Publish date:

Geekie's big night matches Hurricanes record – who has had the best rookie debut for NHL's other franchises?

With two goals and three points in his NHL debut, Hurricanes rookie Morgan Geekie has matched a franchise mark that has stood since before he was born and predates the organization's time in Carolina. What are the best rookie debuts for each franchise? We take a look.

Take a bow, Morgan Geekie.

Making his NHL debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 21-year-old had himself one heck of a night. Not only did he score his first NHL goal less than 10 minutes into the outing, Geekie went out and picked up a secondary helper on the game-tying goal in the second period and capped the night with the final nail in the coffin. With Carolina already ahead 5-2, Geekie netted his second of the night and Carolina’s six of the contest in a 6-2 Hurricanes victory.

With a three-point effort in his rookie debut, Geekie became the 44th player in NHL history to score as many points in his first taste of NHL action and the first since Ryan Poehling notched a hat trick for the Montreal Canadiens in the final days of the 2018-19 campaign. Geekie is also the 59th rookie in NHL history to score multiple goals in his debut. As one might have surmised, Geekie’s three-point effort is also the highest-scoring rookie debut in Hurricanes history, tied with Dan Bourbonnais' three-point night with the Hartford Whalers in 1981.

But if Geekie has bragging rights to the best debut in Carolina’s history, who holds the mark for the NHL’s other franchises? Here’s a rundown of the best rookie debut for each NHL club:

(Note: The first tiebreaker is goals and second tiebreaker is date, the most recent game getting the nod.)

Anaheim Ducks:Stanislav Chistov’s NHL career was incredibly brief, spanning only three campaigns and fewer than 200 big-league contests, but he sure knew how to make a debut. Selected fifth overall in 2001 by the Ducks, the Russian winger made the move to Anaheim the following campaign and factored in on each of the four goals in the then-Mighty Ducks’ 4-3 win over the Blues. He had one goal and four points in that Oct. 10, 2002 game, and each of his assists were secondary helpers.

Arizona Coyotes: As noted above, the first tiebreaker is goals. The second tiebreaker is date. Thus, Max Domi earns the nod for the Coyotes, as his one-goal, two-point debut with the Coyotes on Oct. 9, 2015 is one of a handful of games in franchise history that a rookie has had a two-point night to begin their career. Others on the list include Teemu Selanne, Shane Doan and Danton Cole.

Boston Bruins: There are 15 rookies in the storied history of the Bruins who have scored two points in their NHL debut, including current members Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk. Ryan Donato, however, stands apart from the pack with a one-goal, three-point effort in his first NHL game on March 19, 2018. That hardly bought him much time with the organization, though. He played just 46 games with the Bruins before being moved in the deal that saw Boston acquire Charlie Coyle.

Buffalo Sabres: Another date-based tiebreaker, and this one goes to Maxim Afinogenov, who marvelled with one goal and two points in his debut on Nov. 10, 1999, little more than two years after he was a third-round, 69th-overall selection of the Sabres. Afinogenov went on to make a major mark in Buffalo, scoring 134 goals and 334 points with the franchise across 569 games and nearly a decade with the franchise.

Calgary Flames: Sergei Makarov’s introduction to the NHL was an absolute barnburner. In a season-opening tilt between the Flames and Red Wings, a total fo 17 goals were scored in a 10-7 Calgary victory, and it wasn’t until Al MacInnis’ third-period tally that the game-winner was scored. Makarov’s one goal and three points tied him with Doug Gilmour and Paul Ranheim for second-most points by a Flame in the Oct. 5, 1989 outing. Jan Hrdina led the way with four points.

Chicago Blackhawks: No Blackhawk since Denis Savard in October 1980 has scored more than two points in a rookie debut, while Ralph Nattrass holds the record as a result of his two-goal, three-point output on Dec. 8, 1946. Unfortunate ending to this one for the Blackhawks, however. Nattrass’ three points weren’t enough as Chicago fell 5-3 to Montreal.

Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon’s two-point debut in 2013 isn’t a distant memory, but it is second on the franchise list behind Vaclav Nedorost notching one goal and two points in a 3-1 Avalanche victory over the Penguins on Oct. 3, 2001. Hilarious about Nedorost’s big debut is that he followed it with one goal and two points throughout the remainder of the campaign and ended his career having scored just 10 goals and 20 points in 100 NHL games.

Columbus Blue Jackets: In a season-opener between the Blue Jackets and Stars, nearly 16 minute passed before either team struck. But when the scoreless tie was finally broken, it was Jakub Voracek who rifled home his first career goal to kick off a one-goal, two-point effort in an eventual 5-4 overtime win for Columbus on Oct. 10, 2008. Voracek remains a superb playmaker, but all of his best years have come as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Dallas Stars: At first, the thought was this honor belonged toFabian Brunnstrom, who had a hat trick in his NHL debut. But turns out Roland Eriksson did one better in his debut with the Minnesota North Stars on Oct. 6, 1976. However, despite Eriksson’s four assists against the Rangers, the North Stars lost the contest 6-5. Eriksson wound up a finalist for the Calder Trophy come the end of 1976-77, but he was out of the NHL and WHA by 1978-79, departing for a career overseas.

