News Blog: NHL debuts galore

Ken Campbell
By: Blog: NHL debuts galore

Phoenix's Kyle Turris battles for a puck during his first NHL action Thursday. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

News Blog: NHL debuts galore

Ken Campbell

Thursday night marked the debut of Kyle Turris of the Phoenix Coyotes, but he wasn’t the only former collegiate star to step on the ice as an NHL player for the first time that night.

In fact, a total of five players played their first NHL games Thursday, all of them with experience in U.S. college hockey and, with the exception of Turris, all of them American-born players.

Here’s how each of them did:

Kyle Turris, Phoenix:
As first reported by, Turris left the University of Wisconsin as soon as his season ended and joined the Coyotes for the last three games of the season.

Playing on a line with Shane Doan and Peter Mueller, Turris played a total of 22 shifts for 19:28 of ice time in a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. He also went minus-1, was 5-7 on faceoffs and had an impressive five shots on goal.

Justin Abdelkader, Detroit:
The only one of the five who was victorious in his debut, Abdelkader had 16 shifts for 11:20 of ice time in a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The former Michigan State left winger was minus-1, but recorded three hits and three shots on goal. “He’ll be a Red Wing one day,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said of Abdelkader, the 42nd overall choice in the 2005 draft.

Adam Pineault, Columbus:
Pineault played just one year of college hockey at Boston College before jumping to the Quebec League to play two seasons with the Moncton Wildcats.

The 46th overall selection in the 2004 draft, Pineault played 14 shifts for 8:56 of ice time in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. The right winger was minus-1 and had one shot on goal.

Jack Hillen, New York Islanders:
After finishing his season at Colorado College, Hillen found himself Thursday night playing with Radek Martinek in a game against the rival New York Rangers.

Hillen recorded 20 shifts for 15:39 of ice time and had an even plus/minus rating with one shot in a 3-0 loss.

Tom Cavanagh, San Jose:
The 26-year-old Cavanagh made his NHL debut Thursday night and recorded his first point, an assist, in a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

The former Harvard center recorded 16 shifts for 13:54 of ice time, went 1-2 on faceoffs and was also plus-1.

Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

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News Blog: NHL debuts galore