Tristan DeJong has had an outstanding sophomore season for the Moncton Wildcats.
The Waterloo, Ontario product has seen a plethora of D partners this season and continues to be one of the Cats most dependable, reliable and durable defenders.
“Some people may look at playing with many different partners negatively, as it may be harder to develop chemistry. However, different partners bring their own personality and playing style,” confessed DeJong.
It’s all about character and consistency when you mention the former free agent defender.
“The variety of guys that I’ve played with has taught me to be more flexible and has challenged me to strengthen other aspects of my game..”
If the Cats are going to go where they want to go, Tristan DeJong will be massive part of the equation.
DeJong may be slotted as the Cats fifth defenceman, but he has far exceeded the Cats depth charts on many occasions.
DeJong gives an entirely new meaning to upside considering his play this season.
In 55 games this season DeJong has 6 goals 16 assists, 39 PIMs and is a +17.
The mature, steady, confident and consistent free agent defenceman plays a very simplistic and controlled game.
A game that NHL scouts are starting to appreciate.
“Reaching the NHL level has been a goal of mine ever since starting minor hockey,” confessed DeJong.
“However, after missing my NHL draft year in 2018, I had a decision to make with regards to which path I choose to continue my hockey career.”
“I started playing in the Ontario junior ranks with the intentions to go the school route. I figured that was the next way to achieve my goal in the long-run.”
You could say Tristan DeJong a later bloomer, but that wouldn’t be accurate.
All the kid every needed was an opportunity.
An opportunity to chase his dream and that’s exactly what the Moncton Wildcats offered him a season ago.
“When Moncton showed interest in me, I had to consider how it would help me get to playing professional hockey. The team showed great promise and had a lot of talent,” stressed DeJong.
“It was clear to me that the Wildcats would be a contender in the three years that I had left in junior hockey. They also made it clear to me where I fit in with the team, and the role I would play in this league for them.”
DeJong has certainly lived up to and surpassed any projection the Cats scouting may have given him.
The physical right shooting defender’s versatility and calm demeanour has certainly been the perfect fit for the organization.
What about being noticed by NHL scouts?
“When I hear about interest in my play from NHL teams, it is such an honour,” he said.
“It brings justification to the decision I made coming to Moncton to be a Wildcat,” DeJong said proudly.
“I’ve had to overcome the fact of being looked over by teams in the past, as I am not a flashy player.”
“Eventually, I hoped my consistency and hockey sense would attract attention from the national level, and it makes all the dedication and preparation worth it,” confessed the nineteen-year-old.
DeJong realizes there’s still lots of chapters to written in his progression to the pro ranks.
“The work isn’t over, it’s just the beginning.”
“This year is going to be a great year for our team. I continue to develop from great coaching and I am grateful to be surrounded by so many professional individuals.”
“Every player on this team has the same goal, and that is to bring home a Memorial Cup. With so many high profile players, it allows me to continue to learn and expand my game every day,” confessed the well spoken mature defender.
“The inner compete and chemistry within the group is what allows me to test my comfort zone, so that I can defend the best in the league and move on to the next level.”
Skill and offensive talent is great, but it’s all about chemistry, character and playing for one another.
“There is no division in this team and we do everything together as a group. I think our systems compliment the speed and skill we bring as a unit, and allows us to shut down our biggest opponents.”
DeJong is trying to cherish every moment of the ride.
“It is exciting to be surrounded by so many amazing players, but to me they are brothers,” he said.
“I try to fit in and learn from them as much as I can in order to help bring our team success.”
Spoken like a true team guy.
It’s clear Tristan DeJong understands that less is more when it comes to his style of play.
That will serve #5 very well moving.
“When Axel got injured, I had to step up in his absence. It is an honour to play with Jared and he brings a lot of skill to the team. He’s a great two-way defenseman who creates offence, but can also shut down top opponents.”
“Jared brings swagger and confidence that the team feeds off of and we will need that in the playoffs.”
McIsaac and DeJong have been a force to be reckoned with ever since being paired together.
“Jared brings a lot of experience being in the league for so long and having a World Junior Gold Medal under his belt. I believe after a few games together, we developed some good chemistry and started to compliment each other’s playing style. He isn’t shy to give any teaching points or let me know when I could help him during a play. So ultimately, I enjoy learning from him and it makes me better as a defenceman,” admitted DeJong.
“As we approach a much anticipated run for the championship, there isn’t anything major anyone needs to change or to drastically help the team. The team is playing well when everyone plays their role and sticks to our team values.”
What aspects of his game does DeJong’s want to continue to work on heading to the President Cup playoffs and beyond.
“Right now I am honing in on my responsibilities as a two-way defenseman with a PK role. We have had a busy few weeks with regards to playing games, so learning from film and feedback from my coaches has been important.”
“I have been trying to adjust some minor details with every game and chance I can in practice. For example, in the playoffs we will face the best of every team and forwards will be forechecking with great speed and grit,” DeJong said.
“I have been working on my hip mobility and how it translates to my pivoting, allowing me to transfer better speed into my transitions when retrieving pucks.”
“I have been working on better ways to keep the puck to my forehand in order to continue successful breakouts and maintain the easy first pass.”
DeJong believes the Cats transition game will be critical for team success in the QMJHL playoffs and beyond.
“These two small details will help with seamless breakouts and neutral-zone transitions which can be essential in playoffs.”
Spoken like a true team guy and an amazing student of the game.
The sky is the limit for the kid that has never feared chasing his dream.
From the Ontario Jr A ranks to the QMJHL Tristan DeJong’s inspirations journey continues.