The Capitals have claimed defenseman Alexander Urbom off waivers from the New Jersey Devils. Urbom was New Jersey’s third-round pick (73rd overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
In a corresponding move, Washington has reassigned center Michael Latta to Hershey of the American Hockey League.
The 22-year-old Urbom is a native of Stockholm, Sweden who stands 6-foot-4 and tips the scales at 215 pounds. The left-handed blueliner has played 14 NHL games over parts of three seasons with the Devils, totaling two goals and nine penalty minutes while averaging 13:03 in ice time.
After playing in the Swedish Elite League during his draft season of 2008-09, Urbom came to North America and spent the 2009-10 season with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. He totaled a dozen goals and 33 points in 66 games that season, his lone campaign of North American junior hockey.
“He left Sweden to play in the Western Hockey League,” notes caps coach Adam Oates. “That shows he’s a tough kid.”
Urbom cracked New Jersey’s opening night roster as a 19-year-old in 2010-11. He played in his second NHL game against the Capitals at Verizon Center on Oct. 9, 2010 in Washington’s home opener that season, a 7-2 Caps victory. Urbom logged 14:02 in ice time against Washington that night.
The second of Urbom’s two career NHL goals was scored against the Capitals in New Jersey on Dec. 23, 2011. It came in the second period of a 4-3 New Jersey shootout win and was scored against Caps’ goalie Michal Neuvirth.
In his three seasons in the AHL, Urbom’s point totals dipped from 23 (two goals, 21 assists) in 72 games in 2010-11 to 12 (two goals, 10 assists) in 50 games in 2011-12 to eight (eight assists) in 68 games in 2012-13.
Urbom has prior history with Oates. Oates was an assistant coach with the Devils for each of Urbom’s first two professional seasons.
“He is a big, strong kid,” states Oates. “[He] skates good, uses his body well. And he fought [Montreal’s Brandon] Prust [in a preseason game] the other night. He’s got huge potential. I don’t think his offense has come out yet.
“He has upside potential, he’s big and he skates good. I really honestly feel that when our organization works with guys, I think we can make guys better. I want that to be our calling; I really and truly do.
“Here’s a kid who is not playing for New Jersey – they’ve got depth issues as well. If we can make him better, he upgrades us. There is no secret potion. If he upgrades, he plays. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t.”
Urbom will report to Washington and Oates and Caps assistant coach Calle Johansson – himself a Swedish native and a veteran of 1,109 games in the NHL – will start working with him.
“I had a history with him, liked him and saw him available,” says Oates.
The claim of Urbom and subsequent reassignment of Latta to Hershey leaves Washington with 13 forwards and eight defensemen. The Caps have four lefty rearguards and four right-handers.