An extremely busy day for the Devils has led new faces to have their first shot at sticking with the NHL team this season. With the injuries in New Jersey, the Devils have called up many players from Albany to hopefully provide the offense the team is sorely lacking the last few games.
With the NHL club, the team has placed Tuomo Ruutu on Injured Reserve with a lower body injury. Ruutu, who has failed to produce a single point since coming back from an injury just a few weeks ago, will return to IR retroactive to January 6th. While playing with the team, Ruutu has struggled to produce offensively and has played largely on the struggling second and third lines.
In another move involving players on the NHL team, the Devils also sent Mike Sislo back to Albany. Although short of NHL talent with the amassing injuries, the Devils opted to send Sislo back in favor of two more AHL players. While surprising to some, this move makes sense. Sislo has failed to produce points in 4 games playing with Sergey Kalinin and Stefan Matteau. While certainly not bad by any means, Sislo has not done enough to remain in the lineup for Hynes. Sislo will return to Albany as the second leading scorer and will likely return to his spot on the top line.
With Ruutu going to IR, Tyler Kennedy's injury in warm ups and Sislo returning to Albany, the Devils also made two call-ups from their AHL club. First, the Devils recalled forward Paul Thompson, who has 7 goals and 9 assists on the season, good for 6th on the team. Calling up Thompson is less than surprising. Thompson spent four years in Wilkes-Barrie Scranton in the AHL under John Hynes, thus havingthe advantage of familiarity with the system, he would fit in the lineup easily. In his 295 AHL games, Thompson has amassed 143 points, with 79 goals and 64 assists. Thompson will likely play in a similar role as Mike Sislo slotting in on the 3rd line. At 27, this will be Thompson's first shot at the NHL team after signing an NHL contract this summer.
The second forward called up by New Jersey is Jim O'Brien. Signed in the off-season by Ray Shero, O'Brien has performed admirably for the Albany Devils, totaling 12 points in 17 games. O'Brien, the 29th overall pick in the 2007 draft, will make his NHL season debut, previously appearing in 63 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators, he scored 8 goals and totaled 4 assists. The Devils will look to O'Brien to help the struggling offense.
The final call-up to take the spot of injured defenseman John Moore is Marc-Andre Gragnani. Moore, who was injured after blocking a shot against Montreal, will be remain out of the lineup in favor of Gragnani until healthy. Gragnani, another off-season signing will get his first shot at NHL action this season. An gifted offensive defenseman, he will be looked upon to provide offense from the back-end as he has done in the AHL this season where he leads the defense in points. Spending the year prior to this abroad, in the Switzerland's top league, the NLA, Gragnini put up 37 points in 49 games with SC Bern. He will likely assume a role similar to Moore, with power play time and will be put in offensive situations to succeed.
With the call-ups from Albany Devils fans will see many new faces to the organization. Which players are you most excited to see? Will any of the new forwards provide more offense than Sislo and Ruutu? Will any of them stick with the team for the remainder of the season? Let us know your thoughts and as always, thank you for reading!