Islanders forward William Dufour skates during Prospect Development Camp at...

Islanders forward William Dufour skates during Prospect Development Camp at Northwell Health Ice Center on Sept. 14. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Jean-Gabriel Pageau shares a French-Canadian heritage and a foundation in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Islanders’ prospect William Dufour. So, the NHL veteran took an interest in Dufour’s budding career and began reaching out via text to offer encouragement.

Then, the 5-11, 185-pound Pageau, originally from Ottawa, met the 6-2, 215-pound Dufour, who grew up in Quebec City and who helped lead Team Canada to gold in the World Junior Championships in August with three goals and four assists in seven games.

“He was way bigger in person than I imagined,” Pageau said. “He’s part of the big horses, that’s for sure. Seeing a young guy being that big, I think things can just improve. Size is something you cannot work on so he’s got that already.”

Dufour’s combination of size, physicality, shooting and playmaking has been one of the more intriguing storylines at Islanders’ camp. He was a fifth-round pick who blossomed last season, leading Saint John to the Memorial Cup while setting career highs with 56 goals, 60 assists and 40 penalty minutes in 66 games.

Spoiler alert: President and general manager Lou Lamoriello said before camp opened Dufour is probably not ready to make the jump from junior hockey to the NHL.

But Dufour survived Thursday’s first round of cuts to the training camp roster and may get a chance to dress for his second preseason game on Sunday night against the Flyers at UBS Arena.

“I think I can play physical,” said Dufour, who will likely start the season with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. “I feel like I can shoot the puck. I can be responsible in my zone. So I think I can play many types of game. I think my main asset is my shot and my offense and my physicality. Wherever I play, I want to play my game, physical, put some pucks on the net, play behind their defensemen. Play with pace.”

Dufour logged 14:31, including 4:15 on the power play, with one shot and one blocked shot in Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Devils at Prudential Center. He set up the Islanders’ lone goal with an accurate head-man pass from the defensive zone to spring Nikita Soshnikov past the Devils’ defense.

“I liked his skating,” coach Lane Lambert said. “I liked his ability to get up the ice. He’s a big body. He protects the puck well. He made a heck of a pass on the goal. There was a lot of good things to like about him in that game and I’ll think he’ll just keep building. Right now, he’s got to continue to get faster. His understanding of the game at the pro level, he’s working on that.”

Dufour said the biggest improvement has been his confidence.

“When I was 16, 17, I remember I was doing so much passively,” Dufour said. “I wasn’t shooting. I remember in the World Juniors, I [deked] a guy and I shot. Maybe when I was 16 or 17, I would pass the puck.”

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