Detroit Red Wings: Dutch Reibel had a short but incredibly successful NHL career, and it all began with a four-point night in his first career game, an Oct. 8, 1953 contest in which he had a helper on every Red Wings goal in a 4-1 win over the Rangers. By the end of that season, Reibel hoisted the first of back-to-back Stanley Cups. He won the Lady Byng in 1955-56 and ended his career following the 1958-59 season. He scored 84 goals and 245 points in 406 career games.

Edmonton Oilers: Even if Wayne Gretzky would have qualified as a rookie in his first NHL season, he wouldn’t have topped this list. He mustered just one assist in his first contest in the league. What a slouch, right? Anyway, the nod here goes to Jordan Eberle, whose one-goal, two-point output in Edmonton’s 4-0 blanking of Calgary on Oct. 7, 2010 helped make the difference. Eberle’s first NHL goal remains one of the more memorable of the modern era.

Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau began his pursuit of the Calder, which he did indeed win, with a stunning effort against Carolina on Jan. 19, 2013. Little more than three minutes into the outing, Huberdeau scored his first career goal and contributed three points in the Panthers’ 5-1 victory over the Hurricanes. That set him up for a 17-goal, 31-point campaign and he has since become Florida’s most lethal offensive weapon.

Los Angeles Kings: Three times in Kings history a player has made his debut and scored three points, but none more recent than Eric Belanger, who notched one goal and three points on Oct. 6, 2000 against the Capitals. Belanger had all three of his points after 40 minutes, beginning with an assist roughly 90 seconds into the game. Talk about getting the nerves out.

Minnesota Wild: Marian Gaborik? Mikko Koivu? Heck, maybe even Pierre-Marc Bouchard? Nope, nope and nope. Louie Belpedio holds the franchise record, scoring two points – both assists – in his first career NHL game. The pair of helpers came just two seasons ago in the Wild’s 6-3 win over the Sharks on April 7, 2018. Since that outing, Belpedio has played another two games in the NHL.

Montreal Canadiens: You know franchise history runs deep when a hat trick isn’t enough to put you atop the list. Such is the case for Ryan Poehling, whose three-goal game on April 6, 2019 is only the third-best output in a debut in Canadiens history. The record? Joe Malone’s five goals against the Senators on Dec. 19, 1917. It was a different time, to be sure, but that does little to change how impressive the feat is.

Nashville Predators: There is not a single Predator in franchise history who has scored multiple points in his NHL debut. In fact, not since Sam Girard has Nashville had a rookie register a point in his first game. But for our purposes here, the nod goes to Miikka Salomaki. He scored one goal on Jan. 8, 2015, and he’s the most recent Predator to do so in his first career game.

New Jersey Devils:Will Butcher used his college free agency to pick his landing spot, and there was no better way for the blueliner to assert he had made the right choice than going out and posting a three-point night in his debut on Oct. 7, 2017. Fittingly, the three points, all of which were assists, came against the Avalanche, by whom Butcher had been drafted but chose to spurn for free agency. Of course, given the position the two clubs are in now, maybe he made the wrong choice.

New York Islanders:Duane Sutter could not have possibly done more to help his team in his debut, but it was all for naught. Playing in his first NHL game on Nov. 30, 1979, Sutter was all over the scoresheet for the Islanders. He scored two goals and three points and contributed on every bit of offense New York mustered that night. However, the Oilers scored five times, and Sutter’s night ended with a loss.

New York Rangers: There are nine players in NHL history who’ve scored a hat trick (or better) in their debut, and Derek Stepan can count himself among that group. Stepan scored his first career goal 11 minutes into the outing, but it’s his second and third tallies that were the biggest. The second in the final five minutes of the middle frame put New York ahead 3-1 in their Oct. 9, 2010 meeting with Buffalo, and Stepan’s third goal was the eventual game winner in the Rangers’ 6-3 win over the Sabres.

Ottawa Senators: Technically, the Senators’ franchise history begins in 1992-93, which makes Maxime Lajoie’s goal and two points on Oct. 4, 2018 the record for a rookie debut. However, if one includes the original Senators franchise, then Cy Denneny’s mark hasn’t been bested. He registered three goals and four points on Dec. 19, 1917 in Ottawa’s 7-4 loss to Montreal.

