|Havelid warms up prior to Thursday's practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. |
Niclas Havelid took part Thursday in his first full practice, and the early feedback on the veteran defenseman is all positive.
Havelid was slotted on the right side of Bryce Salvador
“It’s definitely good to have him here,” Salvador said. “Whenever you can add experience and veteran experience, it’s nice to be able to do. He’s played in the League long enough, and we’ve played each other lots of times. He’s a solid, steady defenseman, and he’s only going to need one practice or a couple practices. He knows how we play, and it’s a nice addition.”
Salvador was happy about one other thing, too.
"I’m no longer the oldest d-man on the team," he joked. Salvador turned 33 last month, while Havelid will be 36 on April 12.
Havelid was acquired Monday with minor-league forward Myles Stoesz from Atlanta in exchange for defenseman Anssi Salmela. He sounded pleased with his first skate with the full squad.
“I’d had three days off, so it was good to get back on the ice and get ready for Saturday’s game,” said Havelid, who last played on Feb. 28 in the Thrashers’ win over visiting Carolina.
Now, head coach Brent Sutter will work at getting his new blueliner in sync with the Devils’ system. First-place New Jersey holds a nine-point lead over Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division with 18 games remaining.
The club leads Washington by two points for second in the Eastern Conference, six behind top-seeded Boston, and will be back in action Saturday at Long Island.
“Definitely different systems,” Sutter said, comparing the Devils and Thrashers. “But I think he’s a player that will adapt and adjust very well with how we play. He’s an experienced guy that knows how to play the game.”
Havelid was used by Atlanta in special teams situations this season, and Sutter expects to fit him into a similar role. Included in Havelid's 15 points are two power-play assists, as well as a shorthanded goal and assist.
Said Sutter, “I’m looking forward to getting him into the game on Saturday.”