NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season continues with Wednesday’s matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild. Ducks-Wild stream coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
It took a while for Jamie Drysdale to realize he had just scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game.
Drysdale fired a shot during last Thursday’s win over Arizona and the puck hit off someone on front and went in behind Adin Hill. Did it hit off Alex Goligoski? Did Max Jones deflect it? The Ducks rookie didn’t know the second period goal was his until Kevin Shattenkirk broke the news to him during the third period.
“I had no idea to be honest,” Drysdale said after the overtime win. “I thought Jonesy got that for sure. I remember in the third period, I got back to the bench and Shatty was like, ‘Good job, kid. Attaboy.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, that was your goal.’ It was pretty cool to hear that. Definitely a special one.”
The goal was the first of what the Ducks hope are many coming from the young blue liner, who scored 16 times in 112 junior games. The 18-year-old Drysdale was the No. 6 overall pick in October’s entry draft and is another piece of a youth movement that is expected to turn the franchise’s fortunes around.
[PRE-GAME COVERAGE OF DUCKS-WILD BEGINS AT 5 P.M. ET – NBCSN]
That game against Arizona wasn’t just a momentous occasion for Drysdale. Fellow Ducks rookie Trevor Zegras scored his first NHL goal 2:29 later. Drysdale assisted on Zegras’ goal making him the third NHL defenseman ever to record multiple points in his debut at age 18 or younger. The other two defensemen? Ray Bourque and Petr Svoboda.
And how do you know you’re fitting in with a new group? You get the post-game prank business.
Ryan Getzlaf and the boys played a little prank postgame on Ducks rookie Jamie Drysdale, who scored his first goal in his NHL debut tonight. pic.twitter.com/Tu2DgYhsZb
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) March 19, 2021
Only three games into his NHL career and Drysdale is already impressing his veteran teammates.
“Great, great impressions,” said Kevin Shattenkirk. “He passes pucks hard and on the tape. His skating ability is incredible. The rest of it, the speed of the game, will all come to him. You can see him figuring it out as he goes. I think his attention to detail in that aspect is great to see out of a young player because it’s something that is very important in this league, to make sure, especially as defensemen, that we’re putting pucks on tapes and allowing the transition. It makes everyone look faster.”
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Drysdale began the season in AHL San Diego, playing 14 games and scoring four times and recording 10 points. With the Ontario Hockey League still finalizing return to play plans, the defenseman’s stay in Anaheim may be longer than originally planned. Of course, if he continues playing well via his 18-plus minutes a night there won’t be questions about where he might continue playing.
“He came in like he had been there for a very long time,” Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins said after Drysdale’s debut. “He closed like we’ve seen him close in San Diego. He moved the puck fast and hard like we’ve seen. He got shots through. He was a very, very confident young man. A really, really good first showing at this level.
“All the people at home should be very, very happy with that draft pick and the job that our scouts and management have put into that young man.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.