First NHL call-up for centreman
Hard work has its reward. For John Albert, it’s his first-ever recall to the National Hockey League.
On Sunday, the 24-year-old forward was promoted from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps to the Winnipeg Jets. The move was made as a precaution because of an injury suffered by Jets winger Evander Kane in Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Kane has not practised since and is questionable for tonight’s game against the Rangers in New York.
Albert has three goals and eight points while appearing in all 23 games for the IceCaps this season. Known as an industrious checker with good skating ability, he has been recently been playing on St. John’s second line with veterans Jason Jaffray and Andrew Gordon.
Last season, the 5-10, 185-pound native of suburban Cleveland missed 52 games because of injury, but as an IceCaps rookie in 2011-12, Albert earned the team’s hardest-working player award after scoring nine goals and 27 points in 64 contests.
A sixth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers out of Ohio State University, where he was a team captain, Albert operated under an AHL contract in St. John’s for his first two pro seasons before signing his first NHL deal with the Jets over the summer.
Albert’s departure would seem to leave the IceCaps with 12 healthy forwards, the standard minimum. Blair Riley was a healthy scratch in Saturday’s win over the Senators in Binghamton, but Josh Lunden hasn’t played in more than six weeks because of injury and while rookie Austen Brassard was listed as a healthy scratch during the team’s recent road trip, head coach Keith McCambridge confirmed the 20-year-old from Windsor, Ont., left the team a couple of weeks ago because, “of personal reasons.”
McCambridge would not elaborate on the circumstances, but said Brassard’s were different than those involving Ivan Telegin, who was suspended before the start of the season for refusing to report to the IceCaps and has since returned to Russia.
“Personal reasons” were also cited in the case of Telegin, who it was suggested was unsatisfied with his place in the Jets’ organization and wanted to play in Russia. The 21-year-old has not played anywhere since, although CKSA of the Kontinental Hockey League did trade for his rights within that league.
McCambridge did say he had spoken to Brassard in the last couple of days and, “things were moving in the right direction” as far has his returning to hockey, but that there was no timetable for that happening.
Brassard, a fifth-round choice of the Jets in the 2011 NHL draft, signed a three-year, two-way entry-level contract with Winnipeg earlier this year, calling for salaries of $610,000 in the NHL and $55,000 in the AHL this season. The deal also included a $160,000 signing bonus spread over three years.
A product of the OHL’s Belleville Bulls, the six-foot-two, 210-pound Brassard had played in six games for the IceCaps this season, scoring one goal. His last appearance in a contest for St. John’s was Nov. 2 against Worcester.