The New Jersey Devils announced on Saturday that they’ve recalled forward Max Willman from their AHL affiliate, Utica Comets. The Devils lost the services of Jack Hughes in their tilt against the St. Louis Blues on Friday night. New Jersey’s captain, Nico Hischier, has been sidelined for over a week and is not on the current road trip. Willman will join the Devils in Chicago when New Jersey faces the Blackhawks on Sunday.
The last time the Devils recalled a forward due to Hischier’s injury, head coach Lindy Ruff explained Justin Dowling got the call because he was Utica’s best player at the time. In terms of points, Xavier Parent has been the Comets’ best forward, however, Willman fits the need for a center.
In seven AHL games this season, Willman has potted four goals and three assists as a point-per-game player. The former Lehigh Valley Phantom is already on pace to have his best career AHL season to date. That is if he’s in the AHL much this season.
The Devils have yet to provide a health status update on Hughes since his injury. As for Hischier, he’s be evaluated “day-by-day,” rather than being labeled “day-to-day.”
Willman signed a professional tryout with the Devils this summer. He was New Jersey’s only PTO candidate at training camp. A strong preseason led to general manager Tom Fitzgerald offering Willman a two-way contract worth $135,000 ($150,000 guaranteed) at the American Hockey League (AHL) level and $775,000 at the NHL level. He certainly earned it.
Willman’s recall doesn’t necessarily indicate a positive or negative development in Hughes’ status right now. When Dowling was recalled last, the veteran forward took warmups with the Devils once, just to be sent down to the Comets again the next day.
New Jersey won’t have a morning skate on Sunday. We’ll hear from Ruff at 4 PM.