By now, it's not exactly news that the New Jersey Devils have recalled forward Mike Sislo and defenseman Seth Helgeson from Albany under emergency conditions due to some recent injuries. My initial reaction was to be less than thrilled with these choices; we've seen what these guys have to bring at the NHL level and while Helgeson would be a solid bottom pair filler for a team heading towards the postseason, we can no longer descrive the Devils as a team heading towards the postseason.
Since the team is seemingly out of contention, barring a miracle, I would have liked to have seen the team get a bit more creative in terms of players brought up to fill in for the injured. Once I looked over Albany's roster however, I saw that maybe the team made the right decision after all. What do I mean by that? Let's take a look:
The Forward Slot
I know the Devils aren't one of the highest touted prospect pools currently by either our fans or by writers (we're currently ranked 29th out of 30 teams by Hockey's Future), but the fact that we're seeing the same call ups time and time again from Albany makes the situation all the more troubling. I looked over Albany's roster after seeing the decision to call up Sislo, and despite the fact that Mike hasn't shown much at the NHL level, there was not a name on that list that I would have called up over him!
With the season that Mike is having Albany (27-25-52 good for 4th in the entire AHL) I can see the logic behind the move. The problem here is that Mike has posted similar numbers in previous AHL seasons, though I'll be the first to admit his career highs in both goals and assists as well as his near point per game pace are impressive. As I said, I looked at Albany's roster, and the only other players who I would have preferred to have seen up with New Jersey were Reid Boucher and Joseph Blandisi who are both already here!
To be fair there would be one other guy I would like to see in action in New Jersey and that is Albany rookie Matt Lorito. The problem with that situation is that he is signed to only an AHL contract, not an NHL one! (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this) The Devils are also at their 50 contract limit as they recently signed Brown forward Nick Lappin to an NHL deal. The team has a lot of contracts coming off of the books for next season and with as he is Albany's second leading scorer (13-32-45 in 53 games played) behind Sislo, I expect an NHL deal to be offered to Lorito over the summer; it would be better use of a contract than say Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond!
I don't dislike the Helgeson call-up as much as the Sislo one, mainly because there are defenders currently playing in New Jersey that I shout at through the TV (looking at you Jo(h)ns) more often than I did Hulk during his first stint this season. While Helgeson had some trouble clearing the zone at times, I didn't really see any major gaffes in his work with the puck, and I honestly feel that he's a better option to be playing than some of the regulars.
At the same time, I think the Devils' brass realizes the window of their playoff chances this season is realistically closed. We know what we have in Hulk, so why not call up someone else to play a game or two? I would have loved to have seen Vojtech Mozik get an NHL chance, but right now he is injured, so that possibility doesn't exist. Raman Hrabarenka is someone else who has played some good games for Albany when I have been able to see them, though it does appear he has taken a step back this season. Why not let him play a game or two for Hynes to see if he will ever be anything for this team or if he's simply eating up a contract space?
Again, having Seth back up with New Jersey is not a bad move, just rather confusing as to why we wouldn't try out someone else such as Raman; maybe Mozik was in the cards if he wasn't hurt. Helgeson is someone who I feel could be a solid bottom pairing player for the team moving forward, especially if some other pieces are moved around for help in other areas.
The Albany Devils have been doing surprisingly well this season given the limited scoring talent they are working with; hmmm, that narrative sounds familiar! There may be some additions to their roster next season, both through free agency and players graduating from juniors. I feel that Albany is due for a bit of overhaul, and while young, talented players aren't a commodity that can be considered readily available, it is apparent that most of the personnel down in Albany will not be NHL regulars for New Jersey.
What do you think about the state of the Devils' prospects in Albany? What are your thoughts on the prospect pool in general? Do you like the Sislo/Helgeson recalls? Is there anyone else you would have rather seen? Do you agree or disagree that these were the only call-ups that would make sense? Leave any and all comments below and as always thank you for reading!