Tyler Kleven's NHL debut set for Thursday

The former UND and Fargo Davies defenseman will play for the Ottawa Senators against the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Fighting Hawks defenseman Tyler Kleven drops USA Under-18 forward Will Vote (22) to the ice at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks during the first period of an exhibition men's hockey game on Saturday, December 31, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Tyler Kleven is set to become UND's 110th NHL player.

Kleven will make his NHL debut Thursday night for the Ottawa Senators against the Philadelphia Flyers. The game will be held at 6 p.m. Central in Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.

"You dream of it growing up," Kleven said. "Now, it's turning into a little more of a reality. It hasn't really hit me yet. When I take my first step out there, it's going to be a very special moment for everyone who has helped me out."

Both of Kleven's parents are expected to be in attendance along with "some other close family," said Kleven, who played high school hockey at Fargo Davies.

Kleven signed with Ottawa last week after spending the last three years at UND.


Ottawa Senators coach D.J. Smith said his advice to Kleven will be to "have fun, play hockey, do what you do."

Kleven will be paired with Nick Holden.

"He's got raw talent, raw ability," Smith said of Kleven. "Yeah, it's a tall order to come in this situation, first NHL game, but the guys are going to help him through it. Sometimes, it's the best thing to just get thrown right in there.

"He's got to let his God-given talent take over."

Kleven will be playing with two of his former UND teammates in the game — Shane Pinto and Jake Sanderson.

"It's definitely a faster pace," Kleven said. "Everyone just snaps pucks around so fast. It's always on your tape. It's been good so far. I think I've transitioned smoothly so far. I'm excited to keep it going."

So far, five players who suited up in college hockey in 2022-23 have played in the NHL this season — Colorado College forward Hunter McKown (Columbus Blue Jackets), Minnesota Duluth defenseman Wyatt Kaiser (Chicago Blackhawks), Boston College forward Nikita Nesterenko (Anaheim Ducks), Harvard forward Sean Farrell (Montreal Canadiens) and Northeastern forward Aidan McDonough (Vancouver Canucks).

Kleven and Harvard defenseman Henry Thrun (San Jose Sharks) are expected to debut Thursday night. Harvard forward Matthew Coronato (Calgary Flames) and Northeastern goalie Devon Levi (Buffalo Sabres) also could soon debut.


Kleven will be just the second Fargo high school player to play in the NHL.

Danny Irmen, who played one year at Fargo North before transferring to Grand Forks Red River, suited up for two NHL games with the Minnesota Wild.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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