Winding road brings ex-Penguins forward Jean-Sebastien Dea to New Jersey
When the clock struck noon on Sept. 28, forward Jean-Sebastien Dea packed his bags and began the five-hour drive across the state.
The Penguins had put him on waivers with the intent to send him to the AHL the day before, and since he hadn’t heard from anyone about being claimed, he was beginning to make his way to Wilkes-Barre.
One phone call changed his travel plans in a big way.
He had been claimed on waivers by the New Jersey Devils, who were about to begin a European road trip with stops in Switzerland and Sweden.
“I got the call at like 12:05 or something,” Dea said. “I had to go to Pittsburgh airport and fly to Toronto and then Europe. It was crazy, but really happy to be here now.”
With the Penguins, Dea was buried under an avalanche of centers on the organizational depth chart. He’s been in the lineup for the Devils every night since he was claimed, scoring goals in three of his first four games with the team.
“Bring some speed, bring energy, hard on the forecheck, good both sides of the ice,” Dea said. “That’s what they want here. If I score goals, that’s just a bonus for me.”
The waiver claim reunited Dea with John Hynes, who was his coach during his first pro season in Wilkes-Barre in 2014-15.
Hynes is a no-nonsense coach who was sometimes tough on prospects, Dea included. Hynes thinking Dea is an NHL-caliber player is a testament to how far he’s come in the four years since.
“I remember I had a few meetings with Hynsie my first year. He was really hard on me to work on a few things,” Dea said. “He’s a big part of my success in the American League. He showed me the right way. Coming out of junior, I had more of a lazy attitude, putting up a lot of points and stuff. He showed me the right way to have success in the American League. I’m grateful to be here now.”
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