Seth Helgeson rolled into Times Union Center just after the Albany Devils finished their Tuesday practice. The defenseman was returned on loan from New Jersey on the same day left winger Joe Whitney was summoned to the NHL.
Helgeson has been with the parent club since Nov. 11 and logged 21 games, producing a pair of assists and a +2 rating.
“When I was up there I wasn’t taking anything for granted, I knew I was a call up, and I needed to learn along the way,” Helgeson said. “I think I did that well and now I’m just here trying to do whatever I can for the team to succeed.”
In the AHL this season, Helgeson has played 12 games, registering an assist and a +11 rating. In 91 career games, he has a goal, 10 assists and a +17 showing.
“We know what he is all about,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “I am happy to see what he has done this year. Obviously, he hasn’t played a lot in the last couple of weeks and I think it’s good that he is able to come down here and be a big part of our team.”
While Helgeson adds to Albany’s blueline, Joe Whitney’s departure leaves a hole on the top line. During Tuesday’s practice, Reid Boucher was slotted in Whitney’s spot alongside Kelly Zajac and Paul Thompson.
Whitney has played two games with New Jersey already this season and netted his first career NHL goal on Dec. 31.
“Losing Whitney is tough, but on the other side of it, we are very happy for him and hopefully he gets a good chance,” Kowalsky said. “I give him credit and I use him as an example. He goes up and does a pretty good job and scores his first goal. Then he is sent down and comes down here and picks up right where he left off. This is what we want to see”
Raman Hrabarenka, who has been out of the lineup since Nov. 29 with an upper-body injury, may be available this weekend.
“Raman is a possibility this weekend,” Kowalsky said. “He has been cleared. If we like what we see in this short week with not a lot of practice time; where he is battling. If we feel he is ready we could get him in, but realistically more next week and that remains to be seen. ”
The 22-year-old ranks second among Devils defensemen with 14 points (4g-10a) despite only playing 20 games.
The Devils hit the halfway point of the season Wednesday when they host the Springfield Falcons at Times Union Center at 7 pm. Albany is coming off a 1-2-0-0 weekend that included a 4-0 loss against the Hershey Bears Friday, a 3-1 win against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Saturday and a 2-1 setback at Springfield Sunday.
Despite the result of the three games in three days, Kowalsky thought the team got better as the weekend progressed.
“I told the guys today that I thought we improved every game over the weekend. Even though you get the results Saturday and not Sunday, we actually, from start to finish, played a better game.”
Following Saturday’s win, the Devils ran into some tough luck against the Falcons. Albany owned a 31-24 shot advantage, but couldn’t find the equalizer late in the game. They will have their chance for redemption against the Eastern Conference’s top team this week. This season, the Devils are 2-1-0-0 against the Falcons.