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McAmmond skates in practice

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
McAmmond sees himself as a depth player in New Jersey.
Dean McAmmond was hoping to dress with the Devils to face two of his former teams last week.

The club had signed the 36-year-old forward to a two-way contract on Nov. 6, the same day they were set to host the Islanders. They traveled to Ottawa to face the Senators the next night.

“I was hoping to get right into it,” said McAmmond, who would miss both games with a sinus infection. “I was looking on the schedule, going, ‘Man, I’d love to get up there for those two games.’ Obviously it didn’t work out.”

On Friday, McAmmond took part in his first Devils practice and centered a line with Brian Rolston and David Clarkson. He's set to join a squad that has won seven in a row despite injuries to several key regulars: forwards Rob Niedermayer (upper body) and Jay Pandolfo (shoulder); and defensemen Paul Martin (arm) and Johnny Oduya (lower body).

Coming off Thursday's 4-1 win in Pittsburgh, the Devils will host Washington on Saturday. New Jersey will then look to make history at Philadelphia on Monday. Currently 9-0 on the road, Jersey's Team can tie the 2006-07 Sabres for the longest road winning streak to start a season (10-0).

McAmmond, a native of Grand Cache, Alberta, is getting healthy, but isn’t 100 percent just yet.

“I’m coming out of it,” he said. “I’m still a little bit congested, but not like I was. Having the week off just when I was starting to get into shape was tough. It set me back a little bit.”

McAmmond was signed on Oct. 20 by the Devils’ AHL affiliate in Lowell, where he had a goal and two assists in six games. He notched five goals and 11 assists in 62 games split last season between Long Island and Ottawa, and has amassed 178 goals and 253 assists in 934 contests over 16 NHL seasons. His most productive season came in 2001-02, when he recorded 21 goals and 30 assists in 73 appearances with Calgary.

“I was fighting it for a couple of days in Lowell,” he said. “I just thought it was a cold and was trying to skate it off. The night I talked to Lou (Lamoriello) and was coming up, I never got much sleep and it hit me really hard. I didn’t really know what I was battling at that point.”

McAmmond had been in the Devils’ system during the 2004-05 lockout, when he had 19 goals and 42 assists with Albany (AHL). Once he landed in Lowell, however, his goal was to make it to New Jersey.

“That was the idea,” he said. “To try and get up here and add some depth.”

The sinusitis was a setback. The Devils placed forward Niedermayer on injured reserve the same day McAmmond signed his two-way contract.

“It couldn’t have been any worse timing for me to get sick,” he said.

McAmmond has played every forward position, everywhere from top line to fourth. He said he hopes to play wherever the Devils need him.

“I have lots of experience, but I see myself as being a depth guy here,” he said.

Thirteen skaters took part in Friday's optional practice. Besides Rolston - McAmmond - Clarkson, Tim Sestito centered Matt Halischuk and Ilkka Pikkarainen, and Rod Pelley centered Andrew Peters and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. Defensemen were Matt Corrente, Mark Fraser and Cory Murphy, with Yann Danis in net.

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