New Pro Paquette Making Positive First Impression

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Stacy Roest sees something in Cedric Paquette.

Roest, a developmental coaches working with the Syracuse Crunch practice squad, knows the transition from the junior to professional ranks means a faster pace and stronger competition.

But Paquette, the Tampa Bay Lightning's 2012 fourth-rounder, has the drive.

"He's the ultimate competitor," Roest said of Paquette. "He's a really high compete kid. He has a really good shot. His skating has to come a ways, but he's a good player."

Paquette, passed up in his first year of draft eligibility, posted 48 points in 63 regular season games and 17 points in 11 playoff games with the QMJHL's Blainville-Boisbrand Armada in 2011-12. After being selected by the Lightning, the 6-foot, 198-pound center registered 83 points in 63 regular games, and 12 points in 15 postseason games this year.

After the Blainville-Boisbriand was eliminated by Baie-Comeau in the QMJHL playoffs last month, Paquette signed a three-year entry level contract with the Lightning and was added to the Crunch practice squad.

Syracuse is in the second round of their Calder Cup playoff run, but Paquette has plenty of previous postseason experience. He hasn't missed a postseason, whether it was with College Notre-Dame Albatros in the QMAA or Blainville-Boisbrriand in the QMJHL.

"He wants to win," Roest said. "He plays the game to win, and that's what we like about him."

Even with impressive junior stats, Roest said Paquette, who speaks limited English, knows the importance of working himself into the lineup.

"He understands the process and what he has to do to be successful as a pro," Roest said.

Although he hasn't seen Paquette play much, Crunch coach Rob Zettler has heard nothing but positives.

"From what I've seen and heard, he's very responsible defensively," he said. "The best thing is that he works his tail off."

"I'd love to see him in a game, but I'm not sure if that's going to happen," Zettler added. "We're pretty deep right now."

It's a long-shot, but Roest reminds the players that they're just a few injuries away from suiting up.

"They obviously want to play," he said. "That's why they're here."