Philadelphia Flyers: The NHL record for highest-scoring debuts is a three-way tie that includes Hall of Famers Joe Malone and Harry Hyland, which makes Al Hill’s five-point night the oddity. The incredible single-game effort came on Feb. 14, 1977, and what’s funny about Hill’s output is that it was followed by another eight games in which he registered only a single point. He played all of 34 games over the next two campaigns and finished his career with 40 goals and 95 points in 221 contests. He is decidedly not in the Hall of Fame.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Given all the talent that has come through Pittsburgh, from Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, one might assume it’s one of those four who had the best debut. But Lemieux was the only one with a two-point night and that doesn’t match the two-goal output of Jake Guentzel on Nov. 21, 2016. Guentzel’s feat actually matched Rob Brown’s two-goal effort on Oct. 21, 1987, but tie goes to the more recent output.

San Jose Sharks: It wasn’t until his second season that Devin Setoguchi had his remarkable breakout, but the signs that he could be a big-time scorer on Joe Thornton’s wing were there early. In his NHL debut on Oct. 29, 2007, Setoguchi scored two goals, both assisted by Thornton, in San Jose’s 4-2 win over Dallas. He’s the only Shark with a multi-goal rookie debut.

St. Louis Blues: Douglas Palazzari scored two goals in his first game as a St. Louis Blue, and it’s a mark that remained unmatched for nearly 40 years…and then Vladimir Tarasenko came along. Kicking off the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, the Blues blasted the Red Wings 6-0 and Tarasenko scored twice in the contest. It turned out that he mustered only eight goals all season, but he has since become a consistent 30-goal threat with legitimate 40-goal potential each season.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Not until recently was Paul Mara’s one-goal, two-point debut effort in 1999 bested, but it has since been matched twice. First, Cory Conacher made his mark with a one-goal, two-point game to begin the 2012-13 season, but that has since been followed by Anthony Cirelli’s one-goal, two-point performance against the Stars on March 1, 2018. Coincidentally, that game ended in overtime when Conacher scored the winner for the Lightning.

Toronto Maple Leafs:Auston Matthews’ four-goal game against the Senators on Oct. 12, 2016, opening night of that campaign, is hard to forget. What you might not know, however, is that it was the second time in franchise history a player had debuted with a four-goal outing. Reg Noble scored four on Dec. 19, 1917 against the Montreal Wanderers. As it turns out, the Arenas, who later became the Maple Leafs, lost that game, just as Matthews and Toronto dropped his debut 5-4 in overtime to Ottawa.

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks absolutely blew the doors off of the Rockies to kick off the 1978-79 season, and in the 8-2 blasting of Colorado on Oct. 11, 1978, Vancouver rookie Thomas Gradin was all over the ice. He scored his first career goal and ended the outing with two goals and three points in the victory. It just so happens that the game featured two multi-point debuts for Canucks rookies, too, as Curt Fraser managed one goal and two points.

Vegas Golden Knights: His rookie campaign has been up and down, somewhat literally, but long before he was sidelined for the remainder, Cody Glass made his mark with one goal in his first game in the NHL. The marker in the Oct. 2, 2019 game against the Sharks was an insurance tally in the second frame, and it was the first of five he scored this season. Glass managed 12 points in 39 games this season.

Washington Capitals: Not ‘Ovi,’ but Novy. On Oct. 6, 1982, Milan Novy chipped in one goal and three points in the Capitals’ 5-4 defeat of the Rangers. That campaign was the lone NHL season Novy played, during which he scored 18 goals and 48 points in 73 games. He departed after the season was over, though, and skated several seasons overseas before hanging them up. Wondering about Alex Ovechkin? He scored twice in his debut, but the two points put him in a tie with seven other Capitals.

Winnipeg Jets: The expectation was that Patrik Laine would be an impact offensive player in the NHL. In his debut on Oct. 13, 2016, he was exactly that, registering one goal and two points in the Jets’ 5-4 overtime victory over the Hurricanes. Laine picked a great time to find the scoresheet, too. His goal with less than seven minutes remaining brought Winnipeg within one and his assist in the final 90 seconds was on the game-tying goal.

Want more in-depth features and analysis? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

TOP HEADLINES

Anze Kopitar
Play

THN Three Stars: Kopitar, Campbell, Stamkos Shine in Week 1

After an eventful first week to open up the NHL season, Adam Proteau looks at three players that stood up over the rest.

Shane Wright
Play

Prospect Roundup: Early Season CHL Stock Watch

The CHL season is in full swing, with many top prospects making the most - or in some cases, not so much - of the new season. Here's a look at how some of the more notable prospects have shaped up thus far.

HockeyPR

Puerto Rico Wins Gold in First Women's Hockey Tournament

On Thursday, Puerto Rico beat Chile for its first win in its first game. Three days later, they were crowned champions at the Amerigol Latam Cup in Florida.