Rookie defenseman Alexander Urbom
has been one of the top prospects at camp. He made a believer out of defensive partner Henrik Tallinder
after just one preseason game.
They each recorded two assists in the Devils' 4-3 shootout loss at Philadelphia on Tuesday. Jersey's Team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead before Danny Briere tied it late in the third and Mike Richards sealed it in the fourth round of the shootout.
Besides his two helpers, Urbom also finished a plus-2.
"He played great," Talllinder said Wednesday. "He's got good size, good mobility. The composure he showed I think was really remarkable for a 19-year-old. There's not much to say: I was impressed."
There's often a longer incubation period for defenseman as they learn the nuances of life on the blueline.
"If you make a mistake, as a defenseman you're always responsible and responsibility comes with age," Tallinder noted. "At that age, you might be a little bit careless and trying to do the magical play that you can't do all the time, especially not in this League. But he showed he's mature for his age. He didn't make any mistakes and that's remarkable for a young kid and harder for a defenseman to do that."
Another part of a young defenseman's development is coping with the pressures of the position.
"As a forward, you can make mistakes because you have cover from the defensemen and the goalie," Tallinder said. "We only have the goalie."
Tallinder believes Urbom could be ready for the next step. Drafted 73rd overall by the Devils in 2009, Urbom spent last season in Brandon (WHL), where he collected 12 goals and 21 assists in 66 games. It was Urbom's first year in North America.
"There's always some stuff here and there," Tallinder said. "That goes along with playing games and getting the experience. But he's definitely there, knocking on the door."
Head coach John MacLean has been high the Devils' crop of young defenders, including Matt Corrente, Tyler Eckford, Eric Gelinas
and Matt Taormina
"This League now, you need mobility, you need guys who can move the puck and move their puck," he said. "It bodes well for the future, if not right now."
Tuesday's game marked Tallinder's first appearance as a Devil. The 31-year-old enters his ninth NHL season after signing with New Jersey as a free agent this summer. Measuring in at 6-4, 210-lbs., the former Buffalo Sabre brings a towering presence to the Devils' D corps.
"It felt good," he said of his debut. "I think Alex and I played pretty solid. We played against a pretty good team, they had a lot of their regulars. We didn't play that well in the third, but I guess that's kind of normal for the preseason. But I think we played a decent game."