MONTREAL - Jacob de la Rose is set to play his first NHL game.
Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said the 19-year-old forward will see his first action on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
"It's a special year for him because he's playing in the AHL at 19, he played in the world juniors and now he'll get a chance to see what it's like in the NHL," said Therrien. "It's all part of his development."
De La Rose, one of the Canadiens' top prospects, had only 11 points in 37 games as an AHL rookie with Hamilton, but had five during the Bulldogs' current six-game wining streak.
There was initial speculation that de la Rose was called up as a replacement for centre Lars Eller, who injured his left leg during a 3-2 loss to Arizona on Sunday. But Eller was on the ice for a game-day skate Tuesday morning looking no worse for wear.
Therrien said de la Rose would play whether Eller was in or not.
"It's everyone's dream to play here one day," de la Rose said. "I just tried to work hard and take it from there. Now I've been called up and if I get a chance, I'll take it."
De la Rose, drafted 34th overall in 2013, opted to play in the AHL this season to get used to North American hockey rather than stay an extra year with the Leksands club in Sweden.
His season started slowly, but picked up after he served as captain of the Swedish squad at the world junior championship in Montreal and Toronto.
"I think I'm playing with more confidence," he said. "I had a good tournament.
"I came back with confidence. I tried to make more plays and create more scoring chances and it's paying off."
The six-foot-two 190-pounder is not expected to be a big scorer in the NHL. He is known mostly for his intelligence and strong defensive game. But he feels it is too early to be typecast.
"I just want to play an all around game," he said. "I know I can play good in both ends.
"I don't want to put myself in a pocket. I'm still developing my game, offensively and defensively. I'm just trying to play the best I can."
One of his Hamilton linemates, Gabriel Dumont, has been up with the Canadiens for a week. They skated together in practice with another rookie, Jiri Sekac, on the wing.
"He's a big guy with speed," Dumont said of de la Rose. "He's really, really proud of his defence and that gives him a lot of offensive opportunities. He's solid defensively and has good positioning, so he gets breaks."
Notes: P.A. Parenteau, who has missed 10 games with a concussion, skated on his own. ... It appeared that centre Manny Malhotra would sit out against Buffalo and that Sergei Gonchar would return on defence, replacing Mike Weaver.