What’s next for the Devils’ offseason?

The Vegas expansion draft has come and gone (the Devils lost D Jon Merrill). The 2017 NHL Entry-Level Draft is complete (the Devils selected C Nico Hischier first overall). You might be thinking, that’s it, right? How much more could there be possibly be going on? A lot, actually.

Let’s start with the big one: free agency. That fun period of time every hockey offseason where your teams get shuffled around one at a time. Players who don’t want to stay with their organization end up leaving. Some players sign with rival teams. Some players go somewhere else for the money. It’s a business. Things happen.

First and foremost, the Devils have a list of free agents that they may or may not extend qualifying offers to (or resign). Their only three unrestricted free agents are G Keith Kinkaid, F Luke Gazdic, and D Yohann Auvitu.

Kinkaid is a little tricky because he might want to test the waters and sign with a different team (if he wants to be a starting goaltender somewhere else). I’d like to see Auvitu resigned as well; why bring him to North America for a single year and only play a certain number of games?

New Jersey also has a host of restricted free agents: forwards Beau Bennett, Joseph Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Jacob Josefson, Stefan Noesen, Blake Pietila, Kevin Rooney, and Ben Thomson; defensemen Mirco Mueller and Damon Severson; and goaltender Scott Wedgewood. Yesterday, the Devils extended qualifying offers to Blandisi, Coleman, Noesen, Pietila, Rooney, Thomson, Severson, Wedgewood, and Vojtech Mozik, and I wrote about that here.

I’d like to see the Devils resign Bennett, Blandisi, Noesen, Severson, Mueller, and Wedgewood. Severson is a no-brainer. I also don’t see the point in protecting Mueller during the expansion draft if they’re not going to sign him to a contract. Additionally, Wedgewood should be resigned no matter what. If Kinkaid chooses not to resign with the Devils, the team needs a viable backup option. Even though Wedgewood’s coming off of a season-ending injury, he’s a great goaltender and has a future in the NHL.

In addition to resigning a few free agents, GM Ray Shero is ready to sign a few others from outside the organization. The Devils definitely need a puck-moving, top-pairing defenseman and there isn’t a huge market for them right now. A trade wouldn’t be out of the question. Some more offense wouldn’t hurt either.

In general, the free agent market isn’t huge right now but quality over quantity. Shero also shouldn’t sign anyone for the sake of signing someone and he knows that.

Speaking of free agents, Ilya Kovalchuk is still slated to make his return to the NHL after spending the last five (six?) seasons in the KHL. And even though there have been rumors of him returning during every offseason since he left, these are more concrete. The Devils do have to sign-and-trade him if they decide that they don’t want to keep him on the team. They could definitely use his offense but he wants to win a Cup and the team is a few years away from being true contenders.

It does seem likely that he’ll stay in the Eastern Conference. He’s mentioned wanting to go to New York or Florida and while I highly doubt that the Devils would trade with the Rangers (or even the Islanders), it’s still a possibility. There’s also the possibility that the Devils have already made a verbal agreement with a team to trade him, which seems the most likely to me. Teams can negotiate all this week and then they can officially sign someone or trade for someone on Saturday.

Whatever happens is a win-win situation for the Devils. If they keep him, fine. They’ll get more offense. If they trade him, they’ll get picks/prospects/players in return. It’s going to be a long summer for the Devils in terms of free agency.

During the second week of July, New Jersey will hold its annual prospect development camp and it’ll be our first chance to see all of their newest draft picks in action, as well as prospects from years prior. It’s a week-long, five-day camp from July 10-14 (I think). They’ll get to bond and meet each other, as well as get to know the area and the organization.

The Devils have also started doing events for fans throughout the summer. Last year, they held the annual Devils Beach Bash in Point Pleasant, NJ by Jenkinson’s (on the boardwalk). Miles Wood and Joseph Blandisi were in attendance alongside former Devils players. This year’s second annual Beach Bash will be on Saturday, August 19th. For more information on that, you can click here. I’ll try and keep you posted on other events as well.

And before you know it, September will arrive and so will training camp. Next season should be exciting but the Devils have plenty of work to do during the offseason before then.

Devils Extend Qualifying Offers To 6 Forwards, 2 Defensemen, 1 Goaltender

5PM EST was the deadline for every NHL team to extend qualifying offers to their (restricted and unrestricted) free agents and the New Jersey Devils were no exception. They announced their QOs a while after 5PM but they had no surprises. They extended qualifying offers to forwards Joseph Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Stefan Noesen, Blake Pietila, Kevin Rooney, and Ben Thomson; defensemen Damon Severson and Vojtech Mozik; and goaltender Scott Wedgewood.

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There are no surprises here. Their biggest concern was resigning Severson. I’m happy that Blandisi, Noesen, and Wedgewood both received qualifying offers as well.

Defenseman Mirco Mueller, acquired in a trade with the Sharks last weekend, did receive a qualifying offer from San Jose and the Devils don’t plan on changing that. He’ll likely be resigned; why trade picks for someone who’s not going to play with the organization? So I wouldn’t worry about him.

You might also be wondering: where is Beau Bennett? He didn’t receive a QO but I wouldn’t worry about him too much either. I don’t think GM Ray Shero is going to just let him walk; they’re likely just negotiating a new contract. I want him to stick around (his social media presence would be missed terribly).

Goaltender Keith Kinkaid, an unrestricted free agent, didn’t receive one either, and neither did UFA Jacob Josefson. Kinkaid will likely test the waters of free agency. As much as I would love for him to stay in New Jersey, he’s only going to be a backup goalie here. If he wants to be a starter, he’ll have to look for a job elsewhere but there aren’t many teams in the market for a starting goaltender.

I had a feeling that the Devils would let Josefson walk as soon as his one-year contract expired; there are too many young, fast centers in the system now that are all competing for a limited number of spots. If he finds a home elsewhere, good. I hope he does well.

I’m surprised that the Devils made a qualifying offer to Mozik, mainly because he recently signed a contract to play in the KHL with Vityaz Podolsk, which is good for him. The Devils’ AHL affiliate is certainly lacking defensemen so this hurts a bit but who knows? They have defensive prospects in the system who could potentially make the jump.

I’m excited to see what kind of contract Severson gets because he’s been one of the most consistent blue liners on the team and I hope the contract is long-term. Blandisi and Noesen are both young, talented forwards who both have a lot to prove next season but could make a huge difference for the team provided that they stay up with New Jersey. Wedgewood, also, has a lot to prove. He missed most of last season in Albany (AHL) with an injury and returned for two games during the playoffs. He has to bounce back and if Kinkaid does leave and go elsewhere, Wedgewood becomes the backup.

Free agency (frenzy) officially begins this Saturday, July 1!

Introducing the New Jersey Devils’ 2017 Draft Class

With the 2017 NHL Entry-Level Draft officially complete, it’s time to take a look at the New Jersey Devils’ 2017 draft class. The Devils had 11 draft picks to start out with, then dropped to 10, and then ultimately finished the draft with 11 total picks after multiple trades with San Jose. They drafted three centers, four defensemen, two left wings, a right wing, and a goaltender. Just like last year’s draft class, they drafted someone from every position.

My initial thoughts: I really like what the Devils have done for the most part. Taking Nico at #1 overall was the way to go (even though I’d rather not see Nolan Patrick in a Flyers uniform). They still haven’t really addressed their giant, gaping hole at right wing but there’s room for a possible trade. I liked that they picked several defensive prospects to groom and hopefully bring up in a few years. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t pick too many North American players but I’m okay with it. I’m also a little surprised that they selected a goaltender but if they like him, why not?

