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by Bill Cain

The Devils' Details

A Daily Gazette sports blog
Bill Cain covers the Albany Devils

Johnson signs ATO with Albany

By Bill Cain
Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Albany Devils signed left wing Ben Johnson to an amateur tryout contract, and he skated with the team for the first time Thursday morning.

Johnson, a 19-year-old native of Calumet, Mich., just finished his third season with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL after the Spitfires were swept out of the postseason by London. He was drafted by New Jersey in the third round (90th overall) of the 2012 draft.

In 59 regular-season games, Johnson had 28 goals and 25 assists. He had four goals and two assists in the Spitfires' four postseason games.

"We've seen him in camp, a few development camps," Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. "He's quick, fast. That's about it, right now. I think he had a pretty good year in Windsor. This is the first day he's skated with us. I think he's had about a week off. Whether we look at using him this weekend remains to be seen. Maybe one game, depending on if the need arises. Right now, it's just getting him in here and getting him acclimated to systems first."

In recent years, the Devils have been near elimination or already out of the playoff hunt when they've signed young players to ATO contracts. In the thick of the race now, it will be tougher to get Johnson and any other ATO players into games down the stretch.

"In years past, you want to give these kids an opportunity and get a look at them, but right now, these games are pretty important," Kowalsky said. "I think it's still, if we think they're capable of coming in and helping us, filling a role for us and they’re ready for it ... But I certainly think if you've got a full roster, your regular roster, there's no question we'll be maybe a little more hesitant based on what they may bring or may not bring to the table."

In other roster news, rookie defenseman Reece Scarlett (upper body) has been skating with the team and may return to game action this week.

"We're going to have a conversation. He said he felt better," Kowalsky said. "If we can get one out of him this weekend, that'd be good."

Not returning this weekend is left wing Chris McKelvie (lower body), who has not yet returned to practice.

"We pulled back a bit on him," Kowalsky said. "We're talking about maybe getting him back on the ice tomorrow, and we'll see how he is from there."

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