Speedy Albert on Jets’ radar
Rookie pro making an excellent first impression with AHL's IceCaps
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/12/2011 (4110 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
HAMILTON, Ont. — NHL organizations are permitted a maximum of 50 contracts, and John Albert’s is not among those registered by the Winnipeg Jets.
But don’t be surprised if sometime soon you start hearing the name of the the 22-year-old native of Concord, Ohio in the discussion about Jets’ prospects.
Albert, a rookie centre out of NCAA hockey, is getting is pro feet wet with the St. John’s IceCaps. Through 26 games, he has raised a few eyebrows since agreeing to an AHL contract last summer.
“Seeing him in Penticton (Jets’ rookie camp) was my first look at John,” IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge said Wednesday at Copps Coliseum, where the IceCaps resumed their AHL schedule with a 3-1 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs. “You could tell coming out of Ohio State, college guy, older guy, he has more poise on the ice. But the biggest thing that jumped out right from Day 1 was his speed.
“He can execute at real high pace. Also being an older guy, you can see his leadership is there. His work ethic is second to none every night. Every night we look at tape, he’s either the top one or in the top three of the hardest-working guys on the ice.”
Albert, a plus-one Wednesday skating on a line with Garth Murray and Kevin Clark, has just three goals and 11 points so far in the AHL but pace and reliability will get attention in any organization.
As will a track record.
Albert played four years at Ohio State, captaining the team in his final year. A sixth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007, the organization that became the Jets never had an urge to sign him until he became a free agent last summer and until they became the Jets.
“I didn’t really know what to think, coming in,” Albert said Wednesday. “Honestly, coming to the pro game, I was kind of nervous.
“But I think it’s easier to play in the aspect that you have better players around you and guys know what they’re doing and the systems work a lot better.
“I think I’ve adjusted to it well so far. My role on this team so far is get some energy for the guys. I like that role. It’s worked out. The team’s doing well. It’s not a huge transition, but it’s one that’s definitely there.”
McCambridge is not shy talking about Albert’s future.
“He brings a lot of real heart, and as a young guy overall, I think he has a bright future ahead of him,” the coach said.
What does he see there?
“Being a third- or fourth-line guy who can be reliable in his own zone, kill penalties, get in on the forecheck because he moves so well, a dependable guy that plays with a lot of speed, which you need,” he said. “And he’s a thick kid.”
But at 5-foot-11, 182 pounds, is he big enough to be in an NHL discussion?
“You’ve seen the guys who play who are smaller than him or the same size and have had successful careers,” McCambridge said. “And he’s strong on his skates, not knocked off pucks very much, so I believe he is.”
Albert, who had 34 points in 37 games in his final Ohio State season in Columbus, is not only getting new vantage point on the ice in his first pro season.
“(St. John’s) is very far away from my hometown,” he said. “But I’ve been away from home since I was 16 and I know that. It’s not a big deal, but I miss them because we have a close family.
“It’s a culture shock. The weather’s totally different. But I like it a lot there.”
NOTES: The IceCaps are now 11-0-2-1 on the road this season, and have scored a power-play goal in 21 straight games.