BRANDON, Man. — Moncton Wildcats forward Nicolas Deschamps will weigh the desire to help his team avoid elimination against a potential career in the NHL, adding Monday that any decision to return from injury to play at the MasterCard Memorial Cup would not be his alone to make.
The 20-year-old has been sidelined since April 23 with an undisclosed lower body injury, which has been reported to be a high ankle sprain.
Deschamps practised in full equipment with the team for the first time Monday and expects a decision on his playing status to be made after conversations with his agent and medical staff before Moncton’s pivotal game today.
“I don’t want to put my career in risk, but all the hockey players who play, they just want to help their team win,” he said.
“It may be my last game in junior hockey, so it’s hard to watch the guys. If everything’s fine and I can join them, I’ll be there for sure.”
Moncton needs to beat the defending champion Windsor Spitfires today to avoid falling to 0-3, which would send the Wildcats to an early exit.
Deschamps finished in a two-way tie for the QMJHL regular season scoring title with 39 goals and 96 points over 64 games.
He was also selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, meaning he has to be mindful of any long-term damage he could incur by playing this week.
“If it was just, like, me, I would play,” he said. “But we’ve got to sit and talk with all the staff and stuff. I don’t want to make a risky start and get injured again, but if I feel good and if there’s a chance I won’t hurt it again, I’ll try it, for sure.”
Deschamps, acquired in a trade with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens on Dec. 23, was injured in the final game of Moncton’s third-round playoff series against Drummondville. He said he fell awkwardly after a hit, suffering an injury that prevented him from joining the Wildcats in their league-clinching series with Saint John.
He has been moored to the sidelines again for the Memorial Cup.
“We have good staff here, good therapists and good doctors,” Wildcats coach Danny Flynn said. “We badly want him to play, and he wants to be in there, but we have to make the decision that is right for the player.”
Deschamps said he only experiences discomfort when forced to stop and start quickly on the ice. He did not rule out the possibility of returning to play exclusively on the power-play against the Spitfires.
“If he comes back, it could definitely spark our team, big-time,” Moncton centre Kelsey Tessier said. “He’s a big player for us, but I think we’ve just got to play our game. We’ve just got to play the Wildcat hockey that we played throughout the (QMJHL) series, and we’ve just got to come out hard.”