Mike Van Ryn wants to be a free agent. The New Jersey Devils want Van Ryn to remain Devils’ property. Others want Van Ryn to go back into the draft.
It remains to be seen whether Van Ryn hits the jackpot. With the NHL draft right around the corner, the former University of Michigan and Sarnia Sting defenseman’s status remains in question. After playing two seasons at Michigan, Van Ryn, a 1998 first round draft choice of New Jersey, decided to play a year in the Ontario Hockey League. The young defenseman and his agent claim this path should lead to free agency.
An arbitrator still has not decided Van Ryn’s case and an answer may not be forthcoming until mid-July. However Van Ryn and his agent, Don Meehan, remain patient and hopeful.
“We have a hearing scheduled for June 13,” according to Meehan. “The arbitrator then has thirty days to hand down his decision.”
Both New Jersey and the National Hockey League are quite anxious about the final decision in this case. The Devils are concerned they could lose the rights to one of their top prospects. The NHL is worried about the precedent that could be set by this case. If Van Ryn wins, a U.S. college hockey player who is drafted in the future could attain free agent status by playing a year for a Canadian junior team.
According to Meehan, “We remain very optimistic about the results of the arbitration hearing.” The Devils, along with the NHL, can only hope the optimism of Meehan and Van Ryn is misguided.
Well, in nine days the Devils will start training camp and there will be a few no shows. As usual the holdouts that take place in New Jersey is no surprise, but what is a surprise is that NJ’s top pick this past draft Ari Ahonen will bypass his opportunity to make an impression on the Devils top brass.
Ari Ahonen, chosen 27th overall, will skip this camp and work on becoming the No. 1 goalie in the first-division Finnish Elite League. Although the 6-2, 172-pound Ahonen is highly regarded, he is only 18.
“He won’t be here,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “He’s going to be a No. 1 goalie at 18. It’s good, but you like to see your young kids brought along slowly.” Ahonen played for Jyvasklya in the Finnish Junior League last season. Lou feels Ari will be a starting goalie in the NHL in the future. With the progress of JF Damphousse developing a lot slower then the Devils hoped, it only made sense to go out and draft another netminder. A lot of heads turned when Lou Lamoriello choose Ahonen, but NJ who has one of the best scouting system in the league was sold on him from the beginning. It’s rumored that when NJ was scouting slick skating defensman Brian Rafalski they found Ahonen also. “I always take into account what Dave says” (Devils head scout David Conte) “And he came to me and told me that Ahonen was very talented and polished even at 17, we could not take a chance on passing him up.” said Lamoriello
The New Jersey Devils have had a great draft history over the past few years, putting the most players in the National Hockey League of any organization in the league. Almost 40 in the last 4 seasons. This kind of success must continue in order for the Devils to be competitive. Although the Devils first round pick is not until the 27th overall. The Devils have even with late picks, had tremendous success. I am sure that GM Lou Lamoriello will make this one no exception.
The New Jersey Devils must have listened to their fans, because they went for offense in this year’s entry draft.
Of the Devils’ 12 draft picks, 10 were forwards. That’s a change of pace for
GM Lou Lamoriello, who usually likes to draft defensemen and goaltenders. As
it was, Lamoriello used his first pick (26th overall) to take a defenseman —
Mike Van Ryn of NCAA champion Michigan.
The most intriguing pick the Devils made came in the fourth round when they
brought Pierre Dagenais back into the fold. Jersey had let Dagenais (whom they
selected in the second round of the 1996 draft) back into this year’s draft
pool after they couldn’t sign him to a pro contract. But despite a 133-point
season with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec League, Dagenais slipped untouched
until the Devils took him 105th overall. Whether Dagenais slipped because he
didn’t sign the first time or because so many other NHL teams were busy
raiding the European market is a moot point. The Devils must make every effort
to sign him this time around. Otherwise, they will be passing up on a future
The other thing that can be said of this year’s draft is that you won’t be
seeing many of these players in the Jersey farm system any time soon. Half of
the players picked by the Devils are North American junior league players who
haven’t reached their 20th birthdays yet. Van Ryn and right winger Brian Read more»