The 28-year-old joins the Stars after spending the past eight years playing professionally across North America and Europe, in league such as the American Hockey League, the Swedish Allsvenskan and the Danish league.
Desjardins most recently iced with Bordeaux Boxers in the French top division, League Magnus, where last season he featured in 17 matches, scoring nine points (3G, 6A).
The Greenfield Park, Quebec native has played five seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and then moved on to play a total of 23 AHL games across three seasons.
Gabriel has also iced for two East Coast Hockey League teams across four seasons before he made his European hockey debut in 2018, in Sweden and from there he joined Danish side, SonderjyskE and helped them to finish as league runners-up.
The Canadian has also been called up to represent his country at U17 and U18 level in the World Hockey Challenge and World Junior Championship tournaments, scoring three points at both events.
In his career so far, Desjardins has racked up 100 assists and 213 points in the QMJHL, as well as 193 points in the ECHL.
Stars General Manager and Head Coach, Omar Pacha was happy to sign Gabriel up for the new campaign and he said: “I have been following Gab since he came into Europe.
“He has had a really good career in the ECHL and had contracts in the AHL and he is a player that I think has had some bad luck in Europe in Sweden and then in the Russian league.
“However, he is a guy that has a scoring touch and right now our team has size and speed, which he has as well but he also has that crucial scoring touch.
“He has had a lot of success in scoring at high levels, whether it be juniors in the QMJHL or at the ECHL level or even in Denmark.
“So, he is a guy that I believe will have a lot of success with the Stars.”
The Stars boss also spoke about Desjardins leadership qualities and Pacha continued: “He was a captain at junior level and if you look at who was on the team, there are many NHLers, including Nikita Kucherov.
“He was the captain of these guys and he had some really good coaching at the junior level and a number of his coaches spoke really highly of him.
“He has been a player that had a really good year across in the ECHL in his last year there and a really good playoff run as well.
“So, he is a guy that can be put in situations at important times and provide offence.
“Gabe also has a great shot and a great release, he skates extremely well, and he is a good team leader and for me that ticks a lot of the boxes when you have a guy that is a highly offensive individual, but who can also play the game the right way and score big goals.”
After agreeing to join the Stars, an ecstatic Desjardins said: “I am really excited to be coming to Dundee.
“I know the league has a really good calibre of hockey, so I will have to be ready from the first day and I heard that it is really physical like North American hockey, so I am going to have to be prepared for a big year.
“I also heard really good things about the Elite League and about a lot of good players making the jump to the UK.
“However, I have had some bad luck on my side with injuries and from last year with COVID, so I think it is a good step for my career.”
The left winger then explained the difficulties he faced in last season’s COVID-controlled campaign, he said: “It was a really hard year for me, first of all I had the birth of my daughter but there were some difficulties, so I had to go back home for a month and a half.
“So, I missed six weeks of the season in France and when I got back, COVID had taken over and we only played one game every one or two weeks until the end of the season.
“Therefore, I only played a handful of games, which was really hard for me.
“I was hoping to get a good year in after getting some injuries during my last two seasons in Europe, but I am looking forward to making this year my big year.”
Gabriel then shared more about how Pacha convinced him to join the Stars and he said: “I had some great discussion with Omar Pacha, and I was really convinced after hearing about the city and the fanbase and the organisation, so that all made it a really easy decision for me.
“My agent is Nic Riopel, who played in Dundee years ago and he had a lot of good things to say also.”
Discussing more about his connections to previous Stars players, Desjardins revealed: “I also know Anthony Beauregard because we have the same agent and I also know a new guy joining the team this year, Alexandre Ranger.
“Along with my agent, Nic, they all gave me really good references and they made me really excited to come over and start the season.”
Whilst Gabriel has played alongside many big NHL names and many ex-EIHLers, he is also an ex-teammate of former Stars, Matt Bissonnette (Canada Quebec U17, 2009) and Matt Marquardt (Florida Everblades, 2014-2016).
The former Stars captain also shared a few a words about Gabriel and what the Stars fans can expect from him next season.
Marquardt said: “Desi is a very dynamic player, very strong and quick, with a powerful stride.
“He has a very heavy shot and above all he is a character guy and a great teammate, the Stars fans will love him!”
Gabriel’s career started back in 2007, when he was playing for Montreal Predateurs of the Quebec midget triple A league and that year, he scored 22 points (10G, 12A) in 44 regular season games, before adding three more points in as many playoff matches.
At the start of the 2008/2009 season, he was drafted in Round 2, #24 overall by Halifax Mooseheads in QMJHL Entry Draft and began playing in Halifax that year.
In his rookie year, he posted 25 points (13G, 12A) in 60 matches and earned a call-up to the Canada Quebec U17 team for the World Hockey Challenge that summer, where scored twice.
Desjardins spent four years as a Moosehead, playing in 205 games and scoring a total of 87 points, before being traded to the Quebec Remparts and during his time as a Moosehead, he was also selected for Canada’s 2010 World Junior Championship roster.
After icing in 36 games with Quebec and scoring 36 points (19G, 17A), the summer of 2012 saw Gabriel join Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for his final year in the QMJHL and he captained the team while posting 74 points (32G, 42A) in 66 games, then added 15 more (9G, 6A) in 14 post-season fixtures.
The six-foot forward then made his professional debut in 2013 with the Colorado Avalanche’s AHL affiliate team, Lake Erie Monsters and after an injury meant he would only appear nine times for the Monsters, Desjardins split the following year between the ECHL and AHL.
He began the 2014-2015 campaign with Florida Everblades but earned a call up to their AHL affiliate, Charlotte Checkers and in the loan spell of 12 games, he recorded one assist, but still totalled 20 points (8G, 12A) in 47 matches that season.
A full season with the Everblades followed and after icing on 76 occasions, the 205lbs-left-handed forward had recorded 13 goals and 22 assists.
The left winger then joined Fort Wayne Komets for the 2016/2017 season and across two years with the Komets, he managed to keep his streak of appearing in the playoffs in every ECHL season he has played in, while also accumulating 139 points (67G, 72A) points from 150 matches.
Gabriel also won a professional try-out contract with the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate. Laval Rockets in the 2017-2018 season, making two appearances.
A European debut was next for the Canadian as he signed with Swedish Allsvenskan side, Vasterviks IK but after 10 games and five points (2G, 3A), he made the switch to Denmark and helped SonderjyskE to finish second in the top league.
Six goals and 10 assists in 26 combined Danish league and playoff matches, allowed Gabriel to earn a move to the Russian Vysshaya Hokkeinaya Liga in the next offseason, where he signed with Chinese club, ORG Beijing and was named as an alternate captain.
However, injuries continued to hamper his time in Europe and allowed him to play in just nine VHL games, in which he scored twice, but his luck would not change, as he joined Bordeaux Boxers in the French top division last year but only played in 17 games of the COVID hindered season.
Therefore, in his career so far, Desjardins has featured in 728 matches, scored 216 goals, assisted 254 times and has collected 523 penalty minutes, in a career that spans 14 seasons.
Gabriel is our 10th signing of the summer and joins Drydn Dow, Craig Garrigan, Kris Inglis, Alexandre Ranger, Connor Sills, Craig Moore, Kyle Haas, Brett Orr and Dillon Lawrence on the roster for next season.
You can get your season tickets to watch these 10 players and the rest of the team in the 2021-2022 campaign by contacting: [email protected]
Desjardins will wear the #14 Stars jersey next season.
To view Gabriel’s career stats on Elite Prospects click HERE.
Featured Image: Josh Gales.