Welcome to the NHL: Morgan Rielly gets a taste of the Battle of Ontario


Looking back on the weekend that was six new players got their first taste of NHL action. There are some high draft picks, some mid draft picks and a player who was never drafted at all.

Elias Lindholm, Carolina
Hailing from Boden, Sweden, the fifth overall pick from the most recent draft logged 9:16 of ice with a blocked shot in his first NHL game – and first game in a North American League. Lindholm, a smart and sturdy centre, put up 30 points in 48 games with Brynas in the top Swedish League last season. The Canes lost a heartbreaker, 3-2 to Detroit.

Boon Jenner, Columbus
Voted by OHL coaches as the hardest working player in the circuit, Jenner made the Blue Jackets with much fanfare. From London, Ont., Jenner played four seasons with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, topping out at 82 points in 56 games last season. He has 10 points in 18 AHL regular and post-season games. Jenner logged 10:27 of ice with two shots and two hits in his first NHL game – a 4-3 loss to Calgary.

Ryan Murray, Columbus
Picked only behind Nail Yakupov at the 2012 draft, Murray comes from White City, Sask., and played four seasons with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. A calm, two-way defenseman, Murray had a bit of a rough first outing, posting a minus-2 with a shot, a hit and two blocked shots in 14:19 of ice time. Big things are yet to come – bigger than that performance in a 4-3 loss to Calgary.

Spencer Abbott, Toronto
A Hamilton, Ont., native and University of Maine grad, Abbott is a bit undersized at 5-foot-9, but he made his debut in the Battle of Ontario Saturday night. He went minus-2 with two shots and a hit in only 5:16 of ice. Abbott, who was never drafted, scored 33 points in 55 games with the AHL’s Marlies last season, his first full year of pro hockey.

Morgan Rielly, Toronto
The fifth overall pick in 2012 and Vancouver native, Rielly got into the lineup after a Mark Fraser injury, but wasn’t exactly eased in. His first game was also in the Battle of Ontario and he saw 18:07 of ice. Rielly did get four shots – nearly scoring on one – but also had four giveaways in Toronto’s come from behind 5-4 shootout win. The defenseman is still eligible for junior hockey and could yet be sent back to the WHL’s MooseJaw Warriors, where he has spent the past three years.

Michael Bournival, Montreal
A native of Shawinigan-Sud, Que., Bournival is a graduate of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes club and spent last season with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL. He had 30 points in 69 games in his first pro season and got a taste of the top level Saturday night. A third-rounder (71st overall) in 2010, Bournival saw 6:09 of ice and had a shot and a hit in a 4-1 win against Philadelphia.