A descendant of Cree First Nations in Canada, Jaydon Dureau was a fifth round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2020 Draft. Playing for the Portland Winterhawks (now with a more tasteful logo), Dureau was an alternate captain and finished fifth in team scoring with 66 points in 49 games, which was also good for second in points per game.
After two seasons in the Bolts system, the Lightning liked what they saw in him enough that they gave him an ELC after his age 20/21 year. He’ll now to go to the Syracuse Crunch where he’ll have three years to prove he can be a top player there and a useful player to the Lightning. A big hurdle for CHL players going to the AHL without any men’s league experience is getting accustomed to the pace, relentlessness, and the heightened responsibility.
Players like Dureau who don’t get to play high in the lineup tend to develop these skills quicker and there’s less of a learning curve as that type of play was mostly what they were already doing on a WHL third line. Plus having five pro games under your belt to think about during the offseason and training won’t hurt.
Dureau is a hard working left winger with silky hands and fun offensive upside. His ceiling is probably the third line where he can be an occasional producer and overall forechecking grinder. I think the biggest value the Lightning can find in him would be his speed and quick stick to be able to stretch the defense and create rush chances. He is also able to use his hands in tight in front of the net for chances. When he played for the Crunch he played behind the net or in front of it on the second power play unit and was leveraged in tic-tac-toe plays or for rebounds. I think as he physically matures this part of his game will bear more fruit.
After rewatching one of Dureau’s games with the Crunch recently, I was able to look more closely and find that the learning curve for him to playing against men is still real. He didn’t fight through the hit on him to win the puck fairly consistently. I don’t think this is an attitude issue so much as the fact he’s 174 lbs and can’t physically do it yet.
What gives me encouragement not only is his ability to play physical against his own age group, but that he’s at least trying — despite failing at times — to play the system and is doing what he can to get the puck where it needs to go, like playing in front of the net. If after five games he was taking shortcuts and trying to get cute or avoid those altercations in the first place, then I think we would have a problem. But for now I see very normal growing pains.
I expect Dureau to start on the fourth line for the Crunch and hopefully see the training wheels come off after a couple months once he’s at a point where he can reliably play in the defensive zone and not have to be too sheltered. For Dureau, it’s less teaching him the systems, but more letting him grow and build the muscles needed to accomplish the demands of the system. I’m hoping to see an improvement in his acceleration from a standstill, his ability to create space for himself, and to push through checks better.
It’s clear after looking at the votes that the readers don’t have much of an insight on Dureau at the moment apart from his draft position and point totals, both enough to warrant getting into the 20-25 range. And as it turns out, I was in that group with you all as I was the only writer not to vote for Dureau, with the rest having him in the teens.
One of the reasons for that was oversight on my part, but mostly because I really wanted to value upside and find some gems in an otherwise weak and decrepit prospect pool (which is not an insult because two cups). Once I realized I was on my own in the voting, I made a point to watch one of his games and make the case for him here. I think Dureau has a lot to offer, not as a top-end difference maker, but as a good pro the Lightning will be able to throw out there in the regular season and hope sticks.
For now, he’s an AHL rookie this season and will have a chance to play every night while improving his game on and off the ice.
What line would you expect to see Dureau playing on with the Syracuse Crunch by the end of this season?
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