2009-10: Jonathan-Ismael Diaby played for the College Esther-Blondin Phenix in Quebec midget AAA hockey. He had 1 goal with 5 assists and 60 penalty minutes in 39 games. Diaby was drafted by Victoriaville in the fourth round (59th overall) of the 2010 QMJHL Entry Draft.
2010-11: Diaby played 19 regular season games and three playoff contests in the QMJHL for Victoriaville while playing for College Esther-Blondin in midget hockey. He had no points and was minus-one in 22 games for the Tigres. He scored 2 goals with 9 assists and had 79 penalty minutes in 20 games for the Phenix, which finished third in the CCM Division.
2011-12: Diaby skated in 51 games for Victoriaville as the Tigres finished with the QMJHL’s third best record. He scored 1 goal with 8 assists and was plus-eight with 64 penalty minutes. The Tigres finished second in the East Division but were swept by Baie-Comeau in the first round of the playoffs. Diaby had no points and was minus-two with 11 penalty minutes in four playoff games.
2012-13: Diaby was the second-leading scorer amongst defensemen for Victoriaville in his second QMJHL season. He scored 4 goals with 22 assists and was plus-12 in 67 games and had 117 penalty minutes. The Tigres advanced to the second round of the playoffs after finishing fourth in the East Division and in nine playoff games Diaby was minus-two with 1 assist and 20 penalty minutes. He was ranked 37th amongst North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings prior to the 2013 NHL Draft.
2013-14: Diaby returned to the Victoriaville lineup in early December after recovering from his shoulder surgery and made his professional debut after the Tigres were eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs; skating in four games with Nashville AHL affiliate Milwaukee. He quickly made his presence felt for Victoriaville — scoring two goals in his second game back and registering six points in his first six games. He had one assist and had an even plus/minus with five penalty minutes with Milwaukee. Diaby finished the QMJHL regular season with nine goals and 19 assists and was +11 with 80 penalty minutes in 38 games for the Tigres. He scored 1 goal with 4 assists and was plus-three with four penalty minutes in the five-game playoff series with Drummondville. In January he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Predators.
2014-15: Diaby experienced the growing pains not uncommon for a 20-year-old making the jump from juniors to pro hockey — skating briefly for the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones and appearing in 52 games for Nashville AHL affiliate Milwaukee in his first pro season. He had 2 assists and was +4 with 94 penalty minutes with the Admirals, who missed the AHL playoffs after finishing fifth in the Midwest Division. Diaby had 1 assist and was -2 with 2 penalty minute in two ECHL games with the Cyclones.
Diaby is blessed with huge size and athleticism and is a punishing force on the blue line. His physical stature makes the lives of opposing players difficult as they try to enter into the offensive zone. He pairs that size with a nasty edge, allowing him to play a physical style without sacrificing positioning. He can make a solid first pass out of the zone, but his game is primarily defense-first. Diaby is a work in progress in terms of his agility and all-around game but projects as a strong shut-down defender as he continues to mature.
Diaby will challenge for a lower pairing role with the Predators in his second training camp but is likely to start the 2015-16 season with AHL affiliate Milwaukee. Not as flashy as some of the other defense prospects in the Nashville system, he has the size and bulk that many others lack. Long-term Diaby projects as a solid, punishing defender that can provide offense with his skating and shot.