FARMERS BRANCH, Tex. — Semyon Der-Arguchintsev can stop holding his breath.
The 22-year-old forward will make his National Hockey League debut on Tuesday when the Maple Leafs clash with the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.
“It feels unreal,” Der-Arguchintsev said on Monday. “I’ve been waiting for it my whole life, so it’s just an incredible feeling. I can’t even explain how happy I am.”
Officially recalled from the Toronto Marlies on Sunday, Der-Arguchintsev was told by Marlies coach Greg Moore following the team’s game on Saturday that he was being summoned by the Leafs.
While Der-Arguchintsev has 18 points in 20 games with the Marlies, it was a rounding-out of his game that drew the Leafs’ attention.
“All the reports with the Marlies have been glowing of Semmy’s play, in particular his play away from the puck and his work habits and competitiveness,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “They are the things we’ve been asking him to do for quite some time. He has delivered on that.”
Der-Arguchintsev will wear No. 85 with the Leafs.
“That was my goal to get called up this year,” Der-Arguchintsev said. “I worked hard on the defensive side of the puck. I started doing all those things. I’ve got to continue to do it and get better at it especially at this level, if I want to be here.”
Der-Arguchintsev practiced on Monday on the right side on a line with center Pontus Holmberg and winger Zach Aston-Reese. Coming out of the lineup will be veteran Wayne Simmonds, who played in Tampa against the Lightning on Saturday. Denis Malgin will be a healthy scratch for the third game in a row.
There’s going to be more responsibility for Der-Arguchintsev than just fourth-line duty.
Keefe has revamped his second power-play unit. Der-Arguchintsev and defenseman Conor Timmins, who will make his Leafs debut on Tuesday, will be part of the unit with Nick Robertson, Michael Bunting and Pierre Engvall.
“It’s trying to get them involved, give them an opportunity to show what they can do,” Keefe said of Der-Arguchintsev and Timmins. “Both of those guys have had success at different levels playing on the power play and that’s part of who they are. Our second unit has not produced a lot, hasn’t necessarily clicked or found its real identity.”
Keefe noted the differences in what Der-Arguchintsev potentially can bring to the NHL.
“He’s certainly not the traditional hockey player that you encounter,” Keefe said. “He has a unique skill set, plays the game a unique way. That’s part of his growth, is to find that balance of using the skill and the type of slower, more methodical game that he plays, but also being able to play and compete in the high-paced, physical, competitive game that is the NHL and the AHL for that matter.
“He’s a versatile guy who can do a lot of good things under pressure that allow him to play against bigger, stronger guys. He has been able to do that well in pre-season hockey, and he has followed it up with a good start to the AHL season.”
It wasn’t lost on the 5-foot-10, 173-pound Der-Arguchintsev that he will make his NHL debut in the building he was drafted in. In 2018, the Leafs picked him 76th overall in Dallas.
“I was thinking about that too,” Der-Arguchintsev said. “But it doesn’t matter where — it’s just cool that I’m going to play. I’ve been waiting for it for so long, it’s just incredible.”
TIMMINS ON TAP
Timmins had to wait a couple of weeks to play for the Leafs after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes, but wasn’t complaining.
“Make the plays that are in front of you, defend hard, do the little things that can help the team win,” Timmins said of his plans for his first game in a Toronto uniform. “Just keeping it simple.”
Timmins, wearing no. 25, will be paired with Victor Mete.
“He’s had some practice time with us and we thought it made sense (to get him in),” Keefe said. “He’s putting a lot of work in with our development team. The timing is right. (TJ) Brodie’s return is not too far away, so it’s going to be harder to get (others such as Timmins) in.”
Auston Matthews on Der-Arguchintsev: “He’s a little ball of energy out there. You can see that he’s not afraid to make plays.” … The full Leafs team attended the Dallas Cowboys’ home game on Sunday night, which became a 54-19 romp at the expense of the Indianapolis Colts. “The absolute stomp-down the Cowboys put on, that was fun,” Matthews said. “Most of us had never been to (AT&T Stadium) before. It’s quite the spectacle and we all had a really good time.” … There was some tough news for a couple of Leafs prospects who had hopes of playing at the 2023 world junior championship in Halifax and Moncton this month. Despite leading the Ontario Hockey League in scoring with 48 points for the Sarnia Sting, Ty Voit did not get an invitation to the United States’ selection camp. And Fraser Minten, who suffered a wrist injury in Leafs camp that delayed the start of his season, did not get invited to Canada’s selection camp. Minten has 22 points in 16 games for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League.