New Jersey Devils defenseman Anssi Salmela to make NHL debut on Friday night

New Jersey Devils blueliner Anssi Salmela will be paired with Colin White when he makes his NHL debut on Friday night at the Rock versus the New York Islanders. Salmela made the team out of training camp, which even he was not expecting to do. However, Salmela impressed head coach Brent Sutter so much, that he Sutter was left with no choice. “If we thought he wasn’t capable of playing here regularly, development would be the right thing for him because it’s his first year over here,” Sutter said. Every day he’s gotten better. He’s adjusted to a lot of things here very quickly.”

The Newark Star-Ledger’s Devils beat writer, Rich Chere provides some interesting information regarding Salmela’s debut.

Anssi Salmela ready to reach the Finnish line

by Rich Chere

Tuesday October 07, 2008, 9:32 AM

Jukka Porvari was the first. Anssi Salmela is poised to be the latest.

When Salmela makes his Devils debut as early as Friday night against the Islanders, he will become the 10th Finnish-born player in Devils history. Porvari made his debut on April 14, 1982, against the Montreal Canadiens. That was the fifth game in Devils history and was played in the Meadowlands.

Tapio Levo, who played more games for the Devils that 1982-83 season, made his debut Oct. 16 in Pittsburgh. Both Porvari and Levo had played for the Colorado Rockies the previous season.

Here’s a closer look at the Devils and their Finnish-born players:

Tim Blomqvist (20 games 1986-87) no goals, two assists

Hannu Kamppuri (13 games 1984-85) goalie was 0-1-1

Tapio Levo (73 games 1982-83) seven goals, 40 assists

Olli Malmivaara (two games 2007-08) no points

Janne Ojanen (98 games 1988-89 to 1992-93) 21 goals, 23 assists

Tuomas Pihlman (15 games 2003-04 to 2006-07) one goal, one assist

Jukka Porvari (eight games 1982-83) one goal, three assists

Reijo Ruotsalainen (31 games 1989-90) two goals, five assists

Esa Tikkanen (nine games 1995-96) no goals, two assists

The information was provided by Devils senior VP of communications Mike Levine.