Philippe Desrosiers' best work this season came when he was matched against his peers, building anticipation for what might be in the offing after he's drafted.
The 17-year-old goalie won the No. 1 job with the Rimouski Océanic and proceeded to fashion a superb QMJHL rookie campaign with a 3.07 average and .900 save percentage over 43 games. Desrosiers was superb at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January, pitching in on a combined shutout. That foreshadowed what he did the next time he was matched against players his own age. In the spring, Desrosiers backstopped Canada to its first gold medal in five seasons at the IIHF world U18 championship in Russia, making 47 saves in the final vs. the four-time champion Team USA.
Fellow Océanic draft prospects, 6-foot-5 centre Frédérik Gauthier and 6-6 defenceman Samuel Morin, were also part of Canada's golden effort. One could take it as a strong message to the rest of the Q for next season.
"We'll be ready," says Desrosiers, a St-Hyacinthe, Que., native who is NHL Central Scouting's seventh-ranked domestic goalie. "Tthat a big tournament to get us ready for next year
That was amazing. It was the best feeling of my life in hockey. I played the best hockey in my life. It's a great thing for me."
The 6-foot-1¼, 182-pound Desrosiers is projected as a potential third-round selection. The goalie has a well-honed butterfly technique that increases his chance of making the first save. His experiences with the U18 team and at the 2011 Canada Winter Games tournament have also likely contributed to his mental toughness. Scouting reports note his glove hand and rebound control are works in progress.
"Definitely, it's my rebound control," Desrosiers says when asked what he will work on this off-season. "It will help my game, limit the number of scoring chances."
1. How would you say your past season progressed, from start to finish?
"I love the way that Carey Price plays. I love his style, his calmness, he's so relaxed. He just plays with swagger. If he gets scored on, he doesn't show anger."
2. In your mind, what would scouts say is the biggest thing you have to work on between now and when you'll be on the cusp of turning pro?
"Baseball. I was a catcher." (Catcher and goalie? Were you a glutton for punishment?) I just liked the responsibility. I liked handling pucks and baseballs."
3. Aside from the Océanic, who has the sweetest jersey in the Q?
"I think it's Halifax [Mooseheads]. I love the colours, the green and red. It's a very beautiful jersey."
4. Athletes are superstrict about nutrition for the most part, but when you need to cheat on your diet, what's your go-to junk food?
"McDonalds — chicken nuggets.."
5. Favourite TV show or movie?
"My favourite movie is Batman, The Dark Knight. My favourite TV show is RDS, Sports 30."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.