The New Jersey Devils have had a great draft history over the past few years, putting the most players in the National Hockey League of any organization in the league. Almost 40 in the last 4 seasons. This kind of success must continue in order for the Devils to be competitive. Although the Devils first round pick is not until the 27th overall. The Devils have even with late picks, had tremendous success. I am sure that GM Lou Lamoriello will make this one no exception.
With the addition of Larry Robinson back to the Devils coaching staff, the 99 Entry Draft will see a return to drafting defense. Defenseman Mike Van Ryn seems like a solid pick from last season’s draft. The Devils need to add a couple of more defenseman to compliment a good young core in the minors. The Devils could lose defenseman or two in the next couple of expansion drafts. Rumored to go are Kevin Dean and stay at home Defenseman Brad Bombardir. The Devils need to replenish and stockpile defense for the upcoming years but don’t count the Devils draft according to need. GM Lamoriello always drafts the best player available but with their 1st Pick overall there should be plenty of defenseman available. Look for them to draft some size at this position, such as 6’5″ Martin Grenier, Quebec (QMJHL), 6’4″ Mike Commodore, North Dakota (WCHA), or 6’4″ Matt Carkner, Peterborough (OHL). If the Lamoriello sees a prospect no matter what the position, he will jump at the chance to take him, even it means trading to get them. Much like last years’ trade in the first round from Dallas to pick up high scoring Scott Gomez.
The Devils also had the option to take the St. Louis Blues’ 1st round pick if they wished, but due to the 17th pick of the Blues, the Devils would rather trade up than give up their opportunity to take the Blues’ pick in this years draft. The Devils also have had great success in drafting in the later rounds, they have two picks in the 2nd round (47th and 58th), so look for the player they choose to make an impact in the coming years, perhaps from Europe.
The Devils also need some forwards with some size to compliment the young group of goal scorers they have ine the system and on the team already. After seeing what the next group of prospects plays like down in Albany, the Devils need to draft a goal scorer, not for immediate use in the NHL, but down the line and even after the next wave of expansion drafting. So on draft day, look for two things from the Devils this year, going against typical drafting thought (usually by drafting players against conventional wisdom and rankings) and look to make a few moves within the organization.