The following is just a quick write-up on each draft pick; I’m going to try and do more in-depth write-ups throughout the summer, especially during rookie development camp in July, on each of them as I watch more footage. But here we go:

C Nico Hischier (Round 1 – 1st overall) – he doesn’t really need an introduction. Hischier (6′ 0″, 174 lbs) became the highest drafted Swiss player in NHL draft history on Friday night when the Devils took him first overall. I wrote a short draft profile a little while ago. He’s played just a year in the North American system, but averaged about 1.5 points per game. He looks poised to make the jump to the NHL level but unfortunately, there have been reports of Halifax wanting him back for another year (as well as SC Bern) and he may not be AHL-eligible for the upcoming year. Time will tell where he ends up but when he does play for New Jersey, he’s going to have a huge impact. He’s fast, he can make difficult plays, he scores goals and sets them up, and he plays a strong defensive game. He’s a decent size but still wants to put on some more muscle, as well as continue to round out his defensive skill set. If he does play another year in juniors, fine (but I would prefer him to play with the Devils). Birthday: January 4, Twitter handle: @nicohischier

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C Jesper Boqvist (Round 2 – 36th overall) – this Swedish 17-year old is one of the most underrated prospects in this entire draft class. He’s been up and down quite a bit but when he’s on, he’s on. I really like this pick for the Devils even though they have an abundance of centers. If it makes you feel any better, Boqvist has also played some wing. He still needs some further development and his size isn’t a major issue (5′ 11″, 175 lbs.). He’s slated to play for Brynäs IF (SHL) this upcoming season; he had seven points in 26 games with them last year and just one in ten games the year prior but he had a really good season with their J20 team. Birthday: October 30, Twitter handle: @jesperboqvist

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RW Fabian Zetterlund (Round 3 – 63rd overall) – Zetterlund is the second Swedish center that the Devils drafted and for good reason. His greatest asset is his shooting ability; he’s a dangerous sniper and a consistent offensive threat, which is great because the Devils need to learn how to shoot first and think later. He’s also still going to grow and progress in every other area; he’s a decent size as well. I’m looking forward to watching him play and develop. Birthday: August 25, Twitter handle: @FabianZetterlun

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D Reilly Walsh (Round 3 – 81st overall) – the Devils’ first North American draft pick is from New Hampshire. He’s played in the U.S. developmental system his entire life and is slated to play for Harvard (NCAA) in the fall. He’s a phenomenal skater and an offensively-minded blue liner; he’s a bit undersized for a defenseman but building more muscle won’t be a problem playing college hockey. He averaged 1.48 points per game in four years in the USHL but Harvard is a great program and Walsh has a bright future. Birthday: April 21, Twitter handle: @reilly_walsh2

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LW Nikita A. Popugayev (Round 4 – 98th overall) – ranked #20 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, I’m a little surprised that Popugayev fell to the Devils at #98. This Russian forward plays a decent all-around game and can put up the points; he’s compared his style to that of another famous Russian and three-time Stanley Cup champion, Evgeni Malkin. Popugayev has played the past two years in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Prince George Cougars, averaging 0.82 points per game. He’s a big forward at 6′ 5.5″ and 200 lbs. so his size isn’t a problem. I like this pick too because the Devils do need depth at wing and I believe he’s played both right and left wing. Birthday: November 20, Twitter handle: N/A

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G Gilles Senn (Round 5 – 129th overall) – I have to admit that I’m a little surprised the Devils selected a goaltender but if they like him, I do too. His numbers over the past few years aren’t that bad. Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid aren’t getting any younger but the organization does have good, solid defensive prospects in the system. Senn is also Swiss, and has played in the Swiss system and the NLA his entire career, and was an NLA champ in 2014-15 with HC Davos. He’s slated to play another year with the club on an extension. Senn is also 21, not 18, and he’s a pretty decent size as well. He could also be someone that the Devils take a serious look at in the future. Birthday: March 1, Twitter handle: @GillesSenn

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LW Marián Studenič (Round 5 – 143rd overall) – this winger from Slovakia is also a good choice for the Devils. He’s played both left and right wing in his career. He’s played just one year in the North American system with the Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) but he adjusted well. He’s a good, fast skater and can handle the puck well but does need to add to his size and is just okay defensively. Birthday: October 28, Twitter handle: @Studa_19

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C Aarne Talvitie (Round 6 – 160th overall) – I like him. I know he’s a center but I like him. This Finnish prospect is a Penn State (NCAA) commit for the 2018-19, which should be good for him; I never like saying anything good about Penn State (I’m a Rutgers student) but they have a great up-and-coming hockey program and it could do wonders for Talvitie’s development. His immediate future is a little unclear; he could decide to go back to Finland or play for Penn State a year early. He was ranked #58 among European skaters and plays an all-around game; he does have plenty of room to improve so Penn State, again, is a good option for him. Birthday: February 11, Twitter handle: @AarneTalvitie

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D Jocktan Chainey (Round 7 – 191st overall) – I like his bow tie so he’s a good pick already. Another defenseman!! Chainey joins fellow Moosehead Hischier on the Devils and is just the second North American to be taken by the team. He’s played two years in the QMJHL, averaging about 0.42 points per game (for a blue liner). He’s a big, strong defenseman who should use his size to his advantage more often. He’s offensively-minded but could be a better skater; he could also use a bit more development. But if you’re going to watch Hischier highlights, watch Chainey too. Birthday: September 8, Twitter handle: N/A

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D Yegor Zaitsev (Round 7 – 205th overall) – this is the second year in a row that the Devils have taken a defenseman named Yegor so if you’re placing any bets for next year’s draft, this would be a good one. He also has no relation to current Maple Leaf Nikita Zaitsev. Yegor was not ranked this year but was #34 among European skaters for last year’s draft. I haven’t heard too much about him but he’s a decent-sized defenseman who has the ability to chip in offensively. He’s played in the Russian system for the past few years; he was a VHL champion last year and is slated to play another year with the Dynamo Moskva in the KHL this upcoming season. Birthday May 3, Twitter handle: N/A

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D Matthew Hellickson (Round 7 – 214th overall) – with the their third and final seventh round pick, the Devils picked their third straight and fourth overall defenseman in this year’s draft. He’s friends with current Devils prospect and 2016 draft pick Joey Anderson; they’ve played for the U.S. National Team together. Hellickson spent last year in the USHL with the Sioux City Musketeers, picking up 29 points in 65 games. He’s also NCAA-bound; he’ll play for the University of Notre Dame in the fall. Birthday: March 21, Twitter handle: @Helli_12

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And there you have it! A draft-class round-up that’s only a day late. There will plenty more coverage this week, especially with impending free agency. Where will Ilya Kovalchuk end up? Will the Devils sign anyone soon? Who are they offering new contracts too? Rookie development camp also takes place mid-July. I’ll take a look at the upcoming season’s (potential) roster and games to look forward to, plus much more.

2017 NHL Entry-Level Draft: First-Round Draft Selections

Round one of the 2017 NHL Entry-Level Draft is complete. Every single NHL team’s selection(s) is (are) listed below as well as any trades that may have occurred during the show itself.

  1. New Jersey Devils – C Nico Hischier
  2. Philadelphia Flyers – C Nolan Patrick
  3. Dallas Stars – D Miro Heiskanen
  4. Colorado Avalanche – D Cale Makar
  5. Vancouver Canucks – C Elias Pettersson
  6. Vegas Golden Knights – C Cody Glass
  7. New York Rangers (from ARI) – C Lias Andersson
  8. Buffalo Sabres – C Casey Mittelstadt
  9. Detroit Red Wings – RW Owen Tippett
  10. Florida Panthers – C Michael Rasmussen
  11. Los Angeles Kings – C Gabriel Vilardi
  12. Carolina Hurricanes – C Martin Necas
  13. Vegas Golden Knights (from WPG) – C Nick Suzuki
  14. Tampa Bay Lightning – D Callan Foote
  15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NYI) – D Erik Brannstrom
  16. Calgary Flames – D Juuso Välimäki
  17. Toronto Maple Leafs – D Timothy Liljegren
  18. Boston Bruins – D Urho Vaakanainen
  19. San Jose Sharks – C Josh Norris
  20. St. Louis Blues – C Robert Thomas
  21. New York Rangers – C Filip Chytil
  22. Edmonton Oilers – RW Kailer Yamamoto
  23. Arizona Coyotes (from MIN) – D Pierre-Olivier Joseph
  24. Winnipeg Jets (from CBJ via VGK) – LW/RW Kristian Vesalainen
  25. Montréal Canadiens – C Ryan Poehling
  26. Dallas Stars (from CHI) – G Jake Oettinger
  27. Philadelphia Flyers (from WSH via STL) – C Morgan Frost
  28. Ottawa Senators – C Shane Bowers
  29. Chicago Blackhawks (from ANA via DAL) – D Henri Jokiharju
  30. Nashville Predators – RW Eeli Tolvanen
  31. St. Louis Blues (from PIT) – LW/C Klim Kostin

The first trade of the night: the Stars traded their 29th overall pick and 70th overall pick to Chicago for the 26th overall pick.

Second: the Blues traded their 27th overall pick, a 2018 conditional draft pick, and center Jori Lehtera to Philadelphia for defenseman Brayden Schenn.

Third: the Blues trade Ryan Reaves and their 51st overall pick to the Penguins for Oskar Sundqvist and the 31st overall pick.

Don’t forget to tune in all day tomorrow to find out the rest of the draft selections! Round two starts at 10AM EST on NHL Network.

The New Jersey Devils Select Nico Hischier First Overall

Okay let me catch my breath.

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Okay that’s not happening. Let me try again.

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Nope.

