Laval Rocket: Cédric Desruisseaux an Intriguing Offensive Addition

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 19: Head coach Laval Rocket Joel Bouchard (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 19: Head coach Laval Rocket Joel Bouchard (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Recently, the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket, has been getting pretty good returns from their free-agency additions.

This AHL season was complicated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and resulted in a constant shift in lineups and an eventual decision to cancel the Calder Cup playoffs. But the Rocket managed to persevere, putting together their best season since the days of Chris Terry’s AHL scoring title and a reliable Charlie Lindgren.

With a 23-9-3 record overall, the Rocket claimed the Canadian Division Title and the season served as great experience and development for many of the Montreal Canadiens less-heralded prospects.

Along with the performance of undrafted free agents like Joel Teasdale and Michael McNiven, many of the Rocket’s AHL contracted players stepped up majorly, including Yannick Veilleux. And on Friday, the Rocket made, yet, another intriguing addition to the 2021-22 season roster. Cédric Desruisseaux is a player I knew little – if anything – about, prior to the Rocket signing him to a one-year AHL deal. At first glance, the Victoriaville native brings a lot of interesting qualities to the table.

Not only was he a former first-round pick of the Victoriaville Tigres in the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft, but Desruisseaux comes from a hockey background, with his brother Jason and his cousin Maxime having spent time at various amateur and semi-pro levels. Jason, the youngest of the three, is currently playing for the Trois Rivieres Estacades of Quebec Midget AAA and was a 13th round pick in the 2020 QMJHL draft. Maxime, a long-time assistant coach with Victoriaville, spent five seasons as a defenceman in the QMJHL, before migrating to the fight-filled LNAH, where he would spend the next seven seasons as a primarily puck-moving defenceman.

Cédric, the second oldest, brings the most to the table, and has posted some immensely impressive offensive numbers in spite of standing just 5’8 and 166 pounds. After making his QMJHL debut with Victoriaville, Desruisseaux was traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs early in the 2017-18 season. In his two seasons with the team, he put up solid – if unimpressive – totals of 46 and 34 points respectively, before being traded once more to the Charlottetown Islanders.

After now signing a one-year AHL deal with the Laval Rocket, Cédric Desruisseaux will bring a lot of intriguing offensive qualities to the table.

After continuing his solid pace with 40 points over 56 games in 2019-20, Desruisseaux exploded out of the gate in this past season, which, like the AHL, was shortened and ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. In 40 games with the Islanders, Desruisseaux put up 42-36-78 totals, leading the QMJHL in goals, +/-, and points, earning the Jean Beliveau Trophy, as the league’s top scorer. So, needless to say, Desruisseaux has quite a bit of offensive upside to his game, and this, in my opinion, gives him some intriguing potential in the AHL.

This past season, Rafael Harvey-Pinard surprised many by becoming a consistent, reliable, top-six option for the Rocket, playing on yet another AHL deal. A former seventh round of the Canadiens in 2019, Pinard put up 9-11-20 totals over 36 games along with a +10 rating, ultimately earning an entry-level deal with the Montreal Canadiens at the end of the season. Similarly, Alex Barre-Boulet, a former Jean Béliveau recipient in 2017-18, has been one of the AHL’s top scorers since signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning as an undrafted free agent. In 2020-21, he made his NHL debut, recording 3-0-3 totals over 15 games with the Lightning.

While it’s unlikely that Desruisseaux will be able to play at quite the same pace considering his production was in his over-ager season, I still think there’s a case to be made regarding his potential contributions to the Laval Rocket next season. As the Canadiens look to continue building on what has been a solid 2020-21 season overall, many of the Rocket’s top players this past season should factor into those plans, and with that in mind, I think Desruisseaux could find a role in Laval with the right circumstances and development. Rocket Head Coach Joël Bouchard has shown the ability to be a great mentor and voice of reason for younger players, and I have reason to believe (no pun intended) that Desruisseaux could benefit from that.

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In the end, the Laval Rocket has a lot of positives to take away from this past season, and as they look to 2021-22 and beyond, there’s a high chance their multiple AHL additions could continue to factor into their future plans. And, with the right development, I feel as though Cédric Desruisseaux could factor into those very same plans.