Jean-Sébastien Dea is one of the headlining names on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2016 Rookie Tournament roster. This same time two years ago, he was sitting at home in Québec as an undrafted free agent.
Despite a dominant junior career, Dea’s name was never called on draft day. He was able to earn a spot at Pittsburgh’s training camp thanks to his performance in the 2014 London (Ontario) Rookie Tournament and came out with a contract.
Heading into this tournament, Dea understands that his experience provides him with a unique perspective on these type of opportunities. He can serve as a leader and shining example to the other undrafted players attending the event with the Penguins on amateur tryout agreements.
“I remember my first year, [Jason] Megna and [Brian] Dumoulin were there, and they were the leaders,” Dea said. “Now, I’m back here in their job. Hopefully, I do it right and take the younger guys under my wing and make sure to help them to grow and get better as players.”
Dea may not have been at the rookie tournament with Pittsburgh two years ago, but he still knows this is the perfect time for an unclaimed talent to make a big impression on NHL scouts. If you want to make an impact, your biggest obstacle isn’t your draft status, rather it can end up being yourself.
“Any player here who was undrafted- even those who were drafted- if they have any questions, I’d be happy to answer and tell them my story,” Dea said. “Coming here at first, it was stressful. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, but I quickly learned that if you just play your game and show what you have, you’ll be alright. Now, I’m back here and can be a leader. So I just hope I can help in any way.”
After his revelation, Dea became a standout at Pittsburgh’s camp just by playing to his strengths and playing the game that he loves. When you can remember to do just that, any negativity that may be attached to your undrafted status disappears in the presence of the joy of the hockey.
“Coming in as an undrafted, you know, obviously I said I was nervous, but you realize there’s no pressure. You can just have fun, enjoy the moment. Embrace the challenge and enjoy.”
- The Penguins have boarded the bus and are en route to London, Ont. The team is scheduled to have one quick practice today at 6:30 p.m. before its first game of the tourney tomorrow, 3:35 p.m. vs. Montréal.