The Notre Dame hockey program has six former Fighting Irish players on NHL rosters for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year.
The group consists of forwards Jake Evans (Montreal Canadiens), Anders Lee and Kyle Palmieri (New York Islanders), and Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh Penguins). Also included are defensemen Ian Cole (Minnesota Wild) and Dennis Gilbert (Colorado Avalanche).
Cole and Rust won the Stanley Cup together twice with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017. They will each compete for their third career Cup, while the other four players will seek their first Cup. Cole played for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Avalanche prior to joining the Wild. Rust has played his entire career with the Penguins, who made him a third-round pick in 2010.
Five of the six players are NHL regulars, while Gilbert is expected to be a Black Ace. The Chicago Steel alum skated in 17 AHL games and three NHL games for the Avalanche this season.
Lee, however, will not play as the Islanders captain continues to recover from a torn ACL.
Palmieri and Rust will play against each other in the first round in the East Division. Palmieri spent five-and-half seasons with the New Jersey Devils, who dealt the forward to the Islanders in April. Prior to New Jersey, he played for the Anaheim Ducks, who selected him in the first round in 2009.
Evans is in his first full season with the Canadiens, who made him a seventh-round pick in 2014. Gilbert is with his second NHL team after being traded by the Chicago Blackhawks to Colorado last October in the Brandon Saad deal. The Blackhawks selected him in the third round in 2015 after one season with the Steel.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs began on Saturday, with the first game being played between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.