The Devils’ defensive rookies will have something to play for tonight as they meet the New York Islanders in preseason action at The Prudential Center.
The news today that Bryce Salvador will be out indefinitely with a concussion frees up a spot on the roster, and with two games remaining, each rookie defenseman will get an opportunity to fill the position.
During practice today, Devils’ coach John MacLean said he wouldn’t hesitate to slot a rookie into the lineup.
“There’s definitely a possibility,” MacLean said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “There’s two games left here to make some decisions on that and a couple of days to see.”
Matt Taormina, Alexander Urbom and Matt Corrente will all play tonight, getting the chance to audition for the open spot.
Taormina, an undrafted rookie out of Providence College, has arguably had the best preseason so far. He’s scored a goal and collected an assist, has a rating of plus-2, and averages 17:40 of ice time.
If Taormina is number one, then Urbom is a very close second. He’s recorded two assists, has a rating of plus-3, and averages 20:43 of ice time, a full three minutes more than Taormina.
Corrente, who has NHL experience, hasn’t played much this preseason. Despite the limited playing time, MacLean believes Corrente can contribute.
“Matt’s played a couple of good games and as we keep going through the process here, we’re going to keep getting looks at him,” MacLean said to Gulitti. “Tonight is another look we’re going to get at him. It’s still an evaluation process. Matty has played fine. We’ve still got a lot of time here, so we’re going to keep evaluating.”
Coming in to test that defense will be the Islanders, who opened their preseason with split-squad games Wednesday. One squad hosted the Calgary Flames, dropping a 3-2 decision. The other squad traveled to Philadelphia, where they lost, 3-1.
This game will be the first of a home-and-home series between the two teams. The Devils wrap up their preseason schedule tomorrow against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
A former Devil will suit up for the Islanders tonight. Dean McAmmond, who the Islanders brought to camp on a tryout contract, will play on the fourth line.
Ex-Devil Mike Mottau, who signed a two-year deal with the Islanders on September 28, will not travel with the team.