I’ve been trying to write this post since the New Jersey Devils announced that they were selecting C Nico Hischier first overall in the 2017 NHL Entry-Level Draft but it just hasn’t happened because I’m trying to catch my breath in between wiping my tears. I am so sorry. Not really.

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Umm wow? The Devils select center Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) with the first overall pick of the 2017 NHL Entry-Level Draft (take a shot every time I say this). Hischier is now the highest drafted Switzerland-born player in NHL draft history.

I had written a week ago about the Nico/Nolan debate and ultimately decided that the Devils would go with Nico but the decision was a tough one. I’ve been flip-flopping since the Devils won the draft lottery but ultimately, no matter who the Devils chose (be it Nolan or Nico), I would have been happy. They’re both phenomenal hockey players and people, and they both have so much to bring to their teams.

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With that said, I am ecstatic that New Jersey selected Hischier. Here’s a draft profile that I wrote a few weeks ago on Hischier. I love what he brings to the table for the Devils because they don’t have a player like him.

Hischier has an elite skill set and hockey sense, and he plays an all-around game. He’s a great two-way forward with the ability to score goals and make impossible plays, and he plays a strong defensive game. He plays well in every. single. zone. He sees the ice really, really well and knows where the puck is going before it does. He’s a little on the small side which allows him to get into tight spaces but putting on some muscle this summer definitely wouldn’t hurt. He’s fast and the Devils need speed. He has the ability to become a top-line center and a game-changer.

He’s played just one season with the Mooseheads and the 2016-17 season was his first in North America but he made the adjustment pretty quickly and effectively. He played 57 games with the team and scored 86 points, averaging 1.5 points per game. He had 38 goals and 48 assists, so he can score goals and create them too. He finished with a +20 rating and 24 penalty minutes, and he had seven points in six playoff games.

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Only time will tell what type of player he becomes but I’m excited.

Welcome to New Jersey, Nico! We’re happy to have you here!

A Look At The Last 15 First Overall NHL Draft Picks

The New Jersey Devils have the first overall pick at the 2017 NHL Entry-Level Draft for the first time in team history so I thought it would be fun to take a look at the last few first overall picks in a “where are they now?”-type post. Enjoy!

2016: Auston Matthews – let’s start with the most recent #1 overall pick, Mr. Auston “I scored four goals in my NHL debut and I’m literally better than all of you” Matthews. Toronto finished dead-last in the league during the 2015-16 season and actually managed to win the draft lottery; there was no way that they weren’t taking Matthews first overall. He had a super impressive rookie season, breaking several Maple Leafs rookie records; he had 69 points (nice) (40 goals, 29 assists) in 82 regular season games (he played every single game possible in his first season if his numbers weren’t impressive enough) and tallied five points in six playoff games. He helped the Leafs return to the postseason and gave fans something to cheer about. To top off his rookie campaign, he won the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) at the NHL Awards last night but it certainly won’t be his last award. He has such an unbelievably bright future ahead of him.

2015: Connor McDavid – your NHL18 cover star is one of the best players in the entire world and he’s only 20. He makes me feel beyond inadequate but that’s okay. His first NHL season was shortened due to injuries but he still managed to score 48 points in 45 games; not bad, eh? During the offseason, he was named Captain of the Oilers and in his first full season with the team, scored 100 points in 82 regular season games, successfully winning the Art Ross Trophy for the league’s top scorer (beating out both Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane, who had 89 points each). Crosby might be the best player in the world right now but McDavid’s right there with him. He also won the Hart Trophy (league MVP) and the Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player as determined by the NHLPA) this year, and is a three-time gold medalist. But despite all of this, he is still one of the most humble and modest guys in the league. He also has a very, very bright future.

2014: Aaron Ekblad – Ekblad is one of the few bright spots of Florida’s future and has quickly become one of the league’s best defensemen. He can definitely bring the offense if he needs to but he’ll be a key piece for the Panthers going forward. He participated in the 2015 All-Star Game and won the Calder Trophy that same year, and last summer, he signed an eight-year contract extension with the Panthers. He’s definitely someone you should be paying attention to if you’re a hockey fan.

2013: Nathan MacKinnon – MacKinnon has been one of the Colorado’s best and most exciting players to watch. He’s hopefully going to help the Avs reach the playoffs again and not finish towards the bottom of the league. In 2014, he won the Calder Trophy and was named to the NHL All-Rookie team. After playing three years with the Avalanche on an entry-level contract, he signed a 7-year, $44.1 million contract last summer and was named an alternate captain a few months later.

This past season, he played all 82 games for the second time in his career and tallied 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists), and played in the NHL All-Star Game for the first time. MacKinnon has 206 career points (75 goals, 131 assists) in exactly 300 games played and with a better supporting cast, could make a huge difference for the franchise.

2012: Nail Yakupov – ah, another #1 Edmonton overall pick and one who is no longer with the team. After his entry-level contract expired, he signed a 2-year deal with the Oilers who then traded him a year later to the Blues. He is currently a restricted free agent. His stats aren’t great (which is probably why the Oilers traded him) but he’s not a bad player albeit a little underwhelming for a #1 overall pick. Which is fine, because not every #1 overall pick is going to be a franchise-changer the way McDavid and Matthews are. Moving on…

2011: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – another #1 overall pick for the Oilers and the second of three in a row. He’s been one of Edmonton’s most beloved players and fun fact, he scored his first career hat trick in his third NHL game (even though the Oilers still lost the game, unsurprisingly). He was nominated for the Calder Trophy in 2012 but Gabe Landeskog was the eventual winner (Adam Henrique was the other nominee). In 2013, he signed a 7-year extension with the Oilers, worth $42 million and he played in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game. He’s been a pretty consistent player but he’s had his cold streaks.

Although Nugent-Hopkins is still with the team, he may not be for much longer. He’s been the subject of trade rumors for a while now and upper management is listening to offers from other teams. I would suggest that the Devils make an offer to Edmonton for RNH but they already have one of Edmonton’s first overall picks.

2010: Taylor Hall – which brings us to Taylor Hall, the first of three straight first overall picks for Edmonton and quite possibly my favorite (and no, it’s not just because he’s a Devil although that helps). The cards he’s been dealt haven’t been great. He was drafted by a franchise who was going through a rebuild at the time and as soon as they come out of it, they trade him to a franchise who’s just entering one. Talk about timing.

Hall’s been one of the most offensive players on every single team he’s been on and he had to carry the Oilers while he was there. Hopefully he doesn’t have to carry the Devils now. He has 381 points in 453 GP and has only played a complete NHL season once (2015-16). And despite playing seven NHL seasons, he has never played in the postseason (sorry, buddy). I don’t have enough good things to say about him (although I might be a little biased).

2009: John Tavares – as a Devils fan, I don’t like Tavares. I hate when the team plays against him and the Islanders because he’s good. He’s had buzz surrounding him even before he was selected in the draft and he’s had a great career with the Islanders so far. He was named the 14th Captain of the team in 2013. He helped the Islanders win their first playoff series since 1993 in 2016 when they defeated the Panthers in Game 6 in overtime. He scored his 500th NHL point this past January and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. He has just a year left on his current contract but I’m sure the Isles are itching to sign him to a new one.

2008: Steven Stamkos – he signed an eight-year, $68 million contract last year with the Lightning, the team that originally drafted him, so that’s a great indication that he’s been good for the organization. He’s been plagued with injuries the last few years and played just 17 games during the 2016-17 season but he’ll return and take the league by storm. He’s a two-time Maurice Richard trophy winner (league’s top goal-scorer in 2010 and 2012), he was named to the NHL’s Second-Team All Star team in 2011 and 2012, and has played in four All-Star Games (2011, 2012, 2015, and 2016). He’s pretty much a point per game player: he has 582 points in 586 career games. So yeah, he’s also pretty good.

2007: Patrick Kane – there’s a reason Chicago picked Kane first overall and he’s delivered everything to Chicago. He helped Chicago win three Stanley Cups in just six years (2010, 2013, 2015); he won the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) in 2013; and won the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy, and the Ted Lindsay Award in 2016. He was the first U.S.-born player to win the Hart and the first to win the Art Ross. He was named to the NHL Top 100 earlier this year and it’s hard to imagine Kane playing for any other franchise; the Blues tried to trade their 9th, 24th, and 26th overall picks for the first overall selection in 2007 in order to draft him. He’s become synonymous with the Blackhawks organization and has become one of the most recognized players in the world.

2006: Erik Johnson – Johnson was drafted first overall by the Blues in 2006. After playing out his three-year, entry-level contract, he signed a two-year contract with St. Louis but he was traded not too long after to the Avalanche where he’s played the rest of his career up until now. In 2015, he signed a seven-year contract extension with the Avs; he is one of the highest paid defensemen in the league and the highest paid player on the Avs. He’s never played a complete NHL season and hasn’t produced much offensively but he’s been a decent defenseman for Colorado.

