John MacLean has already given the A-Train an A-plus.
The new head coach met one of the newest members of his defense on Thursday when Anton Volchenkov rumbled through Prudential Center for a visit. The Russian blueliner was in town to work out family arrangements for his move to New Jersey.
“Nice kid, looking forward to it,” MacLean said Thursday. “Big guy.”
Volchenkov signed as a free agent from Ottawa on July 1, along with fellow defender Henrik Tallinder and goaltender Johan Hedberg. Devils’ President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello offered high praise for Volchenkov’s hard-hitting style, describing it as something the Devils have been missing from their blueline.
“Volchenkov, we certainly have played against enough, and he’s going to do something in our zone that we have not had recently, in fact since Scott Stevens left,” Lamoriello said shortly after the signing.
He’s the kind of player that could make life just a little easier for a first year head coach.
“He plays the game hard,” MacLean said. “He’s a shot blocker, he takes the body, he’s not nice to play against. I know Patrik [Elias] and Travis [Zajac] were here so they met him. I’m sure they were excited not having to run into him six times a year, only in practice.”
Volchenkov is one of the game’s premier shot blockers, as his 172 in 2009-10 can attest. It’s not just the quantity, but the style which MacLean admires, noting that Volchenkov doesn’t get caught out of position.