'Pretty special': When 2 players from P.E.I. joined the NHL ranks this season, the 2 others took notice
4 players from P.E.I. were in the NHL at the same time this season
Less than two weeks after he was called up to the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, Charlottetown's Josh Currie was getting ready for a game when a team trainer tapped him on the shoulder.
Someone on the opposing team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, wanted to speak with him.
It was a familiar face — Adam McQuaid of Cornwall. McQuaid, a 10-year veteran, had heard a fellow Islander had joined the NHL ranks. Congratulations were in order.
"For a guy like Adam McQuaid just to kind of reach out and talk to me and just congratulate me on being called up, that was that was really cool and I thought that was nice of him," Currie said.
A month earlier, only two players from P.E.I. — McQuaid and Ross Johnston of the New York Islanders — were on NHL rosters. Now, suddenly, there were four.
Zack MacEwen of Stratford was called up to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 11, just eight days before Currie made his debut with the Oilers.
34 Islanders since 1921
According to the hockey database Quanthockey.com, 34 players from P.E.I. have played at least one game in the NHL since 1921. But it's uncommon to have as many as four up at once.
"For all four of us to be in the NHL at the same time was pretty cool and I think just pretty special for P.E.I.," Currie said. "There's not too many Islanders in the NHL so it was pretty cool to be one of them."
Coming from a small place like P.E.I., the four all know each other to varying degrees. Like McQuaid, Johnston also reached out to Currie when the New York Islanders were playing in Edmonton. Currie, Johnston and MacEwen train together in the summer on P.E.I.
Currie and MacEwen are golfing buddies.
We definitely keep in touch throughout the year and we keep an eye on each other.— Zack MacEwen
MacEwen said it's nice to see them all having success.
"We talk amongst ourselves and I talked to Josh when he got his call. And Ross is always messaging me saying congrats and stuff like that too, so we definitely keep in touch throughout the year and we keep an eye on each other," he said.
"And, you know, I wish them continued success and hopefully they can keep progressing."
MacEwen is currently playing for the Utica Comets, Vancouver's American Hockey League affiliate. Their final game of the season is on Sunday. He said he is happy with the way he played in his four games with Vancouver before being sent back down to Utica.
"I got that experience and things that I can do to round off my game and just build on to go into the next season and hopefully get a more permanent spot with the Canucks," he said.
"It was just a really fun experience. And it gave me a taste to kind of get back there."
Stratford's Zack MacEwen says he hopes to build on his <a href="https://twitter.com/NHL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHL</a> experience next year. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PEI?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PEI</a> <a href="https://t.co/EhUOXUxUAa">pic.twitter.com/EhUOXUxUAa</a>—@ShaneRoss500
Currie, 26, is back in California with the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL team he's been with for the past five seasons. After 21 games with the Oilers, who missed the NHL playoffs, Currie was sent to the Condors on April 6 to help lead their playoff drive.
And that was fine by him.
"It's my sixth season playing professional and this is the first time that I'm going to be in the playoffs so I was excited to be back and I'm just kind of looking forward to this little run we're going to try to go on here in Bakersfield."
Stanley Cup predictions
The other two P.E.I. players are in the NHL playoffs, but have yet to see any ice time.
Johnston's Islanders are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. After playing 24 games in the NHL in 2017-18, the 25-year-old Charlottetown native began this season with the Islanders but has only played in 17 games, and none since March 7.
McQuaid's Blue Jackets are playing the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 32-year-old defenceman was acquired from the New York Rangers in December to bolster the Blue Jackets' playoff run, but he has been out since March 28 with a head injury.
Currie and MacEwen will be keeping an eye on their P.E.I. friends during the NHL playoffs, as usual.
But, sorry, they won't be betting on their teams.
When asked who they thought would win the Stanley Cup this year, Currie picked the San Jose Sharks and MacEwen predicted the Lightning.