by Justin Vézina | AHL On The Beat
“We’re all gonna grow up together.”
It might seem like William Trudeau is talking about a new couple that just got engaged or a young family. But instead, the sophomore defenseman is referring to the Laval Rocket’s new core, which is built around several young guns.
In fact, the team regularly dresses eight rookies per game, all of whom have contributed so far on the scoreboard. The Rocket lead the AHL in terms of goals scored by a rookie with 19 entering the weekend.
“We have a lot of young players and it would be correct to say that we have a bit more affinity with each other,” said the 21-year-old Trudeau, who is already stepping up as a leader for other young defensemen like Logan Mailloux and Jayden Struble. “But [the rookies] know that when they have questions, they can always come and see us. I think everyone is very receptive, because we’re all in the same situation.”
That kind of message is pretty common inside the locker room.
“It’s good to have young guys in the same boat as us, going through our first pro season together,” said rookie forward Sean Farrell. “I think it’s good to lean on those guys.”
And the chemistry between all these newcomers is easy to spot. Farrell has been playing on a line with the October AHL Rookie of the Month Joshua Roy, and the duo are both in the top-10 for points by a rookie in the league.
Even though the freshmen are making waves this season, the guidance from veteran players has been the key.
“Having older guys around also helps sponge because you can see what they do and learn from them to see how to be a bit more pro,” said Farrell.
It’s a feeling that is also shared by Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle.
“They can help each other, that’s for sure,” said Houle. “But you can’t buy the experience of playing at the pro level. Some adapt more quickly than others.”
So the plan to keep all these rookies in a good spot is pretty simple for the coach.
“We mustn’t look too far ahead. We’ve got to take our time, stick to the day-to-day and hope we improve with every game. But there’s still a lot of experience for the youngsters to gain.”
Right now, they are all learning to be the best version of themselves that they can be. But soon enough, this cohort of the Laval Rocket will graduate all together.