Back in the winter, as the first edition of the Top 25 Under 25, the Leafs made a small transaction with the Anaheim Ducks. The two teams traded forwards mired in slumps in the minor leagues and served to screw up my writing for the start of that series.
The "change of scenery" trade is one of my favourite types of deals in hockey. When both teams look to get something of some value out of a player that for whatever reason isn't performing to their level of expectations, they trade problems and roll the dice. When it doesn't work the team has lost nothing; they've traded one disappointing player for another. When it works, a player rejuvenates their career and re-establishes their place as a player with some potential for the future.
The swap revitalized Deschamps in the second half of the AHL season and through the playoffs, and the young Quebecker makes his debut on our Top 25 list at spot #19.
Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 Entry Draft by Anaheim, Deschamps was drafted for his scoring prowess and quick release. Deschamps had a tremendously successful scoring record in the Q, at a point a game as an 18 and 19 year old and an eye popping 97 points in 64 games as a 20 year old split between Chicoutimi and Moncton.
Deschamps had a resonably successful pro debut, scoring 15 goals and 46 points in 80 games on a mediocre Syracuse Crunch team. Deschamps did appear to struggle with consistency (a frequent knock against his game, due to apparently not being strong enough to create open space for himself). Prior to his trade, he had been severely struggling with Syracuse (just 7 points in 31 games), but after his arrival in Toronto, the change was extremely beneficial and he accumulated 30 points in 40 games, and added 12 points in 17 playoff games.
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Ranking a newcomer like Deschamps can be difficult. At 22 years old, his development time is less than a couple of the guys we just looked at, but his accomplishments in the AHL to date indicate he's probably closer to being whatever he will eventually be. Here is PPP's explanation:
Basically, it's the same as Greg Scott: I think he's close to the top of the list of players that will play for the Leafs in the next season or two. It might not be the longest stay and this is based on seeing him good (the AHL playoffs) but I think that if he reaches his ceiling as a third/fourth line tweener he could provide the team some depth in the long run. Ultimately, he'll be passed over pretty quickly in a perfect world but before he's consigned to AHL stardom I think he'll play some games.
So what do we expect out of a player like Deschamps? At 6'1" and 185 lbs Nicolas isn't "small", but he doesn't play an overly physical style. Deschamps job is to score and to provide offence. Could he eventually project to a third line "depth scoring" option in the NHL? Possibly. I think it depends on which Deschamps we get next season; the one who has two AHL seasons of around 0.5 - 0.6 points per game, or the one who scored at 0.75 points per game in his half season with the Marlies.