In the fifth round of the 2020 draft, the New York Islanders took QMJHL product William Dufour (Drummondville Voltigeur) 152nd overall.
To some, Dufour is the top prospect from the Islanders 2020 draft class (subscription required). The 6’3″ 205lbs winger is a former sixth overall pick at the 2018 QMJHL draft who had 76 points in 114 games with the Quebec major-junior league prior to his draft.
Since the 2020 draft, Dufour has been on fire for the Voltigeurs. In 13 games he has 16 points, including an eight-game point streak with eight goals and four helpers. I talked to him about his season, the draft, and his excellent season so far.
New York Islanders prospect talks about the draft and 20-21 season
No prospect knows for sure what team is going to draft them. The draft process is a long one with a ton of interviews with a ton of people. Scouts, player development staff, A-GM’s, coaches (sometimes), and even the GM. It’s can be tough for these kids to know who’s interested and who’s just performing their due diligence by checking in with prospects that should fall to them.
So I asked William if he knew the Islanders were going to take him, his answer shows just how interested the Isles were in him.
"I had a couple of interviews with them. Closer to the draft I got two calls from them (one over the phone and one Zooom call). They were one of the teams that I spoke to with the most, so it’s not that had I no doubt they’d take me but i had a feeling."
I’ve seen quotes from Brian Burke where he’d ask prospects weird questions during draft interviews to throw them off. Questions like what type of dog do you have? Questions to throw kids off the script. I asked Dufour if he was asked any weird questions from either the Isles or other teams?
"No pretty normal question. The only one question I got was from a team (it was not the Islanders) who asked me what kind of animal I compare myself to on the ice and off the ice."
I’m sure there was a reason for a team to ask that type of question. Brian Burke’s reasoning is to get to the heart of players and not for them to read their prepared notes. But I don’t see the purpose of such a question.
Thankfully, the Islanders didn’t waste their multiple interviews with Dufour asking meaningless questions. Which shouldn’t come as a shock in a no non-sense Lou Lamoriello organization.
Since the Islanders drafted him Dufour has been putting up incredible numbers for Drummondville. With a goal earlier today, Dufour has nine in 13 games and another seven helpers for 16 points on the season. He’s tied for fifth in the league in goals and is climbing up the standings for points.
He’s always had the potential to be an important player at the QMJHL level (again, he was the sixth overall pick in 2018). So what happened this year? Why the sudden explosion of production?
Often when a prospect starts putting points like Dufour is doing now, it’s due to a top player joining the ranks. But as Dufour puts it, it was quite the opposite. Top players left through injury or international duties and he had to fill the void.
"Nothing really changed. The beginig of the year went well. When we got to the Québec bubble we were missing out captain (Xavier Simoneau) and then a good player in Isiah Campell who was injured in our first game. In the next five games or so left I had to raise my game, and I did. I had to be the leader and since then it’s going realy well."
Not only is he putting up points (which is great) but it’s the manner in which he’s scoring them. Just that other day, went end to end for this beauty goal.
So I asked him about it. Was it all just instinct, did he just see a lane open up and he just went for it or was there a bit more thought involved?
"Honestly, at 5on5 I might not have tried that. But we were about to head to the power play (delayed call) so we were six on the ice with the goalie off. I saw the lane in the middle of the ice and took it. I figured the worst-case scenario is that I lose the puck and we go on the power play."
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Dufour strikes me as a very intelligent young man. I was left with the impression that he was confident (not in a cocky way). Think of it as a mature confidence.
He knows he’s having a good year, but he’s still working on his game. He knows his defensive play could use some work so he’s focusing on that aspect of his game. He’s also trying to be a more explosive skater. He knows that at 6’3″ and 205lbs he’ll never be as explosive as McDavid or Barzal, but he can hit another gear, and he’s working to get there.
As with most prospects in the system, there hasn’t been any discussion about next year. With a January birthdate and being drafted out of the CHL, he can’t play in the AHL next year, and I doubt he’ll be able to impress the coaching staff enough to have on the NHL roster out of camp. So the 2021-22 season could see him return to the QMJHL.
Don’t take that as a negative because to me it seems that this fifth-round pick could very well be the gem of the Islanders 2020 draft class.