Desharnais Played 100 Games

Saturday night was not a nice-looking game for the Edmonton Oilers, congrats are for defenseman Vincent Desharnais. He was picked 183rd overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, it took him until the age of 26 to become an NHL regular and he now just played his 100th NHL game. Quality right-handed defensemen, even just decent ones, don’t just fall from the sky. He’s not Evan Bouchard, but he’s a different kind of keeper.

His first career game was last season, in a 6-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on January 11th. He was called up from the Bakersfield Condors and reunited with his AHL teammate Stuart Skinner, hence their famous handshake celebration after a win. When the Oilers were going through their infamous forget how to play hockey for a month or two phase and they were one of the worst penalty-killing teams in the league, he added more depth to their backend with a play that rarely appears on the scoresheet but is still vital for any successful team, and they saw a rise in their PK as well. He scored his first NHL goal earlier this season during the 2023 Heritage Classic, a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames. For most of the season up until line-up changes in March, you can make the case that he and Brett Kulak were one of the best third pairings in the league. Both the eye test and analytics support that perspective.

Before the 2023/2024 season started, it was rumored that the Oilers could’ve acquired forward Sam Lafferty from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Desharnais. But they turned down that offer and some Oilers fans were not happy with that call. I for one am happy that trade didn’t happen. Once October and November were well behind us, and Edmonton found their game again, we were reminded what Desharnais brings to this team without the puck. Of course, he looked silly in last year’s Playoffs, but only because it was his first postseason. I expect we will see a different Desharnais in Round 1, and hopefully even longer than that.

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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