Thursday night, Laurent Brossoit made his NHL debut between the pipes for the Edmonton Oilers. By the end of the evening, Brossoit was trotted out as the game’s first star after turning aside 49 of the 51 shots he faced.
Brossoit’s 49 stops made him the first goaltender since Manny Legace in 1998 to turn aside that much rubber in his debut. Even with his miraculous performance, the Oilers failed to take home the victory and were downed 3-1 by the San Jose Sharks.
Scoring the game-winning goal for the Sharks was Bryan Lerg, who, at 29, was also playing his first game in the big league. Lerg had bounced around the AHL for seven seasons heading into Thursday’s game, but he made the most of his first shot at NHL action, scoring with 2:52 remaining in the third period to lift the Sharks to victory.
Excluding Brossoit’s incredible first outing, here are the five best debuts of 2014-15:
5. Josh Jooris, Oct. 17
While much of the focus has been on the play of rookie sensation Johnny Gaudreau, not to mention the mind-boggling playoff push by the Flames, Calgary also relied on contributions from Jooris.
Thing is, however, Jooris didn’t get to start his season in the NHL, he only made it up once the first week was through and after suiting up for two games for the AHL’s Adirondack Flames. When he got the call, though, he made the most of his opportunity.
In 15:29 of ice time, Jooris fired three pucks on goal and found the back of the net with one of them. It was a sign of good things to come, as Jooris has gone on to bury 12 goals and notch 24 points in 59 games.
4. Adam Clendening, Nov. 20
The Chicago Blackhawks’ lineup is notoriously hard to crack, which makes the fact that Clendening not only did so but also managed to find his way onto the second power play unit as a 22-year-old defenseman even more impressive. In late November, Clendening got his shot when the Blackhawks rolled into Calgary to take on the Flames.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville didn’t give Clendening much time to get acclimated to the NHL, however. He skated less than 11 minutes in his debut, but that didn’t stop him from blasting home a rocket of a slapshot on the power play.
The goal came just four minutes into the contest and was on Clendening’s second shift in the NHL. Not a bad start. Two months after his debut, the Blackhawks sent Clendening to the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Gustav Forsling.
3. Andrew Hammond, Feb. 18
While it wasn’t his real debut – that actually came when he got 20:46 of game time on Feb. 16 – Hammond’s first full game in the league is easy to forget about because of what he has accomplished since. It’s hard to sleep on a 42-save victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
Hammond faced his biggest tests from Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, who fired seven and eight shots on goal, respectively. Alex Galchenyuk also got in on the action, putting five pucks on net, but Hammond was equal to that task, too.
Since the victory, Hammond has continued his winning ways and is largely the reason why the Senators are vying for a playoff berth with one game remaining on the schedule.
2. Andre Burakovsky, Oct. 9
A first-round pick of the Washington Capitals, 23rd overall, Burakovsky didn’t waste much time breaking into the NHL or getting on the board.
In the first period of his first game of professional hockey, Burakovsky absolutely blasted a pass from Troy Brouwer. The total time between the beginning of his pro career and first goal? 6:43.
Since the quick start, it’s been a bit of a rocky first season for Burakovsky. He has been demoted to the AHL a few times, including a nearly month-long stint from March 15 to April 5. He’s also been in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch, sitting 15 games under coach Barry Trotz.
1. Troy Grosenick, Nov. 16
It’s hard to beat a 45-save shutout when it comes to best debut of the season, which is exactly what Grosenick turned out in the mid-November contest against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Grosenick’s outstanding performance set the modern day record for most saves by a goaltender in a shutout debut. The previous record, held by Andre Gill, was set in December 1967, but Gill went on to play just five games in the NHL.
After the shutout victory, Grosenick got the call again two nights later against the Buffalo Sabres, but allowed three goals on 13 shots. One week later, Grosenick suffered an upper body injury, was sidelined for two weeks and then sent back to the AHL’s Worcester Sharks.