The Devils have a well earned reputation for being one of the most successful drafting teams in the NHL. And at this weekend’s Entry Draft form Sunrise, Florida, General Manager Lou Lamoriello and Head Scout David Conte will look to carry on the success.
Since 1990’s draft, 47 of New Jersey’s drafted players have gone on to play at least one NHL game, which is best in the league along with Colorado and NYI. Last year alone, the Devils had 9 of their own drafted players on their roster and 6 others who spent some time up with the Devils as well. The 9 players were: Martin Brodeur (‘90,1/20) Ken Daneyko (‘82,1/18) Scott Niedermayer (‘91,1/3) Colin White (‘96,2/49) Scott Gomez (‘98,1/27) Patrik Elias (‘94,2/51) Petr Sykora (‘95,1/18) Sergei Brylin (‘92,2/42) and Jay Pandolfo (‘93,2/32). The other 6 were: Mike Commodore (‘99,2/42) Sascha Goc (’97,/159) Pierre Dagenais (‘98,4/105) Jiri Bicek (‘97,5/131) Stan Gron (‘97,2/38) and Mike Jefferson (‘00,5/135). They have plenty of other notable draftees of theirs around the league like Brendan Shanahan (‘87,1/2) Bill Guerin (‘89,1/5) Steve Sullivan (‘94,9/233) Jason Smith (‘92,1/18) and Brian Rolston (‘91,1/11). That is proof of how well the Devils have been able to use the draft to stock their team. They can find players high or low and can always seem to find the diamond in the rough or sleepers that other teams pass over.
Like last year, New Jersey has a huge chunk of their picks is the first half of the draft including 5 in the third round. They have an overall total of 12. As of right now, the Devils picks are as follows: 1/24, 1/28, 3/67, 3/72, 3/78, 3/81, 3/94, 4/128, 5/163, 6/194, 8/229 and 8/257. What makes having 5 third round selections even better is that if they see a player that they really want still available, they have great trade bait. The Devils main needs for the future are size up front (mainly on the wing), skilled blueliners and goaltending depth in the junior and college ranks. And with the amount of selections the Devils have, they should be able to address those needs, and be able to add skill forwards as well.
As usual, the Devils sometimes surprise with their first rounder(s) so picking who it might be can be a daunting task. But we will look at a few of the players that may be available to the Devils come their 2 first round picks anyways.
Let’s start on defense: Igor Knyazev (RUS), Mark Popovic (St.Mikes), Lukas Krajicek (Peterborough), Jeff Woywitka (Red Deer), Fedor Tyutin (RUS), Brendan Bell(Ottawa) Now, seeing that the Devils drafted quite a few defencemen last year, it is quite possible they may use both picks on forwards. However, if an skilled blueliner (Krajicek) slipped to them, they would be wise to pick him up. Of all the above, Krajicek is the one that interests me the most. He’s got decent size at 6-1, 180 and is an above average skater with superb offensive instincts. His only negative seems to be lack of physical play. The Devils don’t have many skilled blueliners that have as much talent as Krajicek in their system, and adding someone like him would be huge. Knyazev is a smart, defensive minded guy, who has great leadership qualities. He would be near the top of my list for defencemen the Devils should select come their first first rounder.
Forwards: Chuck Kobasew (BCollege), Alex Perezhogin(RUS), Alex Polushin (RUS), David Steckel (Ohio State), Marcel Goc (GER), Tim Jackman (MSU-Mankato), Timofei Shishkanov (RUS), Jens Karlsson (SWE) If the Devils want size, Steckel, Jackman and Karlsson fit the bill. If they want skill, all three Russians and Goc would provide that. If Kobasew was available when the Devils pick, he would be a perfect selection for them. He plays with lots of heart and intensity and has some skill in him as well. Steckel is an intriguing pick, just because of his size(6-5,200) and potential. He is a little rough around the edges, but in time, he could develop into a highly effective powerforward. Goc, whose older brother Sascha plays in the Devils organization, is considered a sleeper, but as of late his stock is going up. Not many Germans make it to the NHL, but this guy seems to have the tools. His calling card is his above-average skill level.