Less than a week after signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning, D Andrej Sustr made his NHL debut Friday.

New Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper opted to dress seven defensemen — a strategy he said he likes to employ — which allowed Sustr to dress as the extra defenseman against the New Jersey Devils.

Sustr, who was signed as a free agent out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha last weekend, arrived in Tampa on Monday and skated with the team for the first time on Tuesday during the morning skate. He was in the full practice with the rest of the team on Thursday. The 6-foot-8, 200-pound native of the Czech Republic took warmups without knowing for sure if he would be in the lineup, but he felt like he was ready to go whenever he was called upon.

“Obviously, everything is a little bit faster and guys are more skilled (at the NHL level), but I think I've done pretty well for myself,'' Sustr said. “It's been amazing, and things are definitely different from college in how we are treated and stuff. And everybody here has just been really great with me and I'm just really happy to be here. It's been a dream come true and I'm enjoying every minute of it''

Cooper, who was making his NHL debut as well, remembers seeing Sustr during their time in the United States Hockey League, and he was impressed to see how much Sustr had developed when he saw the big defenseman at last summer's Lightning prospect camp.