my test line

Trudeau made big strides in rookie year

William Trudeau earned the respect of his teammates and coaches this season

MONTREAL — After watching the Rocket’s epic playoff run on TV last spring, defenseman William Trudeau is hungry to experience the AHL postseason for himself.

BUY: Laval Rocket Individual Tickets

Trudeau, 20, has been a bright spot on the back end for head coach Jean-François Houle’s contingent during his rookie campaign, making the most of every chance to put his skills on display.

The QMJHL product, who played three seasons with the Charlottetown Islanders before turning pro, couldn’t be happier with the way things have played out over the last six months.

“Signing with the Canadiens in October was a big confidence boost and a good way to start. Before that, I wasn’t sure where I’d play or what would happen, but knowing I’d begin the year with the Rocket was special,” said Trudeau, a fourth-round selection (113th overall) of Montreal in 2021. “I really expected my season to be more about learning and playing less games, but there were a lot of injuries, so I had a bigger role and I seized the opportunity.”

The numbers speak for themselves. Trudeau is among the club’s most productive blueliners with six goals and 25 points in 55 games, and he continues to impress night after night.

Transitioning to the professional ranks is always a challenge, but the Varennes, QC native has made steady progress.

“I’ve evolved a lot since last fall, just in terms of my confidence, my skating ability, and especially in the gym. I took a big step this season physically. We’re in the gym every day. That makes a big difference,” explained Trudeau. “On the ice, my mobility has also really improved because we do a lot of technical work as defensemen.”

He credits his teammates for giving him a helping hand, too.

Their guidance, advice and friendship has been invaluable in getting his game to where it currently is.

“The guys played a big role. When Alex Belzile was here, he was giving me a lot of good tips. He was really good with me and he taught me a lot. Olivier Galipeau has been great. We always get to the rink early in the morning and train, and we do extra work on the ice together. Nic Beaudin has been a big help with tips as well, so I’m grateful for that,” praised Trudeau. “Playing with Corey Schueneman was big, too. He’s an excellent veteran and leader. He’s always teaching me on the bench – ‘You can do this or that’ or ‘You can shoot in these situations’ – so it’s good to hear things like that.”

Houle and the rest of the Rocket coaches have also been a tremendously positive influence on the youngster.

He doesn’t feel pressure to be perfect all the time, which has only heightened his comfort level.

“We’re hockey players. We’re going to make mistakes. It’s a game of mistakes. It’s going to happen every game. J-F and the staff are really good about coming to see you about it and showing you video, showing you what you can do instead if a similar situation happens,” said Trudeau. “They’re all good teachers and the success that we have as a group comes from them.”

For his part, Houle quickly became a Trudeau fan.

The veteran bench boss is pleased with the way No. 84 has adapted to his new surroundings.

“William is one of our most improved players. At the beginning of the year, he wasn’t sure if we were going to be sending him back to Junior or keeping him, but he really made incredible progress. We give him opportunities in a lot of different situations and he takes advantage of those opportunities to grow as a professional,” stated Houle. “He’s also well-liked by his teammates. We’ll need him to keep winning.”

Speaking of Trudeau being appreciated by his fellow players, Lucas Condotta called him an “unsung hero” for the Rocket this season, while Schueneman sees nothing but good things in his future.

There’s no denying that the rearguard is highly regarded.

“He’s been very good. From the start of the season to now has been very good development for him. He’s adapted tremendously. At the beginning he was maybe a little timid, but he’s gotten so much confidence and he’s come out of his shell,” said Schueneman. “I’m happy for him, I’m rooting for him, and at the end of the day it’s fun to watch.”

Helping the Rocket clinch a playoff berth is the primary objective on Trudeau’s list right now, of course.

The chance to play at Place Bell in such an electric atmosphere would be a dream come true.

“I watched a bit last year when everybody in the stands was wearing white and waving the towels,” concluded Trudeau. “It was so full and I want to feel that.”

This profile is part of a series of articles to promote the Laval Rocket during their 2022-23 playoff push. 

For individual tickets, click here.