was at Prudential Center in New Jersey in June of 2013, waiting to hear his name called in the NHL Draft. He waited, waited and waited some more before leaving without having been drafted.
He then attended a pair of development camps with the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, and later in the summer, the Canes inked Tolchinsky to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Now, Tolchinsky is set to make his NHL debut with the Hurricanes against the other NHL club he tried out with three years ago.
“I’m pretty excited to play against this team,” he said with a smile on his face after the Canes’ morning skate.
The dominant player storyline in tonight’s game is Eric Staal’s return to Raleigh after the trade that sent him to New York on Feb. 28. Somewhat quietly, the flashy Russian winger will become the seventh player and third forward to make his NHL debut with the Canes this season.
“I’m pretty happy about it,” Tolchinsky said. “It’s a dream come true.”
The 21-year-old, playing in his first full professional season, ranks fourth among Checkers skaters with 32 points (11g, 21a) in 65 games played. Tolchinsky tallied points (1g, 4a) in his first four games to begin the season but recorded just two assists in his next 17 games.
It was an unusually dry spell for Tolchinsky, who scored 30-plus goals and 90-plus points in each of his last two seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.
“I was really disappointed about that,” he said. “I didn’t really know what was happening or why it was happening. Coach helped me and my team helped me figure it out.”
Most recently, Tolchinsky skated on a line with Derek Ryan in Charlotte. Now, Tolchinsky is again on Ryan’s left wing in Carolina, with Patrick Brown opposite.
“I think it will help me a lot,” Tolchinsky said of his familiarity with his linemates. “I’m going to try to create offense as much as I can and still play a smart.”
“I expect him to make some plays, be dynamic, be noticeable and be responsible,” head coach Bill Peters said. “He’s played on a line in Charlotte with Derek Ryan, so there will be some chemistry and confidence amongst each other there.”
Any advice Tolchinsky has received in advance of puck drop tonight?
“Just to play my game, skate and try not to be nervous,” he said.
Maybe easier said than done.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email