The Devils have 11* (*tentative) picks in this year’s NHL Entry-Level Draft and while they likely won’t have all of them come Draft Day (because GM Ray Shero will use them as trade chips), we can take a look at the picks they do have as of today, what positions the Devils might look to take with them, and a little history behind them.
Their most important pick is their first-round pick, where the Devils get to select the first overall pick of the draft. This decision essentially comes down to Nolan Patrick vs. Nico Hischier, both centers, who could become first-line centers in the NHL. Yes, the Devils could use pretty much any other position because they already have an abundance of centers in the organization but there’s really no one in the draft worth taking first overall over these two if you’re the Devils.
The Devils have never selected first overall in team history, but they did in 1979 as the Colorado Rockies when they selected Rob Ramage with the first overall pick. The last 10 first overall picks: Auston Matthews (2016, TOR), Connor McDavid (2015, EDM), Aaron Ekblad (2014, FLA), Nathan MacKinnon (2013, COL), Nail Yakupov (2012, EDM), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011, EDM), Taylor Hall (2010, EDM), John Tavares (2009, NYI), Steven Stamkos (2008, TBL), and Patrick Kane (2007, CHI). But while most don’t consider Patrick or Hischier to be franchise players like McDavid or Matthews, they’re both still valuable players and could really help the franchise.
New Jersey has two second-round picks, their own and a pick from the Bruins. They will first select 36th overall (their own pick) and have never selected in that spot in franchise history. I hope they use this pick to select a winger, a right wing preferably but left wing wouldn’t hurt either, or even a defenseman. Let’s stay away from the centers and goaltenders this time.
The last 10 36th overall picks: Pascal Laberge (2016, PHI), Gabriel Gagne (2015, OTT), Thatcher Demko (2014, VAN), Zachary Fucale (2013, MTL), Nic Kerdiles (2012, ANA), Adam Clendening (2011, CHI), Alex Petrovic (2010, FLA), Chris Brown (2009, PHX), Corey Trivino (2008, NYI), and Joel Gistedt (2007, PHX).
The Devils received a second second-round pick in a trade with the Bruins; New Jersey sent Lee Stempniak to Boston in exchange for a 2016 4th-round pick (the Devils selected Evan Cormier) and a 2017 2nd-round pick. They will select 49th overall. I wouldn’t mind going winger or defenseman again.
They have selected 49th overall just once in franchise history, when the Devils selected defenseman Colin White in 1996. The last 10 overall picks: Ryan Lindgren (2016, BOS), Roope Hintz (2015, DAL), Vaclav Karabacek (2014, BUF), Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau (2013, SJS), Martin Frk (2012, DET), Christopher Gibson (2011, LAK), Calvin Pickard (2010, COL), Stefan Elliot (2009, COL), Jared Staal (2008, PHX), and Trevor Cann (2007, COL).
The Devils also have a pair of third-round picks. They’ll select 63rd overall with a pick from Colorado and 66th overall with a pick from San Jose; the Devils traded away their original 3rd-round pick to the Hurricanes in exchange for Tuomo Ruutu. The Colorado pick came in exchange for Eric Gelinas, while the San Jose pick came when the Sharks hired former Devils head coach Pete DeBoer back in 2015.
They’ve selected 63rd overall just once in franchise history when they took RW Scott Parker in 1996. The last 10 overall picks: Markus Niemelainen (2016, EDM), Kyle Capobianco (ARI), Dominic Turgeon (2014, DET), Spencer Martin (2013, COL), Jujhar Khaira (2012, EDM), Andrey Pedan (2011, NYI), Brock Beukeboom (2010, TBL), Ben Hanowski (2009, PIT), Robert Czarnik (2008, LAK), and Maxime Macenauer (2007, ANA).
New Jersey has selected D Cale Hulse 66th overall in 1992, C Anders Carlsson in 1986, and LW Greg Polak in 1985. The Rockies selected LW Gus Greco 66th overall in 1981. The last 10 overall picks: Adam Fox (2016, CGY), Guillaume Brisebois (2015, VAN), Nikita Tryamkin (2014, VAN), Brett Pesce (2013, CAR), Jimmy Vesey (2012, NSH), T.J. Tynan (2011, CBJ), Radko Gudas (2010, TBL), Brayden McNabb (2009, BUF), David Toews (2008, NYI), and Garrett Klotz (2007, PHI).
The Devils have two fourth-round picks too: 98th overall and 123rd overall. The 98th overall pick is their original pick, while the second pick came from the Predators in a trade in February that sent Vernon Fiddler to Nashville. The Devils might go for a left winger or a defenseman here if they haven’t already selected a LW.