2005: Sidney Crosby – can I skip both Crosby and Ovechkin? Doesn’t everyone already know who they are and what they’ve done? Is this super unprofessional of me right now? Okay fine. Crosby is arguably the best hockey player in the world and he’s the face of the NHL. He’s won three Stanley Cups (2009, 2016, 2017), including two back-to-back; he holds a number of NHL records; he’s won the Art Ross trophy twice (leading scorer) (2007, 2014); he’s won the Maurice Richard trophy twice (top goal-scorer) (2010, 2017); he’s won the Ted Lindsay award (best player as voted by peers) three times (2007, 2013, 2014); the Hart trophy (league MVP) twice (2007, 2014); and the Conn Smythe trophy (playoff MVP) twice (2016, 2017). He captains the Penguins and has captained Team Canada; he’s also a five-time gold medalist. Are you exhausted yet? Me too. Crosby is just too good at what at he does and whether or not you like him, you have to admit that he plays the game at the highest level possible, night in and night out.

2004: Alexander Ovechkin – Ovechkin might go down as one of the greatest NHLers to ever play the game without winning a Stanley Cup. I know that hockey is a team sport and it takes more than just one person to win a Cup (or even get that far) but if anyone deserves a Cup, it’s Ovechkin. The Captain of the Washington Capitals has been one of the organization’s brightest stars in franchise history. Offensively, he’s on another level. He’s won the Hart trophy three times (2008, 2009, 2013), the Ted Lindsay award three times (2008, 2009, 2010), the Art Ross trophy once (2008), the Maurice Richard trophy six times (2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), and the Calder trophy in 2006. He also holds several NHL records and is a four-time gold medalist. His hockey resume is super impressive; he just needs a Cup now.

2003: Marc-André Fleury – the Penguins’ second #1 overall pick in within three years is no longer a Pittsburgh Penguin. He was selected during the Vegas expansion draft and will play with the NHL’s newest franchise for at least next season. He has been one of the best goaltenders in the league as long as he’s been in it. It’s hard to judge goaltenders by their stats because those reflect the teams in front of them as much as they reflect them individually but it’s hard to argue when you watch him play. He’s a three-time Stanley Cup champion and played a big role in all three Cup wins.

2002: Rick Nash – Nash was drafted first overall by the Blue Jackets in 2002 and spent the first nine years of his career with them. His last season with them (2011-12) was the first and only time he’s played a complete 82 games. Nash helped the Jackets reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2008-09, despite getting swept by the Red Wings in four games. Columbus’s 2011-12 season got off to a really bad start and during the offseason, Nash was traded to the Rangers and has been with them ever since. He’s an alternate captain for the team and has produced offensively and defensively for them; he’s been one of their most consistent players. While he may be on a decline, he may still have a few years left.

And there you have it, a brief look back at the last 15 first overall picks. Funnily enough, I chose 15 because it was a decent number to handle but in my research, the first overall pick the year before Rick Nash was Ilya Kovalchuk so I’m glad I decided to not do any more than 15.

A good majority of these first overall picks are now household names: Kane, Crosby, Ovechkin, Hall, Stamkos, Tavares, and now McDavid and Matthews. They’re all some of the best players in the world and deserved to go first overall. And while it’s way too early to start making comparisons between either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier and their predecessors, the Devils should be comforted by the fact that they’re getting an excellent hockey player.

2017 NHL Entry-Level Mock Draft: First-Round

This year’s NHL Entry-Level Draft takes place in Chicago from June 23-24, 2017. The biggest story is who the New Jersey Devils will select first overall, mainly because no one can come to a consensus. Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier? Might as well flip a coin. I have a post about who I think the Devils might pick (versus who I want them to pick).

As a Devils fan, I know who I want them to pick even though I’m torn over the decision. My head and my heart are essentially in the same place; both Nolan and Nico are good choices and they both have the ability to become the top line center the Devils need. Unless something drastically changes within the next couple of weeks, New Jersey is going to take one of them, and Philadelphia (unfortunately) is likely to pick the other unless they decide to trade the pick.

I’ve been working on this mock draft for weeks. The amount of times I’ve redone it is ridiculous so I thought I would wait until after the Vegas expansion draft so that I can incorporate the actual draft order. Vegas has three first-round picks, one of their own and two acquired via trades; all three picks are in the Top 15. They were very, very busy Wednesday night and yesterday.

Today was also a super busy day around the NHL; there have been multiple trades thus far and this mock draft has been updated accordingly. The draft order is current as of 1:30PM EST and won’t be updated after because this would never get posted. But let’s move on.

Here is who I think the 31 NHL teams will select in the first round of the 2017 Entry-Level Draft barring any unforeseen trades:

