The Capitals assigned gritty center Michael Latta to the Hershey Bears on Thursday in order to make room on the 23-man roster for newly-acquired defensive prospect Alexander Urbom.
Washington picked up Urbom, 22, off of waivers from the New Jersey Devils, who waived the Swedish blueliner to make room for Patrik Elias on their roster.
A left-handed shot, Urbom has 14 games of NHL experience under his belt but spent the majority of the last three seasons with the AHL’s Albany Devils. Urbom is listed at 6-feet-4, 215 pounds and is more of a stay at home defenseman but is said to skate well for his size. He’s recorded two goals at the NHL level but in 190 AHL games he has just four goals and 39 assists.
Coach Adam Oates is familiar with Urbom from his two-years as an assistant coach in New Jersey and the addition brings size into the organization’s defensive depth that wasn’t there previously.
“He’s a big kid, skates very well at the time he was very raw but I don’t really know how much he’s advanced since then,” said Oates, who saw Urbom play eight games for the Devils in 2010-11.
Oates stressed that he’s not sure where Urbom will fit at this stage. The Swedish blueliner is expected to arrive at Verizon Center tonight and will join the team in practice and on the trip to Dallas Friday.
“I think we’ve got to wait and see honestly. Give him a chance to get acclimated and see, I know he’s played a lot of the same similar stuff that we’ve played,” Oates said. “He was on the scouts radar as a potential because a lot of teams have situations.”
As for Latta, who made his NHL debut Tuesday night against the Blackhawks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him recalled at some point in the future. The 22 year old didn’t need to pass through waivers in order to be assigned to Hershey, which made for easier roster maneuvering to accommodate Urbom.
“That was a situation where the hand was forced,” Oates said of Latta. “He played good the other night and we like him. We just talked to him and [said] ‘You’ve got to be a pro right now.'”
With Latta assigned to the Bears, Jay Beagle will likely slot into the fourth-line center role after sitting out the season opener as a healthy scratch.