Photo courtesy of Megan Connelly, Portland Winterhawks
The Portland Winterhawks have always been a team known to produce NHL draft picks and Jaydon Dureau is among them. The 5’11” 2001 born Left Winger hails from White City, Saskatchewan. Dureau was selected in the fifth round, 147th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
“Yeah, it’s the dream I’ve been working for ever since I was a kid so it was awesome, like it was a dream come true,” Dureau said. “Super excited, my family was super pumped and just congratulating me, it was a really special day for me and my family, yeah it was really exciting, yeah it’s still kind of hard to believe at times.”
Dureau had his rookie season with Portland in 2017-18 season for six games. He started getting the feel for the WHL in the 2018-19 season. Dureau collected 12 goals and 17 assists that season for 29 points in 67 games played. In the 2019-20 season Dureau really broke on the scene grabbing 19 goals and 51 assists for 71 points in 61 games played.
During the 2020-21 season Dureau has spent time with three different organizations. He played one game with Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch before returning to juniors. Dureau then joined the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). With Melville, he racked up seven goals and four assists for 11 points in six games.
With this season brought with, the accomplishment of being named an alternate captain for Portland.
“I’ve been here for a few years now so I’m at like that veteran status in the league so yeah I’m really honored that the guys selected me and that I’m someone they look up to as a leader and somebody to be their alternate captain for this season,” Dureau said. “I’m just really excited that those guys selected me and it was super humbling and yeah, it’s just really exciting.”
Dureau explained that the team does everything together including covid tests, biking and hitting the gym. However, with the restrictions in place they’re not really able to go out and do much. Because of this, he said you cherish every moment at the rink with the guys. He touched on how they sometimes take it for granted, but how much it means being able to play a sport during the pandemic.
While the extended off-season was tough on players and Dureau found ways to keep busy and enjoy it. He explained how he took up a lot of hobbies.
“I learned guitar, picked up how to do that, I got a job during that which was really crucial to help pay for stuff, I like to draw, I’d be working out almost every day, training with my dad,” Dureau said. “We would go to the lake, we tore down our cabin looking to rebuild so we did that for quite a while, just little things like that.”
Dureau mentioned he’d play basketball with his buddies, go rollerblading, running, hiking and what he called just fun teenager things. When he gets back to playing hockey, he explained he’ll definitely look back and cherish those moments. He touched on how he has a tight friend group and that when he gets home he doesn’t think much will change and it’ll still be really fun.
Return to the pros
Once Dureau finishes up his time at the junior hockey level, he’ll be ready for his return to the professional level. Whether it’s with the Tampa Bay Lightning or Syracuse Crunch, he’s ready for the higher level of play. He explained how you don’t have that teenager range anymore with how you have guys in their thirties. However, Dureau mentioned he has friends and knows other players including from WHL’s US Division. He even has a buddy in another division who was selected and a couple from the OHL. He said he’s looking forward to seeing them again and having those relationships back.
“You have men, they have families, they have kids they have to support for, they have their wives and their families so I think it’s a dog eat dog world,” Dureau said.
He explained how you have to transition from being a boy playing a sport to becoming a man and taking it as your job and work that much harder to keep it consistent. He touched on how for those at the professional level, it’s their job, their salary and their income. In his one game with the Crunch he did have a few main takeaways at the AHL level compared to the WHL level.
“Yeah, it seems a lot stronger, they’re older men, they’re bigger, they’re stronger in their legs and I think that’s the biggest thing is that puck protection is crucial,” Dureau said.