Devils Look To Replenish System
With seven picks in the first three rounds of the NHL’s 2000 Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils had a great chance to solidify its future. General Manager Lou Lamoriello and his staff made some surprising picks, some solid picks and some intriguing picks.
New Jersey had the 22nd pick of the draft and surprised no one by choosing a defenseman. What did surprise many was that the pick turned out to be David Hale of Sioux City of the USHL.
Hale, 6-1 and 204 lbs., was rated 25th among North American skaters by the Central Scouting Bureau. Since there were so many highly touted Europeans in this year’s draft, many expected Hale to go later in the second round. However, the physical defenseman, who will attend North Dakota this coming year, surely seems like a good fit for the Devils.
In the second round, New Jersey had four picks, picking two forwards and two defensemen. Finnish right wing Teemu Laine was a solid pick while unheralded Russian center Aleksander Suglobov could be classified as a surprise. The Devils then added two American defensemen later in the round. Matt DeMarchi of the University of Minnesota was chosen along with future Golden Gopher Paul Martin of Elk River High School.
It was in the third round that things got a little more interesting for the Devils. Max Birbraer, a left wing from Tier II Newmarket, was New Jersey’s first pick of the third round. Birbraer’s family fled Kazakhstan to avoid religious persecution (Birbraer is Jewish). After his family emigrated to Israel, Birbraer was later jailed for failure to serve a mandatory two years with the Israeli army. After three weeks in prison, Birbraer made his way back to Canada to help further his hockey career.
Michael Rupp of Erie of the OHL was another interesting if less intriguing pick in the third round. Rupp was the 9th overall pick of the 1998 draft. When the New York Islanders were unable to sign the 6-5 left wing, he re-entered the draft and the Devils may have a late blooming bargain in Rupp.
When all was said and done, the Devils picked five defensemen, six forwards and a goaltender. Expect at least several of those picks to end up in New Jersey uniforms over the next few years.