Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Left Wing--Nicolas Deslauriers
DOB: February 22, 1991 (age, 25)
Draft: 2009, 3rd round (84th,) LAK
How acquired: Trade with Los Angeles, March 5, 2014
Last contract signed: 2014--2yr./$1.275M
Final year of contract: 2015-16, RFA
2015-16 Stats: 70 games, 6 goals, 6 assists, 12 points, -14
What we wrote preseason: "Deslauriers was drafted by Los Angeles in the third round (2009, 84th) as an offensive-minded defenseman" who was moved to wing because "[he] had all the physical attributes of an NHL'er while [the Kings] said, 'there’s also a good deal of inherent talent.'
"Deslauriers packs a punch while playing an aggressive game with a crazed look on his face. He can work the wall and outwork an opponent. He can drive the net and wreak havoc in the crease while also having enough finish and puck skills to be a regular contributor. He's fearless in his game and fearless when he drops the gloves, but he's not a goon. Last year was his first full season in the NHL and he gathered 15 points (5+10) in 82 games while playing third and fourth line minutes."
What we wrote mid-season: "has a motor that's non-stop and a crazed look in his eye that says he's ready to get it on at any time. Deslauriers is in his second full season and is another one who knows his role and gives it everything he's got when on the ice."
Impressions on his play this year: In 2014, new Sabres GM Tim Murray wanted to put his stamp on the team and in one of his first trades he brought in a couple of "heavies," as he called them. One of them was Deslauriers, a converted defenseman, and things looked very promising during Deslauriers' first year-and-a-half.
Deslauriers has all the tools to be a solid fourth-line winger who packs a punch. Quite often during his first 100+ NHL games we saw aggressiveness and a crazed look on his face when he hit the ice. Not so much through the latter part of this season. He had decent numbers for a fourth-liner in his second full NHL season, but his minus-14 was troublesome as it tied for fourth-last on the team. Those below and right around him in plus/minus all logged many more minutes and had that stat brought down by quite a few empty net goals with them on the ice. Not so with Deslauriers.
Questions moving forward: It's one thing to have a motor and a 6'1" 212 lb. frame, but how are those traits used? Can he get back to the level of aggressiveness we saw in 2014-15? Is he still adapting to a move from defense, one that began in 2012? Will he adequately fill the role of an enforcer-type who's a legitimate fourth-liner? Will he get more than a one-year extension?