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Aaron Palushaj
Aaronpalushaj.png
Born September 7, 1989 (1989-09-07) (age 27)
Livonia, Michigan
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shoots Right
NHL team
Former teams
Carolina Hurricanes
Montreal Canadiens
Colorado Avalanche
National team Flag of the United States.svg United States
NHL Draft 44th overall, 2007
St. Louis Blues
Playing career 2009–present

Aaron Palushaj (born on September 7, 1989) is an American professional ice hockey right winger who currently plays for the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Playing CareerEdit

Aaron was drafted in the second round, 44th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues. He previously played junior hockey in the USHL with Des Moines Buccaneers before playing two-years of collegiate hockey with the University of Michigan in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

In his sophomore season in 2008–09 with the Wolverines, Aaron led the team and the CCHA with 50 points in 37 games to be named to the NCAA West First All-American Team. On April 3, 2009, he signed a three-year entry level contract with the Blues.

Assigned to AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen for his first professional season, Aaron was later traded by the Blues to the Montreal Canadiens for Matt D'Agostini on March 3, 2010. After attending the Canadiens training camp, Aaron was re-assigned to AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, to begin the 2010–11 season.

On March 17, 2011, Aaron was recalled and dressed for his first game with the Montreal Canadiens in a 3–2 shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. After three scoreless games with the Canadiens, he returned to the Bulldogs and recorded 19 points in as many playoff games in reaching the Western Conference finals.

With 31 points in two playoff seasons, Aaron became the Bulldogs franchise leading scorer in the post-season. During the following 2011–12 season, on the anniversary of his NHL debut and in his 32nd NHL game, Aaron scored his first NHL goal against the New York Islanders.

On July 12, 2012, Aaron was re-signed by the Canadiens to a one-year contract. With the 2012–13 NHL lockout in affect, he was signed to an AHL contract to enable him to play with in the AHL with the Bulldogs on September 26, 2012.

Aaron was leading the Bulldogs with 7 goals in 21 games before suffering a shoulder injury on December 11 against the Lake Erie Monsters. With the commencement of the shortened 2012–13 NHL season and cleared for a return, the Canadiens placed Aaron on waivers before he was claimed by the Colorado Avalanche on February 5, 2013.

On February 11, 2013, Aaron made his Avalanche debut in a 3-2 overtime defeat to the Phoenix Coyotes. Initially promoted to a scoring line, he scored his first goal for the Avalanche in his second game with the club in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild on February 14th.

After a career-high three point game against the Nashville Predators, Aaron had scored 4 points in his first 4 games. Over the course of the season, Palushaj was primarily used in a depth checking role, and in 25 games finished with 2 goals and 9 points.

Despite recording new career highs at the NHL level, Palushaj was not extended a qualifying offer by the Avalanche and was released as a free agent. On July 11, 2013, Aaron was signed to a one-year two-way contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.

International PlayEdit

Aaron made his international debut for the United States as a junior, when he was selected to compete at the 2009 World Junior Championships in Ottawa. He scored 2 goals and 5 points in 6 games before suffering defeat to Slovakia at the Quarterfinal stage.

At the completion of his 2012–13 season with the Avalanche, Aaron returned to the International stage as he was selected to the United States roster for the 2013 World Championships in Sweden/Finland.

Aaron made his national senior debut in the opening game of the Tournament, scoring a goal, in a 5–3 victory over Austria on May 4, 2013. Through 9 games, he scored a goal and an assist to help USA capture its first medal at the World Championships in claiming bronze since 2004.

Personal LifeEdit

Aaron grew up in Michigan. His father, Tom emigrated from Albania at the age of thirteen. He has two younger sisters, Monica & Julia, and one older sister, Jesika.

Aaron first played soccer as a child. After seeing posters of Steve Yzerman and the Russian Five in his first-grade classroom, he decided that he wanted to play hockey.

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2005–06 Des Moines Buccaneers USHL 58 10 23 33 53 11 2 4 6 15
2006–07 Des Moines Buccaneers USHL 56 22 45 67 62 8 6 5 11 6
2007–08 University of Michigan CCHA 43 10 34 44 22
2008–09 University of Michigan CCHA 39 13 37 50 26
2008–09 Peoria Rivermen AHL 4 2 0 2 4 4 0 1 1 2
2009–10 Peoria Rivermen AHL 44 5 17 22 22
2009–10 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 18 3 7 10 8 19 2 10 12 28
2010–11 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 68 22 35 57 42 19 7 12 19 14
2010–11 Montreal Canadiens NHL 3 0 0 0 2
2011–12 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 35 15 20 35 35
2011–12 Montreal Canadiens NHL 38 1 4 5 8
2012–13 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 21 7 3 10 18
2012–13 Colorado Avalanche NHL 25 2 7 9 8
NHL totals 66 3 11 14 18

International StatisticsEdit

Year Team Comp GP G A Pts PIM
2009 United States WJC 6 2 3 5 10
2013 United States WC 9 1 1 2 12
Junior int'l totals 6 2 3 5 10
Senior int'l totals 9 1 1 2 12

Awards & AchievementsEdit

Award Year
College
CCHA First All-Star Team 2009
NCCA West First All-American Team 2009

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