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Tampa Bay Lightning sign Jaydon Dureau to entry level contract

2020 5th round prospect now under contract.

Scott Thomas Photography

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Jaydon Dureau to a three-year entry-level contract. A fifth round pick by the Lightning in 2020, Dureau has spent most of the past four seasons playing for the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL. Dureau, who normally plays on the left wing, is on the smaller side being listed at 5’11” and 174 pounds.

Dureau is a bit of a late bloomer as a prospect. He was initially eligible for the NHL Entry Draft in 2019 and was not selected after posting 12 goals and 29 points in 67 games for the Winterhawks. He picked it up in his next season with a move up the line-up and recorded 19 goals and 70 points in 61 games before the 2019-20 season was shut down due to the pandemic.

In 2020-21, Dureau started the season on load to the Melville Millionaires of the SJHL as the WHL had yet to start up and he recorded 7 goals and 11 points. Then the SJHL was also shutdown and Dureau spent some time in Syracuse. With the Crunch as the AHL relaxed its rules on the eligibility of players in junior hockey, he recorded one assist in two games. Shortly after the AHL season began, the WHL got going and he returned to Portland where he put up 10 goals and 31 points in 24 games.

At the beginning of the 2021-22 season, Dureau started with the Syracuse Crunch on an Amateur Try-Out as the Lightning were still evaluating him. Since this was his 20-year old season, he was eligible to play in the AHL. Dureau recorded a goal in three games, but due in part to the glut of forwards in Syracuse, the Lightning decided to send him back to the WHL for an overage season, In 49 games for Portland, he recorded 24 goals and 65 points. He added another goal and six points in nine playoff games.

When the Lightning drafted Dureau, there was a lot of doubt about him in his second year of draft eligibility. He moved up the depth chart and played along side Seth Jarvis and Reece Newkirk. Jarvis was a 1st round pick, 13th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the same draft and jumped into the line-up with the Hurricanes this season without extra development time in the AHL. Jarvis recorded 17 goals and 40 points in 68 games and has recorded three goals and six points in nine playoff games so far. Suffice to say, Jarvis is a talented player that even as a rookie has looked like a bona fide top six guy.

This season however, Dureau did not have the benefit of Jarvis at the top of the line up with him. He finished fifth on Portland in scoring, just also played less games than the other top players on the roster and scored at a similar points per game pace as top scorer and second round pick Cross Hanas.

Dureau is very much a playmaker. Throughout his WHL career, he’s consistently recorded more assists than goals and by a pretty decent margin. He has good hockey sense and skills with the puck. He also has good skating, but is on the small size. To be successful in the pros, he’ll need to work on his strength and outwork bigger and faster opponents. We’ll also have to see how well his hockey IQ translates to the pros compared to the WHL.

With Dureau, the Lightning have a bit of a lottery ticket with him as a prospect. The most likely outcome positive outcome for Dureau is that he becomes a productive third liner that provides depth scoring, but there’s a high possibility he is just a very good AHLer. If things break his way and his skill translates to the pros and especially into the NHL and he can keep up physically, then there’s always the chance that he develops into a second line playmaker that can contribute on the power play. That outcome is much more in doubt, but the potential is always there when you have a skilled forward prospect. It all comes down to if he can translate his skills and thinking to the professional level.

He has yet to appear in our Top 25 Under 25 series since being drafted, highlighting the fact that his future as a prospect is just unknown.

The Lightning have a good track record of developing smaller forwards like Dureau into valuable NHL contributors. With the salary cap crunch constantly looming, the Lightning need for prospects like Dureau to work out more often than not to fill in the holes around their star players. If Dureau can progress quickly, there will certainly be an opportunity for him to grab a roster in spot in two or three seasons.