OHL graduates enjoy NHL debuts as 2019-20 season gets underway

Ontario Hockey League

Nine OHL graduates both recent and a few after some time in the minor pro ranks have made their NHL debuts as the 2019-20 season has gotten underway.

Here’s a glimpse into the first few games of their NHL careers and a snapshot of the path it took to get there.

Connor Bunnaman, Philadelphia Flyers – Kitchener Rangers 2014-18
A former Kitchener Rangers captain, Connor Bunnaman so impressed throughout the pre-season that Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault was left with no choice but to keep the 21-year-old former fourth round pick around.

After a four-year OHL career in Kitchener, Bunnaman spent the 2018-19 campaign with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms where he put up 32 points (19-13–32) over 62 games.

The Guelph, Ont. native made his NHL debut on Oct. 4th against the Chicago Blackhawks.


Nicholas Caamano, Dallas Stars – Plymouth/Flint/Hamilton – 2014-18
Former fifth round NHL Draft pick Nicholas Caamano has managed to stick with the Dallas Stars to begin the 2019-20 season, doing so after one year in the American Hockey League.

The 21-year-old from Ancaster, Ont. graduated as an OHL champion with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2018 and was also a member of the last Plymouth Whalers club to compete in the league. Caamano also performed well in his time with the Flint Firebirds, scoring 35 goals in the 2016-17 season. He put up 36 points (13-13–26) over 41 games with the AHL’s Texas Stars last season.

Caamano made his NHL debut on Oct. 5th against the St. Louis Blues. He scored his first career NHL goal on Tuesday against the Washington Capitals.


Nicolas Hague, Vegas Golden Knights – Mississauga Steelheads – 2015-18
Big 6-foot-5 defenceman Nicolas Hague has broken into the NHL after being a second round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017.

Hague enjoyed a productive OHL career with the Mississauga Steelheads, setting a single season franchise record with 35 goals by a blueliner during the 2017-18 season as he earned OHL Defenceman of the Year honours. Also a former Bobby Smith Trophy recipient as OHL Scholastic Player of the Year, Hague helped the Steelheads win an Eastern Conference title in 2017. He recorded 32 points (13-19–32) over 75 games with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves last season, helping them reach the Calder Cup Final.

Hague made his NHL debut on Oct. 4th against the San Jose Sharks.

Dominik Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks – Sudbury/Kitchener – 2012-14
After five years of pro hockey in the Czech Republic and Switzerland, Dominik Kubalik has made his NHL debut.

The former Sudbury Wolves and Kitchener Rangers winger spent three seasons in the OHL before turning pro in his native Czech Republic. He’d been a seventh round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2013 NHL Draft and was acquired by the Blackhawks for a draft pick this past January. Last season, the 6-foot-2 left-winger recorded 57 points (25-32–57) over 50 games with the Swiss Elite League’s Ambri-Piotta squad.

Kubalik made his NHL debut on Oct. 4th against the Philadelphia Flyers, doing so before family and friends in his native Czech Republic.


Scott Sabourin, Ottawa Senators – Oshawa Generals – 2010-13
Big rough-and-tumble winger Scott Sabourin persevered through seven seasons in the American Hockey League to make his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators last week.

The 27-year-old native of Orleans, Ont. signed as an undrafted free agent with the Oshawa Generals back in 2009-10, developing to score 30 goals in his final OHL season in 2012-13. Sabourin earned himself a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Kings’ affiliate in Manchester, NH. He put up eight point (4-4–8) over 43 games with the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat, last season. He signed as a free agent with the Senators out of training camp.

Sabourin scored in his NHL debut on Oct. 2nd in Toronto.


Rasmus Sandin, Toronto Maple Leafs – Soo Greyhounds – 2018-19
Swedish blueliner Rasmus Sandin has made the jump to the NHL after one season in the American Hockey League.

Sandin played one season with the Soo Greyhounds in 2017-18, helping them win a Western Conference title before being selected with the 29th overall pick of the 2018 NHL Draft by Toronto. He impressed with 28 points (6-22–28) over 44 regular season games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies last year.

Sandin recorded his first career NHL point with an assist in his debut on Oct. 2nd against the Ottawa Senators.


Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens – Guelph/Owen Sound – 2015-19
2019 OHL Playoff MVP Nick Suzuki has made his highly anticipated NHL debut.

The 20-year-old from London, Ont. recorded 328 points (141-187–328) over his four-year OHL career between Owen Sound and Guelph, capping it all off with an OHL Championship last spring. The former 13th overall pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Draft was dealt to Montreal in a January 2019 deal that saw star Max Pacioretty go the other way.

Suzuki made his NHL debut on Oct. 3rd against the Carolina Hurricanes.


Conor Timmins, Colorado Avalanche – Soo Greyhounds – 2015-18
Former Soo Greyhounds defenceman Conor Timmins managed to make his NHL debut last week despite missing the entire 2018-19 season to injury.

Timmins, who battled injuries at various points of his OHL career, was a second round pick of Colorado in the 2017 NHL Draft. Originally a fourth round pick by the Hounds in 2014, Timmins developed into a solid two-way rearguard, posting 115 points (19-96–115) over 163 regular season games. He helped the Hounds win a Western Conference title in 2018.

Timmins made his NHL debut on Oct. 3rd against the Calgary Flames.


Carter Verhaeghe, Tampa Bay Lightning – Niagara IceDogs 2011-15
After leading the American Hockey League in scoring last year, Carter Verhaeghe earned himself an opportunity with the big club, making his NHL debut with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 24-year-old from Waterdown, Ont. won an Eastern Conference title with the IceDogs as a rookie in 2012, going on to produce 224 points (83-141–224) over 262 regular season games in Niagara. He was a third round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2013 before being dealt twice, landing with the New York Islanders before being acquired by Tampa Bay.

Verhaeghe made his NHL debut on Oct. 3rd against the Florida Panthers. He picked up his first NHL point with an assist on Oct. 5th against Florida.

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