Thursday night, Andrew Peeke made his NHL debut in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers. Though his stat line did not excite (finishing with 0's in nearly every category, but registering one shot on goal) the debut should provide Blue Jacket followers with, at least a little, excitement.
Since his selection in the second round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Andrew Peeke has provided intrigue for Columbus pundits. The 6' 3" right-shot defenseman had successful career at Notre Dame, posting 12 goals and 40 assists in 119 games over three seasons for the NCAA's Fighting Irish. In 2017, he also earned honorsby being selected to his conference's all-rookie team.
He also represented the United States in the 2018 World Junior Championships, registering 1 goal and 1 assist in 7 games.
While his NCAA and World Junior numbers may not excite, Peeke can be seen as more of a new-aged "stay-at-home" defenseman, mobile enough to survive in the fast-paced action of hockey today, but stout enough to provide a strong defensive back-end. Scoring may not be his primary objective and that is okay.
And so far this season, his rise in the Blue Jackets' organization has shown they believe he can be a factor in the NHL. He is putting up the numbers in the AHL and that is putting him ahead of schedule.
Reporting to AHL Cleveland this October, Peeke impressed, spending most of his time on the team's second-pair. While playing for the Monsters, Peeke has recorded five goals and seven assists for a total of 12 points in 21 games. One can see in this stat line that Peeke has demonstrated even more offensive-prowess than at Notre Dame, scoring at a higher pace than in his NCAA career. It is that type of performance that earned him a promotion to the NHL club and a pathway to staying longer as well.
When word was announced that Zach Werenski was injured and would be away from the team for four weeks, Peeke was the first defenseman called-up. While he may not have had a tremendous impact on Thursday's game, his NHL debut, it is hopeful to see the organization place confidence in a young player, let along a young defenseman.
Werenski's injury will provide an opportunity for several defenseman to stake a claim for NHL ice-time. Peeke will, no doubt, look at this occasion as a chance to further his already rising status in the Columbus Blue Jackets' organization. If he continues to perform like he did against the Rangers, he won't give them much of a choice.
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