Some New Blood For Devils Defense
After losing Vladimir Malakhov to free agency and Brad Bombardir to the expansion Wild, the New Jersey Devils have two openings on defense. They should have no problems filling those slots. Veteran Ken Sutton certainly will be given a shot to stay with the big club for the beginning of the 2000-2001 season. Sutton, once voted the best defenseman in the American Hockey League, has been up and down between New Jersey and Albany over the past couple of seasons and would appear to be a seventh defenseman or insurance policy rather than a top six guy. Willie Mitchell, the former Clarkson standout, can also be expected to make a run at a job in New Jersey. In his first full professional season Mitchell played solidly at Albany and also impressed the Devils in a two game stint in the NHL. In July the Devils added to their defensive depth by signing Swedish rearguard Josef Boumedienne along with North Dakota defenseman Mike Commodore. Both will be watched closely by the Devils’ hierarchy at training camp in September. Boumedienne, 6’1, 200 lbs., played for Tappara in the Finnish League over the past two seasons. New Jersey was so high on him that Boumedienne needed to be protected in June’s expansion draft after scoring 8 goals and 24 assists in 50 games last season.
The 6’4, 225 lb. Commodore led the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with 154 penalty minutes in 38 games for the Fighting Sioux in 1999-2000. The 20 year old helped lead North Dakota to the NCAA championship this past season. The Devils are notorious for moving defenseman along slowly to the NHL so don’t expect Commodore to be on the opening night roster. In all likelihood, it will be Mitchell and Boumedienne fighting it out for the job as sixth defenseman in New Jersey.