LA Kings prospect Nick Deslauriers starting to find his way

Nick Deslauriers (photo: Scott Slingsby)

About 400 miles down the Atlantic coast, gym-tan-laundry is all the rage. Yet, for Kings prospect Nick Deslauriers, it’s more about training, eating and shopping when he’s not at the rink.

Earlier this week, we spoke by phone and talked about his adjustment to the AHL, as well as his first professional goal – scored last Sunday in front of the hometown Manchester crowd.

“It was a power play,” Deslauriers began, when asked to describe the play. “I was with Thomas Hickey, who sets me up all the time. I’ve had a lot of chances that just haven’t gone in. But that time, I took a one-timer and it finally went through.”

While he wasn’t surprised the puck made it past the goalie – as “Dwight King did a perfect job of screening him” – he was a bit perplexed that it’s taken so long. “I think luck finally came to me and it was about time that something happened, with all the shots I’ve been taking. I’ve been posting around four to six shots nearly every game.”

Drafted by the Kings out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2009, Deslauriers has leaned heavily on Monarchs captain – and fellow Frenchman – Marc-Andre Cliche as he settles in to this chapter of his hockey career.

“We talk a lot,” he explained. “We try to talk in English in front of everybody. But, it’s kind of weird – two French guys talking English. So, it’s fun having one French guy here, just to talk with. If I have some problems that I can’t communicate in English, I just go to him and he helps me. Having a little French time together is pretty awesome.”

But, it was the support of the entire D-core that worked to keep his confidence high earlier in the season when he wasn’t getting much playing time, largely due to the Monarchs having so many defensemen on the roster.

“All the veterans kept me involved, as if I was playing with them in regular games. Guys like Hickey, Campbell and Muzzin helped me stay as positive as I can. I was just waiting for my chance and my chance came.”

Things haven’t exactly gone as expected off the ice either. Deslauriers was planning on living with Andy Andreoff (2011 Kings draft choice) this season, but he decided to return to the OHL for his over-age year. True to form, the 20-year old blueliner took it in stride and is now living in an apartment by himself. However, he still spends most of his time with the guys on the team.

“Usually I go to the gym, my routine is to go around 4pm with a couple of the guys. Sometimes we go into Boston to get a bite to eat or go shopping. We just hang out a lot.” Eat, shop, train baby!

Well, that and a little ink too. Fans might not be able to see it under his jersey, but Nick has continued to get some more tattoo work done – something he first spoke with us about last summer. He’s up to about a half sleeve now.

He also hasn’t been afraid to drop the gloves, an aspect of his overall game that’s been on the rise over the last season or two. Sure, it may have taken him 30 games to get his first goal, yet it only took him a few weeks to get his first scrap in.

“It was a late check on Lokti (Andrei Loktionov),” Dealauriers said, thinking back to his October fight with Portland’s Ryan Hollweg . “He hit him from behind and I thought there was something going on with Lokti, he stayed down a little. So, I was just defending my teammate. I didn’t even ask him. I just dropped the gloves and we fought.”

On a lighter note, D-Lo (as most of his teammates call him) has been on the receiving end of several pranks this season too – namely by team trainer Mike Holden.

“He’s the guy who picks on me the most. He does a lot of funny things and it makes things way easier here. He’s after me all the time though. There’s always something with him. If he’s not messing with my clothes, he’s saying something funny.”

Any payback yet?

“I’ve been on the receiving end quite a bit. But, I plan on getting him back later in the year,” he said with a big laugh.

Back to the goal, it came with mixed emotions. “I was happy, for sure,” Deslauriers shared. “I was wishing to get the win though. It’s always better to score your first pro goal in a win. So, it’s sad that we didn’t get the W in that game.”

Even though the team has now lost six straight, he thinks the formula to turn things around is actually quite simple.

“We don’t block enough shots and we get out shot every game. I think in the last game we were out shot by almost 20 shots. So, as soon as we have the chance, we need to take the shot. All the goals that have been scored on us are scrappy goals – they bounce off of a skate or a stick. So, we need to take some shots and drive the shot totals up too. Those are a few of the things we can do to get out of this slump.”

Deslauriers and the Monarchs will get their chance tomorrow night when they’re in Wilkes-Barre to take on the Penguins, and then it’s off to Hershey for a two-game weekend series with the Bears. Both teams are ahead of the Manchester in the Conference standings at the moment. Thus, a few wins would go a long way towards tightening up the playoff race.

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