The Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils should open the 2000-01 season without a great number of new players on the roster. However, training camp should still be quite interesting for Devil watchers.
Goaltender Ari Ahonen, New Jersey’s first round pick in the 1999 draft, will be attending his first NHL camp. The 19 year old Finn has played well in his native country but the Devils are anxious to see how this will translate to the North American game.
Ahonen has no chance of being on the opening night roster. New Jersey would love for the young netminder to agree to play this season at Albany of the AHL which would likely accelerate his progress.
Six 2000 draft choices plan on being in training camp, none of whom are even being considered for spots at this time. Still, defensemen Phil Cole and Deryk Engelland along with forwards Michael Rupp, Max Birbraer, Mike Jefferson and Warren McCutcheon hope to make a lasting impression on Coach Larry Robinson.
Of that group expect 6-5, 230 lb. Rupp to get a long look. 5-9, 190 lb. Jefferson will get some attention if only due to the fact that he is likely to start some skirmishes based on his abrasive style.
Training camp opens on September 8th at South Mountain Arena in West Orange, New Jersey. The first exhibition game vs. Pittsburgh is scheduled for September 16th in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.