Former Notre Dame players on NHL rosters to begin 2021-22 season

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The puck has dropped on the 2021-22 NHL season, and the full 82-game schedule has returned. Besides the usual amount of hockey to look forward to once again, there also is a new team that has taken the ice. One player on that team played collegiate hockey at Notre Dame, as did nine other players who are starting the year on NHL rosters. That number could grow later this season with 15 other former Irish players starting play in the AHL, but for now, here are the 10 you can see at hockey’s top level at this moment:

Anders Bjork - Buffalo Sabres

May 8, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Anders Bjork (96) warms up against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Bjork is beginning his first full season in Buffalo after being traded from Boston last season. Last year was the first in which he he did not spend any time in the AHL. After the trade, he surpassed the points total he had with the Bruins and finished the season with 11 points overall.

Ian Cole - Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes Ian Cole (28) waits for a face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of an NHL pre season hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Cole, who will turn 33 in February, is on his fourth NHL team. He played two games with the Colorado Avalanche last season before being traded to the Minnesota Wild. His eight points in 54 games were the fewest in any NHL season in which he has played at least 50 games.

Jake Evans - Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens center Jake Evans (71) skates into position during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Evans enters his season full season and third overall with the team that was the runner-up for last year’s Stanley Cup championship. It was during that playoff run that Evans was injured by a big hit delivered right after he scored his first career playoff goal. This year, he will look to improve upon the 13 points he scored in the regular season.

Vinnie Hinostroza - Buffalo Sabres

A spotlight shines on Buffalo Sabres left wing Vinnie Hinostroza (29) after his goal during the third period of a NHL preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings in Buffalo, N.Y., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

Hinostroza is on his fourth NHL team after signing as a free agent. He began last year with the Florida Panthers before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, his second stint with that team. His stats across the board were the lowest since he first came into the league.

Anders Lee - New York Islanders

EAST MEADOW, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 23: Captain Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders takes part in practice at the Northwell Health Ice Center at Eisenhower Park on September 23, 2021 in East Meadow, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

This is Lee’s fourth season as the captain of the only team he’s ever known. He’ll look to make up for lost time after last season ended prematurely with a torn ACL. The injury forced him to miss the Islanders’ surprise run to the Stanley Cup semifinals.

Kyle Palmieri - New York Islanders

EAST MEADOW, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 23: Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders takes part in practice at the Northwell Health Ice Center at Eisenhower Park on September 23, 2021 in East Meadow, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Unlike Lee, Palmieri was able to participate in the Islanders’ playoff run after coming over in a trade with the New Jersey Devils, for whom he had been an alternate captain. He’ll look to improve upon his 21 regular-season points, a number that hadn’t been that low for him since the first season in which he spent most of his time in the NHL. He made up for it by scoring seven goals in the playoffs, including one in overtime.

Andrew Peeke - Columbus Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, OH – FEBRUARY 23: Andrew Peeke #2 of the Columbus Blue Jackets controls the puck during the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationwide Arena on February 23, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. Chicago defeated Columbus 6-5 in a shootout. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The former Irish captain is entering his third season with the Blue Jackets. There isn’t much to say about him as far as the NHL as he’s played only 18 career games. This will be a big season for Peeke, who turns 24 in March.

Cal Petersen - Los Angeles Kings

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen stops a shot by the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Another former Irish captain, Petersen is the only former Irish goaltender to begin this season in the NHL. In addition to entering his fourth season with the Kings, Petersen is coming off a stint as the starting goaltender for the U.S. in the world championships, during which it won the bronze. That kind of experience only can help him.

Bryan Rust - Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Rust has begun his eighth NHL season, all of which have come with the Penguins. He has scored at least 20 goals in back-to-back seasons and played in at least 55 games five years in a row. He easily is one of the Penguins’ most reliable players.

Riley Sheahan - Seattle Kraken

CALGARY, AB – SEPTEMBER 9: Riley Sheahan #15 of the Seattle Kraken in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on September 9, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Sheahan had played for five NHL teams by the end of last season, and now, he can add the expansion Kraken as his sixth team. Sheahan signed with the Kraken as a free agent after one year with the Sabres. His numbers have steadily declined over the past three years, so maybe a fresh start with this new franchise will help.

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