(Marc Smith/DiscoverMooseJaw) From Mosaic Place to Madison Square Garden.
Brett Howden makes the jump into the National Hockey League on Thursday night when the New York Rangers host the Nashville Predators to open the 2018-19 season.
“What better place to play your first game than in MSG, with all the historic events that have happened there, so it’s going to be pretty special and amazing and I’m going to cherish (the game),” said Howden ahead of his NHL debut.
At just 20 years old, Howden wasn’t a lock to crack the Rangers’ roster heading into training camp, but the former Moose Jaw Warriors captain put together a strong camp, which he finished off by scoring in the Rangers’ preseason finale last week.
Howden said everything has happened pretty quickly.
“It’s been a whirlwind, it was a long camp with a lot of hard work, but it’s really nice to see that hard work paying off,” said Howden. “Looking back, I didn’t know what to expect coming in and it’s pretty crazy that (Thursday) I’ll be making my NHL debut, so I’m just really thrilled and excited about this opportunity that I’ve been given.”
Howden was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the NHL Draft. He was traded to the Rangers as part of the Ryan McDonagh deal last season.
A lot of work went into this summer for Howden as he looked to move from the Western Hockey League to the Rangers after completing a four-year run with the Warriors last spring.
The Oakbank, MB product moved to the ‘Big Apple’ during the summer and trained with the Rangers to prepare of the opportunity in front of him.
“I had a really good summer working out and it was amazing the stuff that we got to do, we were working out with the NHL guys and skating with them, so it was a big step up and really worked out well for me, I made a lot of progression throughout the summer,” said Howden.
“I felt really confident in my body and in myself coming into camp, I felt like I had another level to me, getting physically stronger in the gym and translating that onto the ice, so I felt really confident.”
While his goal entering camp was to make the Rangers’ opening night roster, Howden said the real work begins now.
“It’s about trying to stay here and trying to be successful,” he said. “The first step is you want to crack the team, but now that I’ve done that, you want to look past that, you want to look what you can do to be better every single day and for me, I’m not settling just because I’ve made the opening-night roster, I want to keep pushing myself to keep being better and make sure that I can stay up here.”
Howden played four seasons with the Warriors, serving as the team’s captain over the past two seasons. He finished his WHL career with 109 goals and 267 points in 248 games, finishing fifth on the Warriors’ all-time scoring list.
Combined with his brother Quinton’s time with the Warriors, Howden has spent almost half his life around the Warriors. He said his time in Moose Jaw is a big part of his success.
“I pretty much grew up in Moose Jaw,” said Howden. “I developed so much there, I came in there as a kid and was just trying to learn the ways from guys like Brayden Point, and obviously Tim Hunter had a big impact on me too, so to see where I finished from where I started there, it’s pretty amazing to see the development that I’ve had, on and off the ice. Moose Jaw has really helped me grow up into who I am now.”
The Friendly City will be watching and cheering along for Howden throughout the season and into the future.
Howden and the Rangers battle the Predators on Thursday night at 5:30 p.m.