Back on Oct. 3, 2013, the New Jersey Devils lost one of their vaunted prospects in Alexander Urbom when former coach Adam Oates and the Washington Capitals claimed the 23 year old off of waivers. Now, three months later, Urbom finds himself in the same position.
Urbom was placed on waivers today by the Caps, exposing him to the other 29 teams in the league; one of those teams is the Devils, of course. The problem is that right now, the Devils have an abundance of NHL defensemen on the roster already. They just had to send vaunted prospect Eric Gelinas back down, despite some really good play when he was first brought up. Adam Larsson is on his way back to the team, which would bring the number of defensemen on the main roster to eight. It should be noted that either Gelinas or Jon Merrill will most likely be sent down to Albany to continue to get playing time when he does come back.
There is a difference between the Devils’ claim and every other team’s claim. If any team in the NHL makes a claim on Urbom, then he needs to be on their professional roster, but if the Devils make a claim and nobody else does, since he was taken off waivers earlier in the season, he would be allowed to go down to their AHL affiliate. This would give the Devils a reprieve from losing the prospect they were hoping would be there anyway. The question is, should they?
There is no question that there is no room on the main roster for him right now. There are many veterans who play the same exact game as he does. Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov come to mind when you look at that point, but they are both getting up there in age, Salvador especially. Is Urbom worth bringing on for when they both go off to pasture in Devils lore?
There isn’t much to lose here for the Devils. Urbom was a great talent that, no matter how Lou Lamoriello reacted when he was claimed, should never have been lost in the first place. He needs a little more polishing before he is a full-time NHL starter, but he has the talent and ability to be a very good defenseman for a very long time. Put the claim on, and if you win it, put him in Albany like you originally wanted.