Number of changes for Devils
|Larsson's number changed to No. 5. (Getty/NHL Images)|
Fourth-overall pick Adam Larsson is now No. 5 after wearing 42 in training camp. Adam Henrique went from 51 to 14, Brad Mills from 48 to 11, and Mark Fayne from 34 to 29. Petr Sykora, who officially signed, has No. 15 after starting camp with 40.
“It looks like I’ve made it, so hopefully I’ll be in the lineup on Saturday [for the home opener against the Flyers],” Larsson said.
Larsson has worn other numbers over the years, but spent the last two wearing No. 5 with Skelleftea of the Swedish Elite League.
“I’m used to it,” he said. Not that he had his heart set on it, but, “It’s fun because I’ve had it two years now.”
The 18-year-old said it hadn’t crossed his mind that he now has the same number as fellow Swede and NHL great Nicklas Lidstrom. But he did smile when asked if he was a fan.
“Of course,” Larsson said. “He’s huge in Sweden. Maybe one of the biggest defensemen in the world. Of course [I’m a fan].”
With just days to go before the start of the regular season, coach Peter DeBoer said the final group is all but set.
“What you saw today, if we can get through the next two practices, is probably going to be our lineup for Saturday,” DeBoer said.
Henrique, who wore 14 in his NHL debut in last season’s finale, was happy with the "new" digits.
“Nothing really changes,” he said. “It’s really just a number. I still have to come in here, play my game, play the way that’s gotten me here.”
Unlike Henrique, who was the Devils’ third-round choice in 2008, Mills was never drafted. The Yale grad has worked his way up from the ECHL to the AHL, never doubting that he could crack an NHL lineup someday.
“I knew it was going to be tough, I knew needed to play well, be at the top of my game and show what I could do," Mills said. "I believed there was an opportunity and I definitely believed in my ability to grab a spot.”
Injuries on the big club opened the door for Mills last season. He made his NHL debut, appearing in four games and scoring his first career goal. The 28-year-old understands what he has to do to contribute going forward.
“Play physical, be tough to play against, make life miserable for the other team, and use my skill to help the team win in anyway I can,” Mills said.
What about wearing No. 11?
“It was my older brother’s number growing up, so maybe it might mean something to him,” he said. “He actually texted me yesterday and said it was available, so it was kind of funny I came in today and it was hanging in my stall.
It’s just a number. In terms of my place here, I know what I need to do to stay. That’s what I’m going to do.”
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Petr Sykora
Ilya Kovalchuk - Dainius Zubrus - Nick Palmieri
Adam Henrique - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Brad Mills - Mattias Tedenby
Cam Janssen - Rod Pelley
On defense: Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne, Mark Fraser - Anton Stralman, Andy Greene - Adam Larsson, Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Martin Brodeur, Johan Hedberg