After a strong preseason, 2015 second-round pick Jonas Siegenthaler will make his NHL debut Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Siegenthaler is receiving the opportunity after John Carlson had to bow out of the starting lineup due to a lower-body injury.
The fleet-footed Swiss defenseman is a year removed from his first full season in the AHL where he tallied six goals and six assists in 75 games.
“I dreamed about [this moment] all my life,” Siegenthaler continued. “I never felt this happy in my life. It’s something really special for me and I worked hard to get here. It’s so special, I can’t really describe it. It’s just a big step in my life and I’m pretty excited about it.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 9, 2018
Despite playing on some of the biggest stages in Europe in the past, Siegenthaler admitted he would have butterflies.
“You might not see that I’m going to nervous, but probably deep inside of me it’s heating up,” Siegenthaler said. “Just try to play my game. Like start simple, and as the game goes on, maybe if you get confidence you play (more aggressive).”
Siegenthaler was a key member of Switzerland’s World Junior teams in 2016 and 2017. He tallied one goal and five assists as a 19-year-old in the 2017 WJC. Prior to Hershey, Siegenthaler played for the NLA’s ZSC Lions, the same Swiss National League team that Auston Matthews played with during the 2015-16 season.
“I got the call yesterday and it was pretty exciting,” Siegenthaler said after the Capitals’ morning skate. “After I got called up I talked to my parents, my girlfriend, and my sister. Those are the first few people I told. Obviously my best friends back home. They’re pretty happy for me and I appreciate them.”
Siegenthaler made a strong impression during the preseason, particularly in the Caps’ Sept 25 game against St. Louis. Head coach Todd Reirden was impressed and called it the best game he’s seen Siegenthaler play, even including the games he’s watched of the young defenseman in Hershey.
“I came in with, just, better prepared than a couple years ago. I worked hard in the summer and I mean like that’s just what it means to play in this level,” Seigenthaler said. “It took me a little while to maybe get it. Last two years, I did big changes in body and my mind and everything.”
Siegenthaler made big changes to his diet over the past two years. Last preseason, he revealed he lost 24 pounds by cutting down on his mother’s Thai cooking and snacking on fruit instead of potato chips.
Siegenthaler says he feels prepared for his next big challenge: an NHL regular-season game.
“Yeah, I mean I was down in Hershey just trying to keep up my game, try to play the way I usually play,” Siegenthaler said. “If you play the right way down in Hershey and if you get called up, you should be ready if they throw you in the lineup. I feel pretty ready tonight.”
Elizabeth Kong also contributed to this article.
Headline photo: @Capitals
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