ALBANY, NY – Before every practice there is a group of Devils players who do not have to worry about what color jersey to wear — always in black. Despite it being a slimming color, the defensemen who don the black sweater are still giants on skates.
Of the nine defensemen in Albany, not one is shorter than six foot. Seth Helgeson, Corbin McPherson and Harry Young are 6′ 5″ and Eric Gelinas, Raman Hrabarenka and Jon Merrill are 6′ 4″. Round out the group are Dan Kelly and Reece Scarlett at 6′ 1″ and Brandon Burlon at 6′ 0″.
“It’s definitely a positive,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “We have to make sure they use those bodies to their advantage. We want them to play big and be harder to play against. Obviously, some of them are more physical than others. We use the term ‘be hard to play against’ and that’s what they need to be.”
Eight of the nine are New Jersey Devils draft picks and Raman Hrabarenka inked a deal with New Jersey this offseason after appearing in 34 games with Albany in 2011-12.
The Devils have options come Sunday for the 3 pm opener at Hartford. Kowalsky will look to field a mixture of shutdown defensemen and offensive blueliners.
“We have a lot of skill back there and a lot of size, which is going to help to our advantage,” Helgeson said. “The way we play, I think, we play a physical style, so it should help us out throughout the season.”
The defensemen will be back in their black jerseys Thursday as the team continues to prepare for Sunday’s opener at Hartford.
Reid Boucher, Riley Boychuk, Mike Hoeffel, Cam Janssen, Stefan Matteau, Chris McKelvie, Rod Pelley, Harri Pesonen, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Ben Thomson, Scott Timmins, Joe Whitney, David Wohlberg, Darcy Zajac, Kelly Zajac