  1. New Jersey Devils – C Nico Hischier. I wrote about the Devils’ first overall pick selection yesterday and here’s a short draft profile. This was a really close decision and I’m still on the borderline but I think Nico fits into the bigger picture better. The Devils don’t currently have someone like him on the team.
  2. Philadelphia Flyers – C Nolan Patrick. The Flyers have an easy decision: just pick whoever New Jersey doesn’t. If the Devils could pick both Nolan and Nico, I would want them to. The decision between Nico and Nolan is made that much harder because the Flyers end up with whoever the Devils don’t select.
  3. Dallas Stars – C Gabe Vilardi. I really like what Vilardi brings to the table and he had a great 2016-17 season with the Windsor Spitfires, resulting in a Memorial Cup win. Dallas needs a young, fast center and Vilardi is just that. He has the ability to step in right away and have an immediate impact if he makes the team straight out of training camp.
  4. Colorado Avalanche – D Miro Heiskanen. The Avs need young defensemen and Heiskanen is the best defensive prospect in the draft. I don’t think they’ll pass up on him if Dallas decides not to take him.
  5. Vancouver Canucks – C Casey Mittelstadt. The Canucks have a ton of depth at center but young, fast, centers who are as offensive as Mittelstadt is are hard to come by. Their current centers aren’t getting any younger and Mittelstadt can help down the middle. Even if he plays this upcoming season at the Univ of Minnesota (NCAA), he’ll be better for it when he does crack the Canucks’ lineup.
  6. Vegas Golden Knights – C Cody Glass. As of right now, the Golden Knights have more than enough depth at every single position but their roster right now won’t be their roster in a day, or in a week, or a few weeks from now. They would be wise to just take whoever they can in the first round at a variety of positions. With their first of three first-round picks, I think they’ll go center.
  7. New York Rangers (from ARI) – C Elias Pettersson. With their first first-round pick since 2012 (Brady Skjei), there is no doubt in my mind that they’ll go center. They already traded center Derek Stepan so their only true centers left are Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes so unlike most other teams that have a ton of centers, the Rangers don’t have enough. Pettersson has a really good chance of cracking the lineup straight out of training camp but could use some more conditioning.
  8. Buffalo Sabres – RW Owen Tippett. The Sabres have plenty of defensemen, especially with the addition of Nate Beaulieu, otherwise I would suggested a blueliner but the Sabres need depth at winger and Tippett offers just that. He’s had plenty of success with the Mississauga Steelheads and could do really well with a young(ish) team like Buffalo.
  9. Detroit Red Wings – LW/C Klim Kostin. The Red Wings definitely need to get better up front but they have plenty of centers (otherwise I’d suggest that). This might be a pick that’s a little “out there” but I guess we’ll find out what they decide to do tonight. Kostin is a great winger who’s listed as a LW/C by the NHL Central Scouting and a RW otherwise so no matter what he plays, he’ll bring plenty of depth to Detroit.
  10. Florida Panthers – C Michael Rasmussen. The Panthers also really, really need more depth up front and they’re in a similar spot to the Red Wingers but I think they’ll actually pick center. The ones that they currently have in the organization are getting older, and Rasmussen brings both speed and ability to the lineup.
  11. Los Angeles Kings – D Cale Makar. The Kings could use a young defenseman in their lineup even though he probably won’t play with the team for a year or so unless he has a really good offseason and training camp. He’s a decent size too but he’ll put on some weight when he plays for UMass Lowell in the fall. I could see the Kings bringing him up for a few games just to see how he adjusts and how he plays.
  12. Carolina Hurricanes – RW Eeli Tolvanen. The Canes could really use a right-winger. They’ve been a little active with trades as of late but they haven’t found a true right winger yet; the only ones in their lineup are Sebastian Aho and Lee Stempniak. So the Canes could use a RW and I think they’ll take Tolvanen. Even if he needs some extra time, he’ll be ready to join the team soon enough.
  13. Vegas Golden Knights (from WPG) – D Juuso Välimäki. Välimäki is a big, strong defenseman and I think Vegas will decide to go defense with their second first-round pick. He’d be a great addition to their lineup and could be used as trade bait if they decide not to keep him around. There’s always the possibility that Välimäki might decide to return to Finland to play hockey as well.
  14. Tampa Bay Lightning – D Nicolas Hague. The Lightning could use depth pretty much everywhere but if Hague is still here at #14, I think they’ll take him. He’s a big, skilled defenseman who has the potential to become a top-pairing defenseman. Imagine Hague and Victor Hedman together.
  15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NYI) – LW/RW Kristian Vesalainen. So far, according to my mock draft, the Golden Knights have gone center and defenseman so now I think they’ll go wing and Vesalainen is just that, a superb winger. Again, there’s a possibility that he won’t immediately sign an entry-level contract but if he does, he has the potential of being an excellent winger soon.
  16. Calgary Flames – C Martin Necas. It’s hard to decide what position the Flames are going to take and I’m still not sure they’ll go center but if they do, Necas is a great option. He still needs to build some more muscle but he’s a great offensive player and should bring (more) energy and speed to the Flames lineup.
  17. Toronto Maple Leafs – D Timothy Liljegren. He’s a fantastic defenseman and while the Leafs do have depth at the blue line, Liljegren can help out tremendously. He’s had a bit of an up-and-down last few seasons but when he’s been on, he’s been on. If the Leafs do decide to trade a defenseman or two, Liljegren should be able to step up when the time comes.
  18. Boston Bruins – LW Jason Robertson. The Bruins need a left wing. Robertson is a left wing. It fits. Whether or not they actually do this remains to be seen. They did lose defenseman Colin Miller to Vegas so they could go that route too but I don’t know. I really don’t know. Boston is always an enigma to me.
  19. San Jose Sharks – D Callan Foote. The Sharks could use either a winger or a defenseman but with Foote still on the board, I think they’ll choose him. He’s a great defenseman who’s going to continue to develop with time. San Jose needs a young, quick defenseman and Foote fits that bill.
  20. St. Louis Blues – C Nick Suzuki. The Blues could use a center and while Suzuki may not be NHL-ready for at least another year, St. Louis needs to develop a young, fast center who could become their top line center down the road.
  21. New York Rangers – C Ryan Poehling. He’s smart and has great vision, and fills another glaring hole for the Rangers. Even though they hypothetically picked center already, I think they’ll pick another one.
  22. Edmonton Oilers – C Shane Bowers. The Oilers might trade a center (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and are open to trading another (Leon Draisaitl) so is it likely that they’ll pick a center if either one of those deals goes down? Yes. And Bowers is a great center even if he won’t play right away.
  23. Arizona Coyotes (from MIN) – G Jake Oettinger. I really don’t know what Arizona is doing, like, at all. They’ve made several trades and still somehow have a first-round pick. They traded away Mike Smith and received Chad Johnson in return, and they traded for Derek Stepan and Anti Raanta this morning. Both Johnson and Raanta are goalies, and Raanta will likely be their starting goaltender, barring any unforeseen changes. However, Arizona needs to develop a young goaltender who can potentially carry the franchise in the future.
  24. Winnipeg Jets (from CBJ via VGK) – RW Kailer Yamamoto. The Jets need a right wing and after trading away their original first-round pick to Vegas, they now pick at #24, a pick that came to them from Vegas, who had it because of Columbus. Winnipeg could really use a true right wing and if not now, in the future.
  25. Montréal Canadiens – C Lias Andersson. The Habs need defense and centers, and if they do end up trading Alex Galchenyuk, a center, they’ll need to draft another one and Andersson is the way to go at #25. He’s a skilled two-way forward and there’s no limit to what he could do with some more development and growth.
  26. Chicago Blackhawks – D Henri Jokiharju. Chicago is another organization who’s making decisions that don’t make any sense to me right now but the Blackhawks’ blue line is getting older. They traded away D Niklas Hjalmarsson this morning in exchange for a younger defenseman in Connor Murphy and if they’re focused on upgrading their blue line, they’ll pick another defenseman here too.
  27. St. Louis Blues (from WSH) – D Urho Vaakainen. According to my mock draft, the Blues have already picked a skilled, strong center so I think they’ll upgrade the blue line with this pick from the Capitals. Vaakainen needs some conditioning and further development but he should be able to step up when he’s called up to the big show.
  28. Ottawa Senators – LW Isaac Ratcliffe. He’s a big, strong, skilled forward who knows how to score and knows what’s going on on the ice. The Sens need more of that up front and their current left wings are aging. Ratcliffe brings speed and energy.
  29. Dallas Stars (from ANA) – D Conor Timmins. The Stars’ second first-round pick comes courtesy of the Ducks, via the Patrick Eaves trade. Dallas already picked their power forward with the third overall pick so they’ll go defense now. Timmins is a great defenseman and should be a good upgrade for Dallas’s blue line.
  30. Nashville Predators – RW Kole Lind. The Preds have plenty of depth across the board in a lineup that helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history but if they had to pick a position, it would be right wing. They currently have Craig Smith, P.A. Parenteau, and Miikka Salomaki as true RWs on the roster and Lind would be a great addition.
  31. Pittsburgh Penguins – C Robert Thomas. It’s hard to imagine the defending, back-to-back Stanley Cup Champs needing anyone or any one position but here we are. They could theoretically pick anyone; I just have a feeling that they’ll take a center to help up front when the time comes.

And there you have it, my 2017 mock draft. It took weeks to put together, and it’s been edited and changed and altered more times than I care to admit but this is it.

Don’t forget to tune in tonight to NBCSN and Sportsnet at 7PMEST to find out who the Devils take first overall (Nico or Nolan?) and who else gets picked in the first round!

A Look Back at The 2007 NHL Entry-Level Draft, 10 Years Later

The 2007 NHL Entry-Level Draft took place at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH from June 22-23, 2007; it was the 45th NHL Entry Draft in league history. As is now familiar to us, round one of the draft was held on the first with rounds two through seven on the second.

This marked the first time in NHL history that the top two picks were both American with Patrick Kane (CHI) selected first overall and James van Riemsdyk (PHI) selected second overall. This is also tied a record for most Americans selected in the first round (10).

I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the draft 10 years later to see where the first-round selections are and any of the notable late-round picks. You might be surprised to see how many current Penguins are on this list.

First-Round:
1) Patrick Kane (CHI) – there’s a reason Chicago picked Kane first overall and he’s delivered everything to Chicago. He helped Chicago win three Stanley Cups in just six years (2010, 2013, 2015); he won the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) in 2013; and won the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy, and the Ted Lindsay Award in 2016. He was the first U.S.-born player to win the Hart and the first to win the Art Ross. He was named to the NHL Top 100 earlier this year and it’s hard to imagine Kane playing for any other franchise; the Blues tried to trade their 9th, 24th, and 26th overall picks for the first overall selection in 2007 in order to draft him.
Career NHL numbers: 285 G, 467 A, 752 P (740 GP)

2) James van Riemsdyk (PHI) – Van Riemsdyk had an impressive rookie campaign with the Flyers in 2009-10; he scored his first NHL point against the Hurricanes and scored his first goal against the Panthers. He helped the Flyers change their fates during the 2010 postseason, after being down three games to none against the Bruins; he scored the game- and series-changing goal in game 4 to help the Flyers mount an improbable comeback. They would go on to the face the Blackhawks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, where they would fall in 10 games. In 2012, he was traded to the Maple Leafs for defenseman Luke Schenn and has been one of their best players the past few seasons; he helped Toronto get back to the playoffs this season and scored three points against the Capitals, who defeated them in six games.
Career NHL numbers: 165 G, 174 A, 339 P (528 GP)

3) Kyle Turris (PHX) – Turris was the top-ranked North American player at the time of the draft but fell to #3. Turris’s early time with Phoenix was a mess; he held out for the start of the 2011-12 season and failed to show up to training camp. The general consensus was that he wanted a trade and after signing a two-year deal, the Coyotes traded him to the Senators, where he’s been ever since. He had an impressive 2016-17 campaign with the Senators, topping it off with 10 points in 19 playoff games. He’s been a solid player for the Sens his entire career.
Career NHL numbers: 133 G, 178 A, 311 P (533 GP)

