COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cole Bardreau showed up for Saturday’s morning skate in Bridgeport, Connecticut, thinking he would play in that night’s home-opener for the Islanders’ AHL affiliate.
Instead, at age 26, he finally made his long-awaited NHL debut.
Leo Komarov, filling in as the fourth-line center with Casey Cizikas (left foot) on injured reserve, participated in the Islanders’ morning skate but is day to day with an illness.
The Islanders placed right Jordan Eberle on IR retroactive to Oct. 12 to open a roster spot for Bardreau, who arrived in Columbus about 90 minutes before game time against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
Bardreau took the traditional solo rookie lap during warmups before stepping on the ice for his first NHL shift at 2:23 of the first period, centering left wing Matt Martin — a healthy scratch the last three games — and Cal Clutterbuck.
The undrafted free agent from Fairport, New York, spent the previous five seasons in the Flyers’ organization and has 41 goals and 57 assists in 230 career AHL games. He was on the cusp of a call-up from the Flyers a handful of times only to be derailed by injuries.
But his most serious injury came as a sophomore at Cornell in 2013, when he broke a vertebra in his neck in two spots during a game at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, though he finished that game before the severity of his injury was discovered two days later.
Bardreau’s NHL opportunity might not have come if Bridgeport wasn’t already missing centers Tanner Fritz (personal) and Otto Koivula (upper body).
Left wing Ross Johnston, who did not log a shift in the third period of Thursday night’s 3-1 win at Winnipeg, was a healthy scratch…Rookie defenseman Noah Dobson was a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game.
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