New Jersey Devils 2013 draft review

By John Iadevaia

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Photo: Defenseman Steve Santini was the first player selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

As the hosts of the 2013 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils opened with a bang and closed on a touching note. With the team on the clock for their first round selection, Commissioner Gary Bettman arrived to the podium to announce that New Jersey had traded their first round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for goaltender Cory Schneider.

But the Devils were not done. In the second round, they dropped from 39th to 42nd, while gaining Phoenix's 73rd pick in the third round. They also held the 100th and 160th picks in the fourth and sixth rounds. Towards the end of the night, GM Lou Lamoriello gave up a seventh-round pick in 2015 to acquire Los Angeles's 2013 seventh rounder. They quickly used the 208th pick to take goaltender Anthony Brodeur, with father Martin announcing the selection.

Steve Santini, D – USNDTP
2nd Round, 42nd Overall
Height: 6'2 Weight: 207

With their first real selection of the draft, Lamoriello's staff chose blueliner Steve Santini. It is a good pick for a player that could have gone in the late first round, but some may wonder why the team did not go for a quality forward in the second round.

Santini's lack of offensive production hurt his stock with some teams. Last season with the US National Developmental Team, he played in 25 games and added five assists and was a plus-six. The year before, he scored one goal and five points in 36 games.

The Mahopac, NY native may not provide much offensively, but he is one of the smartest and most efficient defensive defensemen in the class of 2013. Scouts like his four-way mobility and responsible play in his own zone. Combine that with his 6'2, 207 pound frame, along with quality hockey sense, and he has the potential to be a top shutdown defenseman.

He performed notably in this year's U18 tournament as Team USA's top defenseman. He displayed great awareness and patience on the ice, especially breaking out of his own zone. He almost played 32 minutes in the semi-final win over Russia. The IIHF honored him as the Best Defenseman in the U18 World Championship.

Santini is committed to Boston College for the fall.

Ryan Kujawinski, C – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
3rd Round, 73rd Overall
Height: 6'2 Weight: 204

Using the 73rd pick acquired from the Coyotes, the Devils selected Ryan Kujawinski from the Kingston Frontenacs. Kujawinski is a physical centerman who possesses dynamic skating ability and a pretty good shot. He is also very good in the faceoff circle.

His biggest flaw is consistency. When he is on his game, he is very difficult to stop. However, against more seasoned teams and players, his play is inconsistent. This season, there were also notable times where he failed to string together good shifts.

Other than his inconsistent play, Kujawinski admits he has other areas to improve upon.

"I definitely need to work on my foot speed [because] sometime I get caught in my own end a little," he said at the draft. "Just be a harder guy to play against and do the little things right."

Hockey's Future recorded interviews with the Devils' top two picks, Santini and Kujawinski, and also picked up team CEO, President and GM Lou Lamoriello's comments on the Cory Schneider deal. You can view the three in the HF video posted below.

Miles Wood, LW – Noble & Greenbough (Massachusetts prep)
4th Round, 100th Overall
Height: 6'1 Weight: 160

The son of former NHL forward Randy Wood, the Buffalo-born forward went to Noble & Greenbough, a Massachusetts prep school, the same one as current Devils defenseman Mark Fayne.

The lefty shooter was the 138th ranked North American skater by NHL's Central Scouting. In his senior year, he scored