Quenneville Confident at Camp After Big Season
By Cory Wright / New York Islanders (@WrightsWay)
At 5'9, David Quenneville doesn't need anyone to tell he's on the shorter side among defensemen at New York Islanders Mini Camp.
He's already heard it, but that's fine, it keeps him motivated and gives him some extra drive when going into the corners or clearing the front of the net.
"I like just proving people wrong," Quenneville said. "I'm a small guy and I've had doubters my whole life. Just have to keep proving."
A word of advice, underestimate Quenneville at your own peril. The Islanders 2016 seventh-round pick just capped his junior career by leading all Western Hockey League defensemen in goals (26) and points (80).
It was a career-year for Quenneville, but the bulldog defenseman has been a reliable point producer for the past three seasons, recording at least 55 points in each of the last three campaigns, including 59 in an injury-shorted 2016-17, when he suffered a broken leg.
This season, Quenneville surpassed the 200-point mark and became Medicine Hat Tigers' all-time leading scorer among defenseman, wrapping up his Tigers career with 214 points (69G, 145A) in 251 games.
"He's had a great career and has 200 points now in the Western League, which is a huge number for a d-man," Quenneville's brother, and New Jersey Devils prospect, John said. "I don' think there's very many d-men in the last 10 years that have done that, so it's a really good career in the Western League."
Of all of Quenneville's junior accomplishments, setting the Tigers' d-man scoring record stands above the rest and the Edmonton, AB, native is happy he was able to eclipse the mark when trade rumors swirled around the deadline.
"That was one I really wanted," Quenneville said. "When you get drafted into an organization, whether it's junior or the NHL, and you want to become an all-time great and just so grateful to be able to do that with Medicine Hat."
The Islanders drafted Quenneville in the seventh round (200th overall) of the 2016 draft and that's another source of fuel the defenseman has used as motivation, as well as a learning tool.
"We all want to get drafted higher than we probably did, but it doesn't really matter," Quenneville said. "I got drafted to the Islanders, I got put in a great spot and great opportunity here. At the same time you have to look at yourself in the mirror and look at your deficiencies and looking back I did have a lot of deficiencies. I didn't skate that well when I was 17. I for sure didn't defend that well, but I think it's just all about getting better. There are guys that are 35 years old in the NHL still trying to get better and finding ways every day to get better."
After Medicine Hat was eliminated by Lethbridge in the second round of the WHL playoffs, Quenneville signed an ATO (amateur tryout) with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, getting three games of pro experience. The 20 year old is now old enough to play in the AHL and that sneak peak into pro life has helped shape his summer training.
"Its obviously great to play against your peers in the Western League and stack up, but as soon as you get to your first taste of pro there and you really get to play against the big boys, it was really exciting for me," Quenneville said.
Quenneville capped the year by signing a three-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, another checkpoint on the road towards the NHL.
"All the kids growing up playing hockey want to sign an NHL contract," Quenneville said. "I'm really proud of the work I put in and I'm just really happy I got signed and I'm really happy to be here."
The NHL is the ultimate goal for Quenneville, who has played himself to the pros. He and John, who has spent the past two seasons playing in Binghamton, have talked about the prospect of playing against each other, especially that they play for division rivals.
"You grow up playing with your brothers in the backyard rink, trying to run each other and obviously trying to get the better of each other all the time," David Quenneville said. " I just need to keep getting better to hopefully reach the pinnacle and play in the NHL, and hopefully be able to play against my brother it would be more than a dream come true."
Quenneville thinks the way the game has adapted is helpful for smaller players like himself. His philosophy is that as long as he keeps scoring and producing, he's confident in his abilities to keep on his upward trajectory, keep proving people wrong and one day play for the Islanders.