4) Thomas Hickey (LAK) – Hickey wasn’t one of the top-ranked skaters in the draft but the Kings still decided to take him #4 overall; I guess they saw something that they liked. He had a series of injuries at the beginning of his career and was later claimed off of waivers by the Islanders in January 2013; he’s played five seasons with the Isles now. Hickey has never topped more than 20 points in a single season and has only played one complete NHL season in his career (back in 2013-14). He had just 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) in 76 games played this past season.
Career NHL numbers: 17 G, 69 A, 86 P (340 GP)

5) Karl Alzner (WSH) – Alzner has spent his entire NHL career with the team that drafted him fifth overall back in 2007 and has been good for them. He may not be a super offensive forward but he’s been a constant presence in that locker room. He played all 82 games for each of the past four seasons and while he’s played nine seasons with the Caps, it’s time for him to move on. He did meet with Vegas this past week but did not sign a contract and will test free agency.
Career NHL numbers: 19 G, 98 A, 117 P (591 GP)

6) Sam Gagner (EDM) – Gagner has moved around quite a bit in his NHL career. After playing seven seasons for Edmonton, he was traded to the Lightning and then an hour later, was traded to the Coyotes back in 2014. He was then traded to the Flyers in 2015 and played a year for them and in 2016, signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jackets. He is currently a free agent as well.
Career NHL numbers: 142 G, 260 A, 402 P (696 GP)

7) Jakub Voráček (CBJ) – he spent his first three years in the NHL with the Blue Jackets until he was traded to the Flyers in 2011; he proceeded to sign a one-year deal and has been with the team ever since. He signed an eight-year, $66 million contract extension with Philly in 2015 and will likely end his career there (unless something drastic happens); he’s a Flyer for life. He’s been good for the team and for the fans.
Career NHL numbers: 155 G, 333 A, 488 P (686 P)

8) Zach Hamill (BOS) – Hamill had a bit of a rough NHL career. He started out in Boston for three years but spent most of his time playing for their AHL affiliate. He signed a two-way contract with the Canucks and played for their AHL affiliate until his contract was terminated. Since then, he’s spent most of his time overseas in the KHL, in the Liiga, and the Swiss National League A.
Career NHL numbers: 0 G, 4 A, 4 P (20 GP)

9) Logan Couture (SJS) – Couture has had one hell of an NHL career and it makes you wonder how some of these teams before the Sharks passed up on him but that’s the way the draft works. Couture has rightfully spent his entire career with the Sharks and is one of their most well-known, most prolific players. He has a pretty impressive resume and I won’t get into that but I suggest checking it out. He’s someone who’s going to be known as a Shark forever.
Career NHL numbers: 179 G, 197 A, 376 P (504 GP)

10) Keaton Ellerby (FLA) – Ellerby was ranked #4 among North American skaters. My favorite fact about him is that he scored his first NHL goal against the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist (sorry). In 2013, he was traded to the Kings but was later claimed off of waivers by the Jets. After spending much of the 2014-15 season in the AHL, Ellerby signed a contract in the KHL and later signed with the HC Fribourg-Gottéron (NLA).
Career NHL numbers: 4 G, 23 A, 27 P (212 GP)

11) Brandon Sutter (CAR) – Sutter originally spent some time in the AHL but quickly made his way up to the big leagues. He scored his first NHL goal against Pittsburgh’s (Vegas’s) Marc-André Fleury. He signed a three-year contract with the Canes in 2011 but was traded to the Penguins in a year later. The Pens resigned Sutter in 2014 but traded him a year later to the Canucks, where he is now an alternate captain.
Career NHL numbers: 120 G, 108 A, 228 P (596 GP)

12) Ryan McDonagh (MTL) – McDonagh won’t be remembered as a Canadien; he’ll be remembered as a New York Ranger. McDonagh has meant the world to the Rangers organization and their fan base. Two years after being drafted by the Habs, they sent him and a few others to New York. A year later, he signed an entry-level contract. In 2011, he scored his first NHL goal against the Devils (fittingly, unfortunately enough) to help the Rangers secure the eight and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. In 2013, he signed a six-year contract with the Rangers; on October 6, 2014, he was named the Rangers’ 27th Captain in franchise history and the rest is history.
Career NHL numbers: 49 G, 163 A, 212 P (467 GP)

13) Lars Eller (STL) – Eller had an impressive first season in North America (2009-10), playing for the Blues’ AHL affiliate, and was named to the AHL All-Rookie team. In 2010, he was traded to the Canadiens, where he spent the next six years of his career. He was traded to the Capitals at the 2016 NHL draft in exchange for a pair of second-round picks and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.
Career NHL numbers: 85 G, 96 A, 181 P (523 GP)

14) Kevin Shattenkirk (COL) – does his name sound familiar? What if I attached sweepstakes at the end? Just kidding. He made his NHL debut in 2010 against the Canucks and was one of 12 rookies to participate in the All-Star festivities that year. In 2011, he was sent to the Blues in a multiple-player trade and proceeded to spend the next seven years of his NHL career there. He signed a four-year extension with the team in 2013 but this past season, the two parties failed to negotiate a new contract and Shattenkirk was sent to Washington; he posted 14 points in 19 games with his new team. He is a UFA and may end up with several different teams; the likeliest team seems like the Rangers but whether or not they have the cap space to accommodate him remains to be seen.
Career NHL numbers: 68 G, 230 A, 298 P (490 GP)

15) Alex Plante (EDM) – Plante played out the three years of his entry-level contract with Edmonton but played in just 10 NHL games and notched two points. He spent most of his time with Edmonton’s AHL affiliate. In 2013, he joined the Austrian Hockey League as a free agent and in 2015, he joined Asia League Ice Hockey; he became a South Korean citizen this year.
Career NHL numbers: 0 G, 2 A, 2 P (10 GP)

16) Colton Gillies (MIN) – Gillies spent most of his entire, including the entire 2009-10 season, with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. He signed a two-year contract extension with the Wild in 2011 but struggled that upcoming season; he was eventually placed on waivers and was claimed by Columbus. He then signed a pair of one-year deals in the AHL, the first with the Rochester Americans (Buffalo) and then with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Career NHL numbers: 6 G, 12 A, 18 P (154 GP)

17) Alexei Cherepanov (NYR) – Cherepanov was the top-ranked European prospect according to NHL Central Scouting in the 2007 draft. He was selected by the Rangers and attended their prospect camp that summer but before the onset of the 2007-08 season, he returned to Russia to play for the KHL. He played just 14 games before collapsing on the bench during a game; he was declared dead at the hospital after doctors tried to resuscitate him. There was plenty of controversy surrounding his death and investigations ensued. The NHL instated a “Cherepanov rule”, where teams could be compensated with a draft pick if a player they drafted dies before signing a contract. The KHL also renamed its Rookie of the Year trophy to the Alexei Cherepanov Award.
Career NHL numbers: N/A

18) Ian Cole (STL) – Cole spent the first five years of his career playing for St. Louis before being traded to the Penguins in March of 2015. He signed a three-year contract with the organization three months later and is now a two-time Stanley Cup champion. He was exposed in the Vegas expansion draft, which could indicate that Pittsburgh might ship him out somewhere else, but Vegas took Fleury over him.
Career NHL numbers: 15 G, 62 A, 77 P (338 GP)

19) Logan MacMillan (ANA) – MacMillan spent the first three years of his NHL career in the AHL; he was traded to Calgary in 2010. He spent two years within the Flames organization, playing for their AHL affiliate but never played an NHL game. In 2012, he signed a contract to play in the Austrian Hockey League.
Career NHL numbers: N/A

20) Angelo Esposito (PIT) – Esposito also never played a single NHL game. He spent the first part of his professional career in the AHL and tore his ACL twice. In 2010, he was traded to the Panthers and six months later, he was traded to the Stars. At the end of his season, he became a UFA and signed a contract to play abroad. He played one game in the ECHL before returning to Italy.
Career NHL numbers: N/A

21) Riley Nash (EDM) – originally picked by the Oilers, Nash’s rights were traded to the Hurricanes in 2010, when he forewent signing a contract with them. The Canes then signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract. He spent six years with the organization and when he became a UFA in 2016, he signed a two-year contract with the Bruins, the team he still plays for.
Career NHL numbers: 38 G, 60 A, 98 P (323 GP)

22) Max Pacioretty (MTL) – it’s hard to think about the Canadiens and not think of Max Pacioretty, and that alone tells you a lot. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Habs in 2008 and really, the rest is history. He scored his first NHL goal in a 4-1 loss to the Devils on January 2, 2009. He won the Masteron Trophy in 2012. In 2014, he was named an alternate captain and a year later, he was named the 29th Captain in franchise history. He was the first Hab to wear #67 and will likely be the last.
Career NHL numbers: 209 G, 202 A, 411 P (562 GP)

