PHILADELPHIA — Jon Matsumoto couldn't have scripted it any better.
Matsumoto will be making his NHL debut tonight for the Carolina Hurricanes, and making it in the Wells Fargo Center, against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"I always wanted, and always thought my first (NHL) game would be in this building," he said after today's morning skate at the arena. "Turns out it will be."
Matsumoto, 24, once thought it would be in a Flyers uniform. He was drafted by Philadelphia in 2006. For parts of four seasons, he played for the Phantoms, the Flyers' AHL team, in Philadelphia and then Adirondack.
In the 2008-2009 season, the former Bowling Green player had 29 goals. Last season he had a team-high 30. But there was never a callup to the big team.
The Flyers then all but gave him away. During the NHL Entry Draft in June, they traded him to the Canes for a seventh-round draft pick.
Now, he'll get his shot at them. He'll be the Canes' fourth-line center on a line with Tom Kostopoulos and Jiri Tlusty as coach Paul Maurice elected to make Patrick O'Sullivan a scratch tonight.
How special will it be?
"I don't know," Matsumoto said, smiling. "We'll see tonight. It won't mean a lot if we lose. It we win it will be pretty nice."
Matsumoto had a pretty good training camp with the Canes but was assigned to the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). In 10 games with the Checkers, he has three goals and six assists (9 points).
Matsumoto said his parents, who live in Ottawa, were in Binghamton, N.Y., for the Checkers game this weekend when the call came from the Canes. He quickly hopped a plane to Philly on Sunday.
"I like bringing these guys up," Maurice said today. "We've got a bunch of them. So we'll throw 'em right in and play them.
"There will always be oipportunities for those guys on the fourth line to move up if they get it going. They have to bring as much energy as they can. That's their goal."
That's what Matsumoto plans to do tonight. And, he said, heed the advice of Maurice about NHL debuts.
"He said to enjoy it," Matsumoto said. "He said that was the important thing: Just enjoy it and soak it up."
Matsumoto smiled again, adding, "That's probably his generic speech, but that's what I want to do."