It's not uncommon for hockey players to return to their roots during the off-season, and that's just what NY Islanders top prospect William Dufour did when he made an appearance at the QMJHL Draft in Sherbrooke, QC. Off the heels of his first professional season, where he finished with 48 points for the Bridgeport Islanders, Dufour was one of the league's top rookies, as he's taken his first steps towards becoming an NHL player.
Dufour learned quickly that nothing is given once becoming a professional athlete. Everything is earned despite where you may have been picked in the draft.
"You need to work for everything," said Dufour in an interview with John Moore, Youtuber who gives behind-the-scenes looks at life in the QMJHL. "Even if you're a first-round pick, you can arrive in camp and then go to the East Coast (Hockey League). You can always be better. If you're not doing the small details, someone else is going to do it and take your place - so I think that's the biggest thing I've learned this year."
A former fifth-round pick, Dufour took his advice and worked for everything he accomplished this season, including his first call-up to the NHL. Though his time with the team was short, Dufour understands pieces of his game need improving this off-season in hopes of sticking around with the big club for an extended period.
"They want me to be in the best shape I've ever been in my life, best fitness - so this summer I'm working a lot on that," said Dufour in terms of what the Islanders are anticipating of him come training camp. "Since juniors, everyone tells me I need to improve my skating. I think with my skating, at my max speed, I'm pretty fast. In my small area, I need to improve my feet (and) my quickness. Even my shot, I need to improve my shot every day. I want to get better with my shot, my hands, my skills. I want to be better in every aspect of my game.
Come training camp in September, Dufour will be given every opportunity possible to make the NHL roster, but it'll be something he has to earn. He'll likely begin the season in Bridgeport and could be an injury replacement in a top-six role.