TROY, NY — The major question heading into the Albany Devils season opener at Adirondack Saturday is which 20 players will be on the ice.
The AHL regular season begins Friday night, but the Devils will only play one game this opening weekend. They will have six days to retool and reevaluate before traveling to Bridgeport on Friday, Oct. 17.
“It’s really going to be a message to the guys not playing: it’s one game and there is another week here, “ said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky after Thursday’s practice at Knickerbacker Ice Arena. “There are always tough decisions this time of year, but it’s from a position of strength. We could easily ice five lines that we would be confident could play.”
Offensively, the Devils return seven of their top eight scorers from last season. They added 20-goal scorer Paul Thompson and rookies Graham Black, Ben Johnson and Ben Thomson. Additionally, Steve Bernier and Cam Janssen were just assigned by New Jersey to Albany.
“I’ve said it quite a few times: it’s been a really competitive camp, everybody has shown really well, and done really well,” Kowalsky said. “It’s not just going to be about the young guys or the guys who have been here, we are going to put the best lineup that we think can win that night on the ice.”
The Devils staff will have one final practice to formulate Saturday’s roster. The team is scheduled to skate Friday morning at Knickerbacker Ice Arena.
• Peter Harrold joined his Albany teammates after being assigned Tuesday. Harrold — a vet of 231 career NHL games – played 61 games with Albany during the 2011-12 season.
• Alexander Carrier, Renat Mamashev and Tom Hartnett have all been released from their training camp tryouts.
• Both Chris McKelvie (lower body) and Kelly Zajac (lower body) missed Thursday’s practice.