When the Islanders drafted Arnaud Durandeau in the 6th round (165th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, the organization added a speedy and skilled forward with a left-handed shot from the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Durandeau turned pro for the 2019-20 campaign and is now in his third season with the Bridgeport Islanders but he has taken his game to a new level.
During his rookie campaign in the AHL in 2019-20, Durandeau had 5 goals and 3 assists for 8 points in 21 games. In 2020-21, he had 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points in 14 games. This season, the 23-year-old native of Montreal is third on the team in scoring with 7 goals and 17 assists for 24 points in 44 games.
“I feel like this year has been going pretty well,” said the 6-3 183 pound Durandeau. “I’ve been playing a lot more and having more of a role on this team. The coaches have been trusting me a lot more and I feel like my confidence has been higher as well. The points have been coming playing with good players.”
Playing on a line with Cole Bardreau and Jeff Kubiak, Durandeau has been a big contributor in terms of offense, but it’s the improvements that’s he’s made in his own end that has helped him develop.
“The main focus has been mostly on my 200-foot game and playing well defensively,” said Durandeau. “Defensively, (Bardreau and Kubiak) are very sound and they’re very predictive. I’ve been trying to model my game a little bit and be better defensively and the offense will come with all of my skill and my speed.”
It was that skill and speed that Durandeau used during his four-year junior career that saw him total 85 goals and 111 assists for 196 points in 262 games. The QMJHL is a league that league is all about offense, so when Durandeau turned pro and signed his entry level contract with the Islanders, he knew he had a lot of work to do so that he can refine his game.
He’s listened to the advice of Bridgeport General Manager Chris Lamoriello and Head Coach Brent Thompson and he has been making the necessary adjustments to become a solid player at both ends of the ice, a current pre-requisite to have a chance to play within the system implemented by New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz.
“I feel like I’ve taken a step in that direction,” said Durandeau. “That’s my goal to one day get a chance to play there and try to prove that I can have a career in the NHL and be a good player. I feel just being with the Islanders…it’s a great organization.”
From a team standpoint, Durandeau and the Bridgeport Islanders got off to a slow start this season. They opened the season with a four-game losing streak and endured a seven-game skid during November. But things have picked up since then including their current run of points in 6 of their last 9 games. The AHL Islanders currently sit in last place in Atlantic Division with 43 points heading into homes games at Webster Bank Arena this weekend against the Hershey Bears (Saturday at 7pm) and against the Hartford Wolfpack (Sunday at 3pm).
The Bridgeport Islanders still hold out hope that they can make a run at the playoffs.
“The start of the season was a little rough,” said Durandeau. “We’ve been playing way better. We’ve been stringing some wins (together) and we’re gaining confidence.”
As Arnaud Durandeau continues to make strides in his third season playing for Bridgeport, he’s learning the “Islander Way” and is determined to one day get the call up to Long Island.
“It’s been amazing being with the Islanders for three years and hopefully one day I can play with the New York Islanders.”