NEWS ITEM– Twenty-four year old centre David Desharnais has signed a two year/one way 1.6 million dollar contract with the Montreal Canadiens. Desharnais would have been a restricted free agent on July first.
Despite being a dominant player on every level of hockey since he was fifteen years old, Desharnais has had to repeatedly prove himself because of his 5’6″ 175 pound size. It takes a special kind of person to overcome the ingrained size discrimination that exists in today’s NHL, one who must combine intelligence, athleticism, skill, courage and, most importantly, desire.
“ The last few years I never knew if I was going to play in Hamilton, the East Coast League or Montreal. For me, for sure, it’s a one less stress.”
Following is Desharnais’ unlikely step-by-step eight year journey from midget hockey to the NHL –
June 7, 2003 – Drafted 20th overall by Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL midget draft from the Commandeurs de Levis. (First overall choice Sydney Crosby (Rimouski), second Guillaume Latendresse) In forty-two 2002-2003 games with Levis of the MAAA he scored 27 goals and 42 assists.
June 26-27,2004 – NHL Entry draft Raleigh North Carolina, 291 players drafted. Desharnais ignored after scoring 23 goals and 51 points in rookie QMJHL season.
September 2004 – named captain of the Sagueneens in his second QMJHL season.
2003 to 2007 – Over four seasons with Chicoutimi he increased his goal totals each year, scoring 38 in 61 games during his last season. He totalled 374 points in 262 games. He won the Frank J. Selke Memorial Trophy as the QMJHL’s most gentlemanly player three times consecutively from 2004-05 to 2006-07.
2005 and 2006 NHL entry drafts – Total of 444 players in a combined 14 rounds taken over two drafts. Desharnais continues to be ignored despite finishing fifth in the QMJHL scoring race each year. In his final draft year, the 2005-06 season. he was ignored despite 33 goals, 85 assists and a plus-45 rating.
2006-2007 – Desharnais plays fourth year with Chicoutimi as an overaged junior. 38 goals, 70 assists, 108 points in 66 games.
Mar. 31, 2007 – after elimination from QMJHL playoffs, signed Amateur tryout contract with NY Islanders Bridgeport AHL farm club.
Apr. 1, 2007 – scores first professional goal on a power play in a 4-2 Bridgeport win over Albany.
May 1, 2007 – Released from amateur tryout contract by Bridgeport. 1 goal, 1 assist in seven games.
May 26, 2007 – Named CHL most sportsmanlike player of the year after logging only 32 penalty minutes while scoring 108 points.
Sept. 6, 2007 – Invited to Canadiens rookie training camp on a tryout basis on the recommendation of Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau, who was a co-owner of the Chicoutimi junior franchise.
Sept. 24/2007 – Still on a tryout contract, sent to Hamilton Bulldogs training camp. Subsequently signed to an ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones contract.
October 19 2007 –Hamilton Bulldogs upgrade Desharnais to AHL contract and then re-assign him to Cincinnati.
Oct. 21, 2007 –In ECHL-Cincinnati season opener, Desharnais scores a goal and assist in a 5-4 win over Dayton.
2007-08 Cincinnati season –- 106 points in 68 regular season games to lead the league in scoring before adding 33 points in 22 playoff games to lead the Cyclones to their first Kelly Cup championship. Desharnais was named ECHL Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player and was named to both the All-Rookie Team and the First All-Star Team. Called up for four games during season with Hamilton with 0 goals 1 assist.
Sept. 15, 2008 – Attends Canadiens 2008 rookie training camp.
Sept. 23/2008 – included in Canadiens lineup for exhibition game against Buffalo as part of the HNIC Hockeyville promotion in Chicoutimi. Assisted on goal by Andrei Kostitsyn in 3-2 Canadiens win.
Sept. 29 2008 – Still under AHL contract – returned to Hamilton Bulldogs after four training camp games – 0 goals 2 assists.
Oct. 10, 2008 – Opens season with Hamilton. One assist in 3-1 win at Manitoba. The next night, also in Winnipeg, 1 goal, 1 assist.
Nov 5 2008 – Signs two year/two way Canadiens free agent contract. after scoring 3 goals and 6 assists in first eleven games of Hamilton season. AHL salary 55 thousand the first year, 65 thousand in year two.
2008-09 season – Hamilton Bulldogs 77 games 24 goals 34 assists. Second on team in both goals and assists. Tied for third in AHL rookie scoring.
Nov. 25/2009 – First NHL game at Pittsburgh.
2009-10 season – at Hamilton. 27-51 in 60 games – six game callup to canadiens 1 assist. 2 shots on goal.
Feb. 10/2010 – vs. Washington. First NHL point vs. Washington.
Oct. 15- Dec.29, 2010 – In Hamilton, 35 games played -10 goals and 35 assists for AHL leading 45 points. Named AHL Player of the Week for period ending December 26 after recording five points (2 goals and 3 assists) in two games.
Dec.31, 2010 – Re-called by Canadiens December 31st 2010 following a three assist performance Dec. 30 vs. Lake Erie..
Jan. 12, 2011 – Scores first NHL goal on a deflection of a P.K. Subban shot vs. Pittsburgh at Bell Centre.
April 9, 2011 – Final regular season Canadiens statistics 43 games – 8 goals, 14 assists. In playoffs 5GP – 1 assist.
June 20, 2011 – As restricted free agent, signs two-year/one way Canadiens contract valued at 750-thousand dollars in year one – 950-thousand in year two.