Scored in the third period with the Sharks down 3-0 in Game 4, the first San Jose tally—which came seven minutes into the final frame—may seem insignificant now.
It is not that it started a monumental comeback (it didn’t).
Or that it was scored by a superstar that needed redemption (it wasn’t).
In fact, it was fired from the tape of a rather non-descript player who had only played in 17 regular season games and had only spent six minutes on the ice in what was his second-ever playoff game.
“That was obviously a sweet memory,” said center Andrew Desjardins, an undrafted player out of Lively, Ontario who signed as a free agent with the Sharks in June of 2010.
“The whole opportunity just to play in the playoffs,” he continued, “and just to score and just to help out the team, that was awesome.”
Desjardins spent four years with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, but never scored more than 20 goals (he only played in six games his third year) and spent his last two years as a 19- and 20-year-old watching his teammates get drafted.
In 2007, he joined the Laredo (Texas) Bucks of the Central Hockey League (CHL). The CHL, which was formed in 1992, is an independent hockey league a tier below the ECHL.
In June of 2010, the league announced that it would merge with the International Hockey League.
After a year in Laredo, he played five games in Phoenix with the Roadrunners of the ECHL.
The team would cease operations after that season.
With the earth slowly falling beneath him, Desjardins landed on solid ground in Massachusetts, where he joined the Worcester Sharks on a minor league contract where he played out the rest of the 2008-09 season.
This year, he signed a two-way contract with the Sharks…the team in San Jose.
“It’s been an up-and-down kind of road,” he said. “I just stuck with it.”
Next year, he will have to fight for a spot in training camp, but the Sharks will give him a good look.
“Andrew Desjardins earned it,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson. “He’s worked hard just to get to this point. He’s paid his dues.
“He is a highly-competitive kid that will come in and compete for a spot on this team.”
“I’ve got to come here and earn [a spot] right from the get go,” said Desjardins, “and prove that I can stay there and be an impact player.”
Other teams in non-traditional markets may be on shaky ground. The Atlanta Thrashers look like they are going to move to Winnipeg, Manitoba and the city of Glendale had to fork up $25 million to keep the Phoenix Coyotes from relocating.
However, the Sharks thriving in sun-baked Northern California and could become a home for the peripatetic Desjardins.
With $51 million tied up in 14 players under contract, the Sharks cannot afford to spend big on depth in the offseason, even if the salary cap is to increase to $62.2 million, as reported by the New York Post, or $63.3 million as reported by the Montreal Gazette.
A restricted free agent with a half-million dollar cap it, Desjardins is a cheaper option than unrestricted free agents Jamal Mayers ($600,000), Kyle Wellwood ($650,000) and Scott Nichol ($750,000).
With a two-way contract he’s able to bounce between Worcester and San Jose and could also be used as a healthy scratch.
Expect to see this man in teal next year. He’s got to do something significant.
By making an NHL roster and scoring a playoff goal, he already has.
Tom Schreier is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from the San Jose Sharks.
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