Brock McGinn made it look easy. NHL debut, first shift, second shot. Goal.
No pressure, right Phil Di Giuseppe?
“Yeah, first shift. That’d be nice,” he chuckled.
Di Giuseppe will be the fifth player and second forward after McGinn to make his NHL debut for the Hurricanes this season in what is becoming a familiar tale with an infusion of talented youth in the organization.
Di Giuseppe was one of three players recalled from Charlotte Friday evening. Though they drove separately, he was joined by McGinn and defenseman Jaccob Slavin, while defenseman Ryan Murphy was reassigned to the Checkers. It’s the first NHL recall for Di Giuseppe, who was among the last players to be assigned to the American League following Hurricanes training camp.
“I had a good summer, I think, and I worked hard to get here,” he said. “Now I’m here, so I’ll try to prove something.”
The 22-year-old forward, who is in his second full professional season, ranks second among Charlotte skaters in scoring this season with 14 points (6g, 8a) in 20 games. Tonight, he’ll skate on the right wing with linemates Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask, a trio that could potentially be dangerous offensively.
“Speed, taking pucks to the net. When I’m playing my best, I’m rubbing the body out there,” Di Giuseppe said in describing his game. “I’m just coming in, trying to play my game and help the team out.”
“Phil’s been very good and consistent all year,” Peters said, noting that all three recalls had earned the opportunity.
An Ontario native, Di Giuseppe played college hockey at the University of Michigan, totaling 78 points (33g, 45a) in 115 games with the Wolverines. The 2014-15 campaign marked his first full professional season, and he earned 30 points (11g, 19a) in 76 games. Just over a quarter of the way through this season, he already nearly has twice the point total from a year ago.
“Confidence mixed with some experience,” he said of the difference-maker. “It’s just made it a little bit easier.”
Some of that confidence likely stems from his showing at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., and his strong effort in the preseason, which did not go unnoticed.
“When I went down [after training camp], I had a little chip on my shoulder to try and get back up here and prove that I belong here,” Di Giuseppe said.
Di Giuseppe said he received news of the call-up before the Checkers practiced Friday. After the skate, he called his dad and then his mom to relay the good news. He expects that they will both be in attendance tonight.
And though he’s Ontario-born and wasn’t a Canadiens fan as a kid, Di Giuseppe gets to face off against one of the most storied hockey franchises in NHL history in his debut, surely something he’ll never forget.
“I just want to show them that I think I’m ready and that I belong here,” he said.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email