23) Jonathon Blum (NSH) – he split the three years of his entry-level contract between the NHL and the AHL level and when Nashville failed to tender him, he signed a two-year contract with the Wild. When he became a UFA, he signed a contract to play in the KHL where he plays to this day.
Career NHL numbers: 7 G, 17 A, 24 P (110 GP)

24) Mikael Backlund (CGY) – Backlund has played his entire NHL career with the Flames and has become one of their best forwards. He’s struggled offensively from time-to-time and his career has been plagued with injuries but he found a newfound confidence in his ability after the 2012-13 lockout. He had a career year this past season, tallying 31 points in 81 games, playing on the 3M Line with Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk. He will be a UFA at the conclusion of next season but he should be signed to an extension.
Career NHL numbers: 94 G, 134 A, 228 P (461 GP)

25) Patrick White (VAN) – White was drafted by the Canucks but never played an NHL game. He played four seasons with the University of Minnesota (NCAA) and now plays international hockey.
Career NHL numbers: N/A

26) David Perron (STL) – poor guy just got drafted to Vegas. To be fair, he has moved around a fair bit. He played the first six years of his career with St. Louis until he was traded to the Oilers in 2013. In 2015, they traded him to the Penguins, who then sent him to the Ducks a year later. He became a free agent and decided to return to his original NHL club, signing a two-year contract with the Blues. They exposed him for the Vegas expansion draft and the Golden Knights selected him.
Career NHL numbers: 159 G, 219 A, 378 P (652 GP)

27) Brendan Smith (DET) – Smith has played his entire career with the Red Wings and has been one of their most well-recognized defensemen. They signed him to a pair of two-year contracts until the end of the 2016-17 season, when they traded him to the Rangers for a 2017 third-round pick. There’s no doubt that he could be good for the Rangers (and I completely mean that).
Career NHL numbers: 16 G, 55 A, 71 P (309 GP)

28) Nick Petrecki (SJS) – he played NCAA hockey with Boston College and scored the overtime game winner in BC’s 2008 Beanpot Championship Game victory against Harvard. He signed a contract with the Sharks but played just one NHL game before being assigned to their AHL affiliate. He was then loaned to another AHL club (the Amerks) and played there for an additional year. He is currently a UFA.
Career NHL numbers: 0 G, 0 A, 0 P (1 GP)

29) Jim O’Brien (OTT) – O’Brien currently plays for the Colorado Avalanche on a two-year contract. The year prior, he played for the Devils and played in just 4 NHL games. He spent two years playing in the AHL but before that, he played for Ottawa, spending more time in their AHL affiliate than with the big club.
Career NHL numbers: 8 G, 4 A, 12 P (67 GP)

30) Nick Ross (PHX) – Ross has spent his entire professional hockey career playing junior hockey and in the AHL, and currently plays hockey in the Austrian Hockey League.
Career NHL numbers: N/A

Notable Late Round Selections:
P.K. Subban – Subban was drafted 43rd overall in the second round of the draft by the Canadiens and has become one of the faces of the NHL. He won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2013. Subban was one of Montréal’s top defensemen and most recognized players; he was so good for the organization and they thanked him by sending him to Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber in a highly, highly publicized trade during the 2016 offseason. Subban helped Nashville reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history, ultimately falling to the defending champs, the Penguins, in six games. He’s won three gold medals representing Canada at international tournaments, including the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. He is one of the most exciting players and best defensemen in the league today.
Career NHL numbers: 73 G, 245 A, 318 P (500 GP)

Wayne Simmonds – the “Wayne Train” took Philadelphia and the National Hockey League by storm. He was drafted 61st overall in the second round by the Kings. After three seasons with L.A., he was traded to the Flyers where he’s been ever since. He signed a six-year contract extension in 2012. He’s has a reputation outside of Philly; he’s tallied quite a few penalty minutes in his career so far (901). He represented Philly at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game and was named the MVP, helping the Metropolitan Division win the “tournament”. He’s had a great career so far and is one of Philly’s most recognized players.
Career NHL numbers: 202 G, 196 A, 398 P (687 GP)

Yannick Weber – Weber was drafted 73rd overall in the third round by the Canadiens and signed a three-year, entry-level contract with them in 2008. He played five years with the organization and when he did not qualify as an RFA, he signed a one-year deal with the Canucks. He would spend three years with Vancouver and proceeded to sign two consecutive one-year contracts with the Predators. He is currently a UFA.
Career NHL numbers: 23 G, 55 A, 78 P (347 GP)

Alexander Killorn – Killorn was drafted 77th overall in the third round by the Lightning and has spent his entire NHL career with the team (five seasons). Before that, he played collegiate hockey with Harvard (NCAA). Last year, he signed a six-year, $33 million contract extension with the team. He’s someone who could break out next season or the organization might decide to trade him just like they did with Ben Bishop and Jonathan Drouin (sorry).
Career NHL numbers: 72 G, 102 A, 174 P (353 GP)

Alec Martinez – Martinez was drafted 95th overall by the Kings 10 years ago and has remained with the organization ever since. He’s won two Cups with L.A., once in 2012 (we don’t like to remember that one) and once in 2014. In 2014, he scored the overtime winner in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Blackhawks to send the Kings to the Cup Finals and he scored the OT winner in Game 5 of the Finals with 5:17 left in double overtime against the Rangers to win the Cup; he became just the 17th player to score a Cup-winning overtime goal in league history. So Kings fans know him well; he’s gone a little under the radar outside of L.A. but that’s okay. The organization knew what they were doing when they him.
Career NHL numbers: 48 G, 99 A, 147 P (419 GP)

Jamie Benn – the Stars picked Benn 129th overall in the 2007 draft and six years later, he was named the 9th Captain in franchise history. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and he won the Art Ross trophy (league’s top scorer) in 2015, beating John Tavares by a single point. He was an NHL All-Star in 2012 and 2016, and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team for the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons. He has been one of Dallas’s main players since he was brought up and the franchise just wouldn’t be the same without him. He’s signed on with the Stars through the 2024-25 season (he’s not going anywhere).
Career NHL numbers: 218 G, 299 A, 517 P (585 GP)

Scott Darling – Darling was selected 163rd overall in the sixth round of the 2007 draft by the (Phoenix) Coyotes but it’s not uncommon for goaltenders to go this late in the draft. Darling is the only goaltender on this list. In 2014, the Blackhawks originally signed Darling as a free agent to a one-year deal and then signed him to a two-year contract extension. He helped the Hawks win the Cup in 2015 and in doing so, became the first Chicago-area native to win the Cup with the Hawks. At the conclusion of this past season, Chicago traded his pending free agent rights to the Canes, who signed him to a four-year contract and protected him for the Vegas expansion draft.
Career NHL numbers: 39-17-9 record, 2.37 GAA, .923 save %, four shutouts (75 GP)

Patrick Maroon – Maroon was selected 161st overall in the sixth round by the Flyers and spent his first few years playing for the AHL affiliate; the team’s coaches, however, weren’t happy with his conditioning so in 2010, they traded him to Anaheim, where he played parts of five seasons. In February of 2016, he was traded to the Oilers and in his first four games with the organization, he scored two goals and a pair of assists. Earlier this January, he scored his first career hat trick in a game against the Bruins. He will be a UFA at the end of the next season but I would be surprised if he didn’t resign with Edmonton. He’s been really good for the team.
Career NHL numbers: 61 G, 74 A, 135 P (301 GP)

Carl Hagelin – Hagelin was drafted 168th overall in the sixth round of the 2007 draft by the Rangers. He played college hockey at the University of Michigan (NCAA) and even though he was a Ranger, I can appreciate just how good he is at what he does. In 2015, just as he was about to become a free agent, New York traded him to the Ducks; he struggled with Anaheim and they proceeded to trade him to Pittsburgh, where he helped the Pens win back-to-back Stanley Cups. So yeah, you could say he’s pretty good.
Career NHL numbers: 78 G, 113 A, 191 P (407 GP)

Nick Bonino – and our trend of Pittsburgh Penguins continues. Bonino rounds out this list and while Hockey Night in Punjabi’s goal call for him is one of my personal favorites of all-time, he’s been one of the most consistent members of the Pens for a while. Bonino was drafted 173rd overall by the Sharks in the sixth round but his rights were traded to the Ducks two years later. In 2014, he was traded to the Canucks as part of the Ryan Kesler trade and a year later, he found himself being traded to Pittsburgh. But he got the last laugh. He, too, is a back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion with the Penguins organization and was an integral part of them even making it that far, as was Hagelin. Hagelin and Bonino were joined by Stanley Cup Champion Phil Kessel on the HBK line, a force to be reckoned with. So yeah, Bonino’s done pretty well too.
Career NHL numbers: 75 G, 112 A, 187 P (407 GP)

And there you have it, a look back at the 2007 NHL entry-level draft, exactly 10 years later. Did I miss anyone important? Let me know! The only lesson here is that draft order doesn’t matter a whole lot and I know I keep saying this on this blog. You could be picked in the first or the seventh round; it doesn’t determine how your career is going to go. And with that said, the 2017 NHL entry-level draft takes place tomorrow night! Don’t forget to tune in to see who your favorite team(s) take(s) in the first round!

