The Tampa Bay Lightning sign in Saskatchewan. a hockey player

White City’s Jaydon Dureau has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League. (NHL)

He was drafted by the Lightning 147th overall in the 5th round of the 2020 NHL Draft.

“It’s been a dream of my life to be able to do that. It was so exciting to call my parents and everyone I love to tell them that I finally took the next step,” said Dureau.

Dureau completed his final junior season with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks. (WHL) The forward finished with a career-high 25 goals and 72 points in 58 games during the 2021-22 season. He also spent time with Tampa Bay’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, Syracuse Crunch. A team with which he would be happy to spend more time, if he had the opportunity.

“I saw a stat the other day that I think 80 or 81 percent of (Lightning) players at the top right now were in the American League from season to season. So I mean they want to grill you and develop you. So I’m not going to be embarrassed or upset if I’m in Syracuse,” Dureau said. “It’s a great place for developmental reasons to take me to the next level.”

Dureau currently trains at Adrenaline Strength & Conditioning under the guidance of Head Athletic Performance Coach, Deanna Wells. Wells said she became emotional when she discovered his signature.

“I cried! It’s exciting because you see them as kids and then they see success as a junior and they grow up and the next thing you know they get drafted and then sign,” Wells said. It’s a moment of tears because you see how hard they work and how hard they put in. So to see their dreams come true, in turn, I feel like my dreams are coming true because I want them to succeed.”

It is an organization that excites Dureau to be part of it. The Lightning broke barriers recently after reaching their third straight Stanley Cup final, something an NHL team hasn’t been able to do since the ’80s.

“They’ve got a really good team, I mean they’re in the finals for the third year in a row, they’ve become a dynasty. If they stay consistent it’s going to be a tight window but they’ll have to train hard and luckily have Deanna for that,” Dureau said.

Dureau will attend the team’s prospects camp this summer, followed by the main camp in the fall.

“I think the biggest thing I took away from the last camp was just the speed of the game. I think it’s a lot faster than some people would expect,” Dureau noted.

Catherine J. Martinez