Lamoriello And Co. Still In Charge Of Devils’ Draft
It is more or less official now. The John McMullen years are over for the Devils and new owners will be taking over shortly. However, the change in ownership does not mean there will be any changes at New Jersey’s draft table in Calgary on June 24. Although still riding high after a second Stanley Cup victory in the last six seasons, you can be sure General Manager Lou Lamoriello will be more than ready for this year’s draft. With no assurance that the mysterious Lamoriello will return for next season, this could be his last hurrah. Lamoriello and his staff, which includes unheralded chief scout David Conte, surely will be looking to continue the success of the past several years. There is no reason to expect the Devils will operate any differently from past years. With a Stanley Cup winning team, there are usually not too many holes to fill. Therefore you can expect New Jersey will go after that proverbial best player available regardless of position. The Devils, with one of the NHL’s finest goaltenders in Martin Brodeur, still used first round picks to draft goalies in 1997 and 1999 (J.F. Damphousse and Ari Ahonen) despite the perception the club needed offensive players. Lamoriello also will not be afraid to make a trade on draft day. The Devils had success moving down to draft Brodeur in 1990, as well as moving up to take Scott Gomez in 1998.
So, who will be the Devils’ first round choice in the 2000 draft? Obviously much depends on earlier surprises in the draft. With a defense and goaltending as good as you will find in the NHL today, one might expect New Jersey would target a scorer. With Lamoriello in charge, expect the unexpected. Don’t be surprised to see the Devils pick another defenseman or goaltender. Ron Hainsey, a defenseman from UMass-Lowell, could be that pick. Then again, with Lamoriello you never know.