New Jersey Devils: 2017-18 Regular Season Schedule Announced

So I’m beyond ready to blog about a full season for the first time.

The NHL announced the 2017-18 regular season schedule at 3PM EST today and there’s a link to their announcement here; there’s also an article about the ten must-see NHL games of the season here! The Devils have one of those spots, when they face the Flyers for the first time this upcoming season on January 13:

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Let them both get drafted first before we hype up this “rivalry”; they’ll only be rivals on the ice if their off-ice shenanigans are any indication. You can probably bet that those two will be picked first and second overall but you never know. Philly could potentially trade their pick away (and I really hope the Devils don’t). All four games between the two games will be played in rapid succession.

You know the drill: the Devils play 41 games at home and 41 away. They’ll play a total of 28 divisional games, four against each team in the Metro. They’ll play three games apiece against Atlantic division opponents for a total of 24, which brings us to 52. The Devils will play two games against each Western Conference opponent; keep in mind that there are now 15 teams, not 14, which brings us up to 82 games.

On to the rest of the schedule:

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First thoughts, the Devils play the Rangers on my birthday on the 14th so that’s exciting! If I can afford tickets, I might go and represent the red and black, and whoever the Devils draft first overall will get their initial taste of the Hudson River rivalry.

The Devils’ first game of the season is also their home opener! They play the Avalanche at The Rock at 7PM (I might go to this game too depending on what my fall schedule looks like). They play six home games and four away games, and if they get off to the same start as last season, they might be okay. They play two divisional games and five conference games. That break from October 21-26 is a little surprising seeing as their NHL-mandated break isn’t until January (but more on that later).

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The Devils play six home games and eight away games during the month of November. They start the month with a Western Conference road trip and follow it up with a three-game home stretch. They’ll go back on the road for four games, come home, back on the road, come home. November should be fun.

They’ll play Vancouver and Edmonton twice and get those games over with. They also play Florida twice. The Florida road trip kicked their butts last season so hopefully that changes. They don’t play any divisional games either and play five of those 14 games against Eastern Conference opponents.

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In December, the Devils play eight home games and six road games; hopefully, they’ll play better in December than they did last season. Fingers (and toes) crossed. They’ll again start the month with a road trip. Their six-game home stand is split by Christmas break from December 24-26. They play five divisional games and three conference games.

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The Devils start their third month in a row with a road trip. They play just four home games and seven away games; January will be road-heavy again and New Jersey won’t play back-to-back home games at all. They’ll play five divisional games and three conference games. They’ll face the Islanders and the Flyers for the first time this season, and will play them both twice. Their NHL-mandated break will take place from January 8-12. The All-Star break is from January 26-29; the All-Star Game is on the 28th and will take place at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, FL, home of the Lightning.

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February is a little bit kinder. They don’t start this month with a road trip. New Jersey plays eight road games and six away games. Nine of those 14 games will be against Metropolitan Division opponents and those games could be crucial if the Devils are in or fighting for a playoff spot (which they hopefully will be). They’ll face the back-to-back Stanley Cup champs for the first time as well as the Canes. They’ll face Philly, Columbus, Carolina, and Pittsburgh twice each, and won’t play back-to-back road games at all.

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Oh look, another road trip to start the month. The Devils play seven home games and eight road games during the month of March. They will face the Vegas Golden Knights for the first time this season and will play them twice within a week and a half. I’m sure the Devils will fly out early and have some “team-bonding” activities planned.

They’ll play five games against divisional opponents; three of them will be at home, as part of a three-game home stretch to finish the month. They’ll play six straight games on the road, including a West Coast road trip (I’m including Vegas).

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Like usual, the regular season ends at the end of the first week of April. Six of the Devils’ last eight games are at home and could be important, again, if they’re in or fighting for a playoff spot at the time. Their last home game of the season will be on April 5th against Toronto; their last regular season game is on April 7th against the Capitals (which hopefully won’t be their last game of the season).

Initial thoughts? I hope this season goes better than the past few. Once the draft commotion dies down a little bit, I’ll post about some interesting match-ups and what games I would mark on my calendar as well as important games and important stretches of games in terms of playoff picture, etc. But here’s the question: is it October yet?

Vegas Expansion Draft: Roster Selections

Vegas held their expansion draft in the middle of tonight’s NHL Awards ceremony; the picks were announced in the reverse order of the regular season standings, from Colorado up to Washington.

Here are Vegas’s picks from each team:
Colorado – G Calvin Pickard
Vancouver – D Luca Sbisa
New Jersey – D Jon Merrill
Buffalo – F William Carrier
Detroit – F Tomas Nosek
Dallas – F Cody Eakin
Florida – F Jonathan Marchessault
Los Angeles – D Brayden McNabb
Carolina – F Connor Brickley
Winnipeg – F Chris Thorburn
Philadelphia – F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Tampa Bay – D Jason Garrison
New York (Islanders) – G Jean-Francois Berube
Nashville – F James Neal
Calgary – D Deryk Engelland
Toronto – F Brendan Leipsic
Boston – D Colin Miller
Ottawa – D Marc Methot
San Jose – D David Schlemko
St. Louis – F David Perron
New York (Rangers) – F Oscar Lindberg
Edmonton – D Griffin Reinhart
Montreal – D Alexei Emelin
Anaheim – D Clayton Stoner
Minnesota – F Erik Haula
Columbus – F William Karlsson
Chicago – D Trevor van Riemsdyk
Pittsburgh – G Marc-André Fleury
Washington – D Nate Schmidt

There were several trades made as well (in order of team selection):
Vegas acquires a sixth-round pick from Buffalo in addition to selecting Carrier.
Vegas acquires winger Reilly Smith in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round pick.
Vegas acquires a fifth-round pick from Carolina.
Vegas acquires winger Nikita Gusev, a 2017 second-round pick, and a 2018 fourth-round pick from Tampa Bay.
Vegas acquires Mikhail Grabovski, a 2017 first-round pick (#15 overall), a 2019 second-round pick, and D Jake Bischoff from the Islanders.
Vegas acquires prospect Alex Tuch from Minnesota in exchange for a 2017 or 2018 third-round pick.
Vegas acquires a 2017 first-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick, and David Clarkson from Columbus.
Vegas acquires prospect Shea Theodore in exchange for selecting Stoner from Anaheim.
Vegas acquires a 2020 second-round pick from Pittsburgh in exchange for taking on Fleury’s contract.

Keep in mind that most of these trades, if not all of them, are teams protecting their current players and trying to get Vegas to choose a certain player over another. So basically GMGM (General Manager George McPhee) has every other team’s GM eating out of his hands.

The New York and Columbus trades were pretty bad; both teams give up a tremendous amount of picks/prospects in exchange for Vegas either selecting/not selecting a certain player or position. But I won’t complain about the Islanders; I hope they continue to make these lopsided trades. Better for us!

The Devils did lose defenseman Jon Merrill, which is a loss, but they didn’t lose Beau Bennett or Stefan Noesen. We knew that Vegas wanted to have a defense-heavy draft and they did just that. They’ve acquired several great defensemen and actually put together a pretty decent team.

There were a few surprises and a few obvious choices. Fleury, van Riemsdyk, Neal, Marchessault, and McNabb were all of the probable choices from their teams with the way the preceding few weeks have gone. I’m still surprised that Florida chose not to protect Marchessault and I’m also surprised that there was no trade in place.

Engellend and Berube were both a bit of a surprise, Berube especially because Vegas had a ton of goaltenders to choose from. Schlemko was a bit of a surprise too with the caliber of players that the Sharks left exposed. I like that the Golden Knights took Engellend, a Vegas native.

Fleury was the obvious choice for Vegas at goaltender but I am surprised that they chose Berube and Pickard; I thought they might have taken a look at Carolina’s Cam Ward or Eddie Lack but the Canes had a trade in place to ensure that Vegas didn’t.

But all-in-all, Vegas has a pretty decent team? They probably won’t finish at the bottom of the league like some people seem to think they will. Additionally, a few of these players could be trade bait for other teams who are looking to acquire them. Expect to hear more news out of Vegas within the next few days!

Expansion draft down, entry-level draft is next!