold shifting their toes, they hold their velocity up. He can play down low and create a free puck and he’s received an actual quick begin.”

“Performs with lots of emotion,” texted Edmonton Oil Kings coach Brad Lauer, whose crew confronted Dufour within the match. “Large man that likes to shoot the puck. For an enormous man, he does a extremely good job getting in place to shoot the puck.”

Whether or not Dufour begins subsequent season with AHL Bridgeport or on Lengthy Island is an open query, a testomony to how a lot his inventory has risen.

“For certain I’m going for it, going to camp with a objective,” Dufour mentioned. “Everyone’s going there to make the crew for certain. I’m gonna do every thing I can to attempt to have a spot and get the ends in September.”

William Dufour
William Dufour
Getty Pictures

Lauer mentioned that taking part in within the NHL as quickly as subsequent yr can be a “large step to take,” however he expects Dufour to take action in time. For the Islanders, whose system is considerably barren, Dufour would possibly now be one of many group’s finest prospects.

Although Dufour hasn’t heard from new head coach Lane Lambert, the group has been in frequent contact at ranges starting from space scouts to basic supervisor Lou Lamoriello. Middle and fellow French-Canadian Jean-Gabriel Pageau despatched a textual content after the Memorial Cup victory.

Dufour, whose season began again on Oct. 1, plans to take about two weeks or so to calm down. The break might be well-deserved.

Although his efficiency earned him a significant uptick in consideration, Dufour has tried to avoid it. He was off Twitter and Instagram through the Memorial Cup, calling social media a distraction. He nonetheless hasn’t opened Twitter.

“To complete your junior profession like that, it’s simply one thing that I don’t assume I’m in actual life proper now,” Dufour mentioned. “It’s simply loopy.”

Now, it’s about what comes subsequent.

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