Devils Training Camp in Full Swing
The New Jersey Devils opened training camp on September 8th fresh from a summer of Stanley Cup celebrations. Many Devils’ prospects missed out on those celebrations but are pressing to be a part of future ones.
The departure of Claude Lemieux, Vladimir Malakhov and Brad Bombardir ensures there will be some new blood in the New Jersey locker room. Backup goaltender Chris Terreri turns 36 in November and the Devils plan on taking a long look at their goaltending future. In addition, for now a couple of slots remain open due to the contract holdouts of Scott Niedermayer and Jason Arnott.
In goal there is no doubt that the tandem of Martin Brodeur and Terreri will remain in place at least for this season barring any injury. Although none of the team’s other goaltenders appear ready for the NHL, the Devils were impressed with the play of Ari Ahonen, the former number one pick from Finland.
Ahonen at age 19 showed promise in his limited time in camp before returning to Finland. New Jersey is hopeful the young goaltender will return the U.S. later in the season and play some games for Albany of the AHL. The fact that Ahonen appears to be the goaltender of the future does not bode well for Jean-Francois Damphousse and Frederic Henry who will once again split time in Albany.
Even with the absence of Arnott, there are not many forward positions available for the prospects. Steve Kelly will likely be kept as a 4th liner/designated sitter. Pierre Dagenais had hoped to win a spot but has been limited by a sore shoulder and should be heading back to the AHL.
The Devils’ organizational depth on defense remains astounding. Willie Mitchell appears likely to have nailed down the role of 6th defenseman. In addition, Sascha Goc may start the season in New Jersey while Niedermayer remains unsigned.
Josef Boumedienne, the Swedish rearguard who spent the last two seasons in Finland, is making a slower than expected adjustment to NHL style play and will likely begin the season in Albany. He should be joined by Andre Lakos and Daryl Andrews although both have been impressive in camp.
Lakos, a 6’6″ Austrian, is not ready for the NHL but appears more steady and confident this season. Daryl Andrews, who spent four years at Western Michigan University, has opened some eyes with his performance at his first pro training camp. Another former collegian, Mike Commodore of North Dakota, will also likely begin his season in Albany but has a bright future.
With the depth on defense and lack of same at forward it should only be a matter of time before one or two of the above defenseman is traded to fill a need. With the Devils track record you can count on it.
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