Rookie defenseman Alexander Urbom, who the Devils drafted in the third round, 73rd overall, in June will be in the lineup for the team in its preseason opener Wednesday night against the Rangers at Prudential Center.
Defenseman Mark Fraser will also play Wednesday.
"I know the kids Fraser and Urbom, I wanted to see them," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. "[Urbom] is only 18, but I think, like other guys, he's been good. He's a big kid (6-foot-4, 215) and he does a lot of good things and he's got good skills, so we'll see what he does in games."
It's interesting that Frasor will get to play because he never got a sniff of the NHL preseason last year when Brent Sutter was the head coach.
Urbom confirmed to me that he signed an entry level contract (three years) with the Devils, "about five days ago." He'll make $590,000 in the first two years and $615,000 in the third for total of $1.795 million.
"It's going to be real exciting to play with the big guys, real fun," Urbom said.
If Urbom doesn't stick with the NHL team, he'll go play major junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said that Urbom is "scheduled to go to juniors", but would be eligible to go the AHL.
"No decision has been made," Lamorielo said.
Urbom admitted he was "a little bit" surprised that he's going to play in the team's first exhibition game..
"I'm not going to think too much about it, just try to my best and work hard," Urbom said.
RW Niclas Bergfors, RW Ilklka Pikkarianen, C Patrice Cormirer and RW/LW Vladimir Zharkov will also get a look in the NHL exhibition for the Devils. The full lineup is below.
Lemaire wouldn't reveal the entire lineup, but we were able to piece it together. Goaltender Martin Brodeur will not play. Yann Danis said he would play half of the game. Lemaire would not confirm if rookie Jeff Frazee will play the other half, but that appears as if it will be the case.
"How we did this is I asked the assistants who we should try and Lou (Lamoriello) who we should play in the exhibition games so we can see them, if they can play, if they can make the team," Lemaire said.
Urbom has been taking the simple approach to camp and it's been working.
"I'm just trying to do my best and work as hard as I can, not think so much about (making thje team)," he said.
How has he impresed the coaches?
"I don't know," he said. "I'm trying to play tough and play hard, make the good first pass, just work hard and do my best."
Urbom played in the Swedish Elite League last season with Devils' 2009 first-round pick Jacob Josefson. Practicing with the NHL players has been a big step up, though.
"Of course, it's the the NHL guys and they're real quick," Urbom said. "Every player is so much better in all areas, so it's fun to play."
Urboms said having defenseman Johnny Oduya around has been helpful.
"Yeah, he's Swedish, so he helps me sometimes and explains some drills to me too," Urbom said. "(Assistant coach) Tommy Albelin too."
Urbom said he planned to come to North America to play major junior before the Devils drafted him. He's still a long shot to make the NHL team, but maybe his trip to Brandon might be delayed a little.
Here's the forwards and defensemen that will play Wednesday.
Forwards: Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Brendan Shanahan; Brian Rolston-Dainius Zubrus-Niclas Bergfors; Vladimir Zharkov-Patrice Cormier-David Clarkson; PLL Lebond-Rod Pelley-Illkka Pikkairainen.
Defensemen: Bryce Salvador-Cory Murphy; Mike Mottau-Johnny Oduya; Mark Fraser-Alexander Urbom.
What would Lemaire like to see from players in the preseason opener?
"What we've been practicing," Lemaire said. 'We want to be fast. We want to be excellent on [creating] turnovers. We want to have puck control and we want to play in the other team's end. It's easier."
Lemaire said players in the second group today would still get a chance to practice and play with the NHL players.
"In the next two days, we will get guys in the second group [in with the first]," Lemaire said.
Lemaire liked what he saw from morning group today.
"They worked well today," he said. "When you have all of the kids, you don't really see your team. And the second day we had the NHL players together, so we could see it a little more. And now we have all of them [together] today. So, now you start to have a little idea of how it's going to [look]."
Although Shanahan was with Parise and Zajac again today, Lemaire said again that Jamie Langenbrunner will go back to playing on his old line eventually.
"The lines that were really good last year, you know what? They will be the same lines this year," Lemaire said. "And if they're not good, then they won't be the same lines."
Lemaire on the difference between the Devils and the players he had in Minnesota: "I think the puck the control is better [with the Devils]. I haven't looked at the defensemen the difference, but I know the forwards here, I think they're better with the puck. They use each other better. We had one line that was good at it in Minny. Here, from what I see, we've got two lines that are good and we've got a kid line that is doing well."
The kid line Lemaire was referring to was the line of Zharkov, Patrice Cormier and David Clarkson.
"The line is going well," Lemaire said. "It's a good line. But, again, everything could go down the drain tomorow night."