Entering the draft, the New Jersey Devils were playing with house money. The NHL had rescinded part of the penalty from the Ilya Kovalchuk cap-circumventing contract and gave the team their first round pick back. Thus, the team entered Philadelphia with six picks.
It is no secret that scoring has ailed the organization for some time. Despite the lack of deep talent expected at the 2014 NHL Draft, general manager Lou Lamoriello, head scout David Conte and the rest of Devils management still had a few interesting players to choose from.
New Jersey kept it safe and added big, gritty two-way prospects for the class of 2014. Four forwards and two defensemen join the Devils ranks, including one with NHL bloodlines along with another Boston College bound player.
John Quenneville is a solid playmaker who is involved all over the ice. He shows good patience and skill with the puck, aiming to get his teammates involved in the play. Quenneville is also quite competitive away from the puck. His strong work ethic along the boards, combined with his big frame, gives him an edge in retrieving and protecting the puck.
“I like to play a simple game,” Quenneville said to the media shortly after being selected. “When I watch the Devils play I think I see that. I’m a two-way player and I like to chip in offensively. I think I can fit into the way they play.”
The 6’0, 182 pound center is coming off a strong sophomore season with the Brandon Wheat Kings where he scored 25 goals and 33 assists in 61 games. He also performed quite well in the postseason for Brandon, posting 13 points in nine games.
Quenneville also has NHL bloodlines. He is the second cousin of former Devils defenseman and current Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
Speaking to the media at the end of day one of the draft, Lamoriello compared the newest Devil to one of the team’s rising young stars in Adam Henrique.
“David [Conte] really liked him,” Lamoriello said. “He’s sort of an Adam Henrique type of player. He can play in all situations. We’re very happy. We were picking at 30.”
It is a good comparison for Quenneville who is likely projected to become a second/third line forward. He will return to Brandon this upcoming season.
Quenneville met with the media after being chosen by the Devils, with a portion of that conversation captured in this HF video.
Since 2009, New Jersey has used their second round pick on defenseman. That trend continued in Philadelphia with the selection of Joshua Jacobs. Based off New Jersey’s recent track record, Jacobs could develop into a talented pro blueliner down the road.
Jacobs is a smooth skating two-way defenseman who patterned his game after Chicago Blackhawks blueliner Brent Seabrook. He can grab the puck and skate it up ice or send a stretch pass to a streaking forward. He closes off lanes and is willing to commit the body in his zone. However, he suffers an occasional mental lapse and many times his game has been hot or cold this season.
“My biggest assets as a player I think are my shot, my skating ability and my transitional game. My hockey sense as well,” Jacobs said. “On the flip side, what I need to work on are my hands and puck skills to become a better player and ultimately a New Jersey Devil one day.”
Jacobs scored five goals and 23 points in his last season for Indiana in the USHL. He also contributed on both the power-play and penalty kill.
Jacobs is committed to Michigan State University and will begin his NCAA career this fall.
New Jersey addressed their need at right wing by selecting power forward Connor Chatham. Known to be an energy player, the Plymouth forward plays a rugged, two-way style similar to that of St. Louis Blues captain David Backes. The 6’2, 220 forward was arguably the strongest player in the draft. Despite his size, he gets up and down the ice extremely well and puts in a consistent effort every night.
The 18-year old forward dressed in 54 games for the Plymouth Whalers in 2013-14, where he had 13 goals, 18 assists and 31 points along with 51 penalty minutes. Occasionally Chatham will chip in a goal or two, but his game is better suited for a checking role.
Chatham spoke with the media after being selected by the Devils, with a portion of his comments captured in this HF video.
Ryan Rehill, D, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
5th round, 131st overall
Height: 6’3 Weight: 214 lbs
Rehill is a stay-at-home defenseman that is reasonably mobile and has a good shot from the point. He models his game after Douglas Murray, so offense is not his game. It is unknown how mobile he may become, but there is no questioning his character, leadership, and work ethic.
Look for Rehill to build upon his 20 point campaign with Kamloops. He also amassed 182 penalty minutes in 72 games last season.
Joey Dudek, C, Kimball Union Academy (New Hampshire Prep)
6th round, 152nd overall
Height: 5’11 Weight: 179 lbs
New Jersey dipped back into the amateur pool for the second straight draft and took Joey Dudek out of Kimball Union Academy. The diminutive forward tallied 44 points in 25 games with Kimball last year, captaining the prep school to the New England Small School Prep Championship.
Dudek is a promising project that could become a top-six forward one day. He has elite-level skill and skating with good vision and decision making with the puck. He needs to get stronger and quicker on the ice, but he has shown in the past his commitment to becoming a better overall hockey player.
“I like to make the players around me better. I’m a real team player,” Dudek said to the media after being selected on day two. “I have a lot of poise in the offensive zone but I do like to play two ways. I like to play in the defensive zone as much as I like to play in the offensive zone.”
He will join the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL in 2014-15, then join fellow Devils prospect Miles Wood in Boston College for the 2015-16 season.
Brandon Baddock, LW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
6th round, 161st overall
Height: 6’4 Weight: 205 lbs
Baddock is an overage player on the reigning CHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings. He is a fourth line scrapper which is likely to be his role should he reach the pros. His size easily suits him for bottom-six duties as a checking forward and fighter.
The big forward had 17 points and 128 penalty minutes in 56 games before tallying one point in 13 playoff games playing in a depth role during the Oil Kings title run.