Troy, NY – Matt Lorito played 11 games last year with the Albany Devils as an ATO (amateur try out) and put up three goals and nine assists. Jon Merril had a goal and seven assists while Reid Boucher had three goals and two assists when they were on ATOs in 2013. On his ATO, Stephen Gionta had five goals and an assist in just three games back in 2006.
And while there are a handful of players who had immediate success in the pro game, the majority of players take a little more time to acclimate. In fact, if you took every other player that was signed to an ATO since the Devils returned to Albany in 2010, you would see 11 players who played a total of 57 games and produced only four goals and five assists.
Last year’s other ATO was Max Novak, who had just finished his fourth season at Union College. Novak played in only four games while with the Devils, and did not produce a point. But don’t tell him that it was not a beneficial experience.
“I think playing last year was probably the best thing for me, or really for anybody,” Novak said. “To be able to watch the game and see how it’s played is one thing, but to actually be on the ice, you notice the speed and the strength of the guys and their size.”
Not only was Oak Ridge, NJ native able to get some game time, he also got to know his future teammates.
“It’s definitely nice. You feel a little more comfortable in the locker room with the guys. I think I was there with them for about a month and a half so I know all the guys that came back. And the new guys, I kind of fit right in with them from the prospect camp and the rookie camp. It definitely helps to have been here last year.”
Novak’s ATO not only benefitted him, but also the coaches.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for them,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “Even though Max only played in four or five games, we got to see some things in practice we liked.”
In approaching his rookie season, Novak was well prepared for what to expect thanks in large part to his late season signing.
“He’s done everything in his power coming to camp in good shape and has looked good so far for us,” Kowalsky said. “He looks comfortable; he does look more comfortable this year.”
And for Novak, that was the whole idea. So even though he didn’t fill up the score sheet in his short stint last season, does he think the experience was worthwhile?
“I think that it was by far the best thing for me.”