With the NHL finally back in action and lots of games played the past couple of days, there were many rookies who literally had unforgettable debuts. Here’s a look at some whose performance already has the league on notice.
Patrick Wiercioch (Ottawa Senators)
In a game which saw veteran Erik Karlsson lead the way Wiercioch made the most of his opportunity. His assist on Milan Michalek‘s late first period goal tied the game and the Sens went on to beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 Saturday night.
Simon Despres, Joe Vitale (Pittsburgh Penguins)
With James Neal getting much of the attention, and rightly so given his performance, these two made their presence felt on the league’s second day of action Sunday. Both assisted on Tyler Kennedy‘s goal early on as the Pens rolled over the New York Rangers, winning by a final score of 6-3.
Nazem Kadri, Michael Kostka, Ben Scrivens (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Kadri, in what looks to be his first full season with the Leafs, kicked things off with a power play goal. Meanwhile, in his NHL debut Kostka had an assist. Scrivens, the rookie goaltender who got the nod ahead of James Reimer, stopped 21 shots and the Leafs quieted their harsh fanbase for one night by beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 Saturday.
Mikael Granlund (Minnesota Wild)
With most everyone focused on the debuts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Granlund made sure he got some recognition as well. He scored the Wild’s second goal, helping them to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night. He also posted a plus-1 rating in the team’s 1-0 win Sunday night against the Dallas Stars.
Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers)
On a night that saw the Panthers raise their 2011-12 Southeast Division championship banner to the BB&T Center rafters Huberdeau, the third overall pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, made his presence felt big-time by scoring the teams first goal of 2013. He also added two assists as the Panthers silenced the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 Saturday night.
Cory Conacher (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Getting a chance to play on the second line alongside captain Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell Conacher, last season’s AHL MVP who also won 2012′s Calder Cup with the AHL‘s Norfolk Admirals, made the most of his opportunity. He scored the fifth goal of the game by going hard to the net and assisted on an earlier goal, both of which helped the Lightning open their 20th Anniversary season in style by beating the Washington Capitals 6-3 Saturday night.
Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues)
Easily the most prolific of all that have been mentioned thus far, Tarasenko wasted no time proving he belonged in the NHL. His two goals, one on the power play and one at even strength, helped power the Blues to a 6-0 shutout of the storied Detroit Red Wings Saturday night.
Honorable mentions go to the Avalanche’s Patrick Bordeleau and Boston Bruins Dougie Hamilton. Bordeleau was a plus-1, though his team lost to the Wild, and Hamilton’s first shift came on the power play. Given the Bruins’ past troubles with the man advantage, it’s worth noting that the youngster was called upon in that type of situation.
All that can be said is that these youngsters sure began their careers on the right note. Here’s hoping they’re able to keep growing and getting better. If they do this league could be in for a real treat.