They have never selected 98th overall in franchise history. The last 10 overall picks: Tarmo Reunanen (2016, NYR), Samuel Dove-McFalls (2015, PHI), Fredrik Olofsson (2014, CHI), Matt Buckles (2013, FLA), Adam Gilmour (2012, MIN), Mike Reilly (2011, CBJ), Steven Shipley (2010, BUF), Craig Smith (2009, NSH), Mikhail Stefanovich (2008, TOR), and Sebastian Stefaniszin (2007, ANA).
New Jersey has also never selected 123rd overall in franchise history. The last 10 overall picks: Dylan Wells (2016, EDM), Conor Garland (2015, ARI), Matthew Berkovitz (2014, ANA), Will Butcher (2013, COL), Joey LaLeggia (2012, EDM), Garrett Meurs (2011, COL), Zach Hyman (2010, FLA), Alex Velischek (2009, PIT), Andrei Loktionov (2008, LAK), and Maxim Goncharov (2007, PHX).
The Devils then select 129th overall in the 5th round; this is their only pick of the round and it’s their original pick. The Devils could easily go with any position here; if Shero or the scouting team feels the need to draft a goaltender, they could. A defenseman wouldn’t hurt either. If they really want to draft a center, they could but if they do decide to draft either a goaltender or a center, they better really like who they’re drafting.
They selected LW Blake Pietila with the same pick in the 2011 draft, D Christian Gosselin in 1994, C Kevin Todd in 1986, and D Kevin Schrader in 1985. The Rockies also selected LW Jeff Larmer 129th overall in 1981. The last 10 overall picks: Philip Nyberg (2016, BUF), Sam Ruopp (2015, CBJ), C.J. Franklin (2014, WPG), Cal Petersen (2013, BUF), Brendan Woods (2012, CAR), Blake Pietila (2011, NJD), Freddie Hamilton (2010, SJS), Tomas Vincour (2009, DAL), Joel Champagne (2008, TOR), and Jamie Benn (2007, DAL).
New Jersey has a pair of sixth-round picks (but they probably won’t have both come draft time), one 160th overall (their original pick) and the other at 185th overall. The second pick comes from another trade with Nashville, this time in exchange for P.A. Parenteau at the trade deadline this past season. Again, they could go with pretty much any position with these picks.
The Devils have selected 160th overall just once as a franchise: LW Myles Bell in 2013. The last 10 overall picks: Michael Pezzetta (2016, MTL), Adam Parsells (2015, SJS), Pontus Sjalin (2014, MIN), Myles Bell (2013, NJD), Ryan Olsen (2012, WPG), Josh Manson (2011, ANA), Tanner Lane (2010, ATL), Corey Cowick (2009, OTT), Luke Witkowski (2008, TBL), and Anthony Peluso (2007, STL).
New Jersey then selects 185th overall; they selected G Josh Disher in 2004, LW Scott Cameron in 1999, and C Aleksandr Chernykh in 1983. The last 10 overall picks: Calvin Thurkauf (2016, CBJ), Nikita Korostelev (2015, TOR), Cameron Darcy (2014, TBL), Wade Murphy (2013, NSH), Jake Bischoff (2012, NYI), Mitchell Theoret (2011, NYI), Cody Rosen (2010, NYI), Levko Koper (2009, ATL), Paul Karpowich (2008, STL), and Nick Larson (2007, WSH).
The Devils have just one 7th-round pick, 191st overall. This pick is a toss-up too; they could package it in a trade or just use it to select someone they could potentially trade. It could theoretically be any position and I wouldn’t rule anything out.
The Devils have selected 191st overall just once in team history, when they selected goaltender Pete Fry in 1987; the Rockies selected LW Mats Ulander in 1974. The last 10 overall picks: Travis Barron (2016, COL), Gustav Olhaver (2015, COL), Jared Fiegl (2014, ARI), Dominik Kubalik (2013, LAK), Brandon Whitney (2012, CHI), Tyler Graovac (2011, MIN), Macmillan Carruth (2010, CHI), Michael Sdao (2009, OTT), Morgan Clark (2008, VAN), and Ryan Watson (2007, FLA).
So what does all of this mean? The Devils have a lot of picks and they won’t use all of them. Some will be traded; they’ll keep the rest. The later-round picks have been hit-or-miss but you really never know. As mentioned earlier, Dallas Captain Jamie Benn was selected 129th overall back in 2007 and look at the player that he’s become. How late a pick is made doesn’t matter a whole lot; what does matter is the development and training of the player.