Urbom deals well with ups and downs
It must feel nice to be wanted by multiple organizations, but this season still has to have been challenging for Alexander Urbom.
The defenseman was placed on waivers Oct. 2 by New Jersey as the Devils were hoping to slip him down to Albany in the AHL, but before he could clear waivers on Oct. 3, he was claimed by the Washington Capitals.
The Caps kept him up in the NHL, where he played 20 games for them early in the season. But when their D-corps got deeper and healthier, there were fewer spots, and Urbom ended up sitting out as a healthy scratch for a few weeks.
Then Washington placed him on waivers, ready to send him to the AHL to play with the Hershey Bears, but New Jersey plucked him up off the waiver wire, reclaiming their lost prospect and assigning him to Albany.
The back and forth is one thing, but more challenging has to be how Urbom had to deal with changing organizations, getting his longest stretch of NHL ice time, then sitting for weeks while he was healthy, them changing organizations again, then getting sent down to the AHL. Of course, back in the AHL, he's back on the ice, too.
"Of course, it's been a lot of ups and downs and stuff like that," Urbom said after Saturday's 5-2 win with Albany over Manchester. "I just have to keep on playing, play good, and believing in myself, and it's good to be here and get some ice time.
"If I was like 32, then it would be better to be up there, maybe. But I just turned 23, so I need to play and keep developing. It's better for me to be playing here than sitting in the stands in the NHL."
Urbom has taken the moves and the changes in ice time remarkably well. Despite all the shifts in his focus, he is very clear about being fully concetrated on the here and now, getting ready for today's game with Hershey in Atlantic City.
The way he played in Washington has much to do with that attitude.
"My confidence is pretty high. I think I played pretty good," he said. "There were a lot of defensemen there, and there was not really a spot. I was playing pretty well, I thought, and it didn't work out. Now I'm back here, and I'll keep playing good.
"It's experience. Practice with all those guys, play against all the other teams. It's always good for you. It's a little bit different game, it might be a little bit faster here. Everybody runs around and hits each other a little more [in the AHL]. So it's a little bit of a different game. It was a great experience."
When the Caps claimed Urbom, Albany coach Rick Kowalsky was disappointed to see him leaving the organization, but he was glad the young defenseman was going to get some more NHL experience.
"We were happy. We were happy to see him get claimed, not organizationally, but that he was going to get a chance to play in the NHL. Unfortunately, he didn't get a whole bunch of time up there. He played a little bit early, but I think he was scratched for about 12 straight games. He's a good kid, still young with lots of potential. I'm glad we got him in the organization. Our job is to get him ready to go [for NHL duty]."
He's been ready to go in the first two games this weekend, but he arrived back in Albany on as tough a three-in-three weekend as he could. The Devils played the top two teams in the league (and won both) on Friday and Saturday, and now they play the always-tough Hershey Bears this afternoon. The same Hershey Bears Urbom could have been suiting up for, had New Jersey not jumped at the chance to regain his services earlier this week.
Despite the heavy schedule after weeks without ice time, though, Urbom said he's ready to go.
"It's all right. Of course, I'm a little bit tired," he said. "I didn't play much the last month in Washington, but I feel fine, to be honest. Maybe the legs are a little bit tired, but it's the same for everyone. So it's not too bad."