Notre Dame Hockey is leaving its mark in the NHL with eight former players opening the season on rosters
Although the NHL season technically started yesterday, today is when most of the National Hockey League begins their 2018-2019 season in hopes to capture Lord Stanley. The Irish are well represented across the league with eight players spread across seven different teams.
Anders Bjork (Boston Bruins), Ian Cole (Colorado Avalanche), Vinnie Hinostroza (Arizona Coyotes), Stephen Johns (Dallas Stars), Anders Lee (New York Islanders), Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey Devils), Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Riley Sheahan (Pittsburgh Penguins) are the eight names starting the year on NHL rosters.
Bjork, 22, enters his second year in the league after appearing in 30 games for the Bruins last season. He scored 4 goals and notched 8 assists in his limited action. He will look to make a bigger impact during the 2018-2019 season.
Cole, 29, started his career with the St. Louis Blues, but after spending his first four NHL seasons with St. Louis he was traded to Penguins in the middle of the 2014-2015 season. Cole went on to win two Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 2+ years with the team before getting trade again – this time to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He signed a three year deal with the Avalanche this off-season, and will look to provide some stability to a blue line in dire need of it.
Hinostroza, 24, was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks and spent his first three years there. He was traded to the Coyotes in July in the Marian Hossa salary dump deal. Vinnie enjoyed his most successful NHL campaign last year compiling 25 points in 50 games for the Hawks.
Johns, 26, was also drafted by the Blackhawks, but was traded to Dallas while he was on the verge of cracking the roster. He has spent the last three seasons with the Stars, and he posted career-best marks in both goals and assists last year. He was awarded with a three year contract extension in June.
Lee, 28, over the last two seasons has turned into one of the NHL’s premier goal scorers. In 2018-2019, he posted a career best 40 goals, 22 assists and reaching 62 points. With John Tavares now in Toronto, Lee was announced the Islander captain earlier today. An incredible honor for the 6 year vet.
Palmieri, 27, enters his fourth year with the Devils after spending his first five with the Anaheim Ducks. Palmieri dealt with injuries last year causing him to miss 20 games, but will still able to post 24 goals and 20 assists. His Devils were a surprise playoff team last year, and they will look to get back to the Stanley Cup playoffs this season.
Rust, 26, also a two-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Penguins continues a trend of career years by former Irish players. In 69 games, he recorded 13 goals and 25 assists along with a 15 +/- rating. At only 26, Rust will look to build on his recent success and become more of star for Pittsburgh.
Sheahan, 26, re-signed with the Penguins this offseason after being traded from the Detroit Red Wings last October. In 73 games with Pittsburgh, he scored 11 goals while tallying 21 assists. The seven year veteran looks forward to a big season in hopes to sign a multi-year contract next year.
Notre Dame Head Coach, Jeff Jackson, is building a very solid program in South Bend. 18 former Irish players have skated in the NHL under his tutelage, and that number should continue to climb with the talent that remains and that has left overall the last few seasons.