EDMONTON - The time has come for Martin Necas.
The 18-year-old forward will make his National Hockey League debut on Tuesday night when the Carolina Hurricanes take on the Edmonton Oilers.
"I'm looking forward to it. It will be fun," he said after the team's morning skate. "I'll enjoy the game and hopefully we get the win."
Necas will center a line that will feature wingers Elias Lindholm and Sebastian Aho. It's a trio that has potential to be dangerous offensively - exactly what a team that hasn't scored a 5-on-5 goal in two games is looking for.
"He's going to help us," head coach Bill Peters said. "He brings a lot of speed and skill, so I think he's going to have a positive impact in the lineup tonight."
"We have to play more around the net, play with the puck and score more goals," Necas said. "I hope that I help."
Lindholm, too, is excited about the potential in the line.
"It looks good. Both of them are super-skilled and super-fast, so for me it's just trying to keep up with those guys," he said. "It's three skilled guys, three offensive guys. As long as we have the puck, we'll be fine."
Video: Canes Close-Up: Martin Necas
Strangely enough, this won't be the first time Necas has skated on the ice at Rogers Place. He played in the Canes' preseason game in Edmonton just three weeks ago. While he didn't factor in on the scoresheet in the Canes' 6-2 win, he was flying around the ice all night.
"We played a good game here. I hope it will be the same game," he said. "It will be a good game. I hope that we play good and beat them."
"For him, it's just to go out there and play his game, just enjoy it and have fun. He's so skilled. He's got everything," Lindholm said. "He's just got to play the same way he did in the preseason, and he'll be fine."
In the two-plus weeks since the end of the preseason, Necas has been diligently working in practice, patiently awaiting his opportunity to draw into the lineup.
"We've had a few hard practices," he said. "I feel very good on the ice. I just want to play my game and help guys."
As a healthy extra in the first three games of the season, Necas also got to find out what it's like to work out on the ice with assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour after the formal conclusion of the morning skates.
"Yeah. You saw it? He's pretty good," Necas said. "You can see him every day at the gym. He's still a hard-worker. That's great for us to see that."
The Canes' 12th overall pick from this summer could still be sent back to HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Republic or the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League or even Charlotte, but there's still time to make that final decision. The Canes got an in-depth look at Necas in the preseason, and now they'll see how he stacks up against his peers when the emotions and play are elevated and the games count.
"We've talked lots. I'll probably leave him alone now for the rest of the day," Peters said. "We talked enough yesterday. He knows. He's excited."
It will be around 3 a.m. in the Czech Republic when the puck drops in Edmonton. But Necas' parents will be awake to watch, just as they have been all season, even when their son hasn't been in the lineup.
"They're excited," he said. "It will be a big day."