By Gillian French | AHL On The Beat
Development is the name of the game in the American Hockey League. Players enter as boys and leave as men. Albany Devils defenseman Reece Scarlett is in the midst of that transition. The 24-year-old is in his fourth season with the team and has grown as a players and a person on and off the ice. For the 2016-17 season, he has been given a leadership role and now takes home-ice with an A stitched on his jersey.
“I think each year he has definitely gotten better both offensively and defensively,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “But I think this year for sure he’s definitely come in and been a leader.”
The Devils fifth pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Scarlett began his junior hockey career in 2008 at the age of 16. While in the WHL, he completed four seasons with the Swift Current Broncos, posting 25 goals and 107 assists for 132 points in 276 games.
In 2013, he joined the Devils organization at the young age of 20, making his professional debut on October 12, 2013 against Utica, and scoring his first goal a little over a month later. In his first year he tied for third on the team with six power-play goals and a +11 rating.
Since then, Scarlett has developed from someone who was an on-again-off-again player to an alternate captain. It’s clear he’s become more comfortable with the league and with himself as a player. He has improved each year on the ice and sets a tone for the players around him.
“It’s obviously a huge honor anytime you’re a leader on a hockey team,” said Scarlett. “But it’s my fourth year of pro hockey. It’s my fourth year in this organization and I feel like it’s definitely time for me to step up and start to take one of those roles. And like I said, it’s a huge honor, but I’m very happy about it.”
In 167 career AHL games, Scarlett has posted 12 goals and 60 assists for 72 points and a +15 rating. Last season, he posted a career-high 26 points (4g-22a) in 60 outings.
The Sherwood Park, Alberta-native is now an experienced player on a team full of new players. Even returning players can look up to him for assurance and support.
“This year he’s definitely come in and been a leader,” said fellow alternate captain Seth Helgeson. “He has to be a guy that guys look up to and definitely a guy that you can go to and ask questions. He’s knowledgeable about our team and definitely someone who is a good role model and a good leader. He’s someone we need to be successful.”
Scarlett believes the captains, including Rod Pelley, Carter Camper, and Andrew MacWilliam, have the leadership role “well covered.”
Scarlett will contribute by “day-in and day-out bringing my best attitude and my best effort to practice, to the rink, to the games, to work out, anything. It’s just about showing up and always putting your best foot forward. I think that’s the best way to lead. I’m sort of a quieter guy and it’s definitely just a lead by example situation and when things need to be said I’ll say them. But, you lead by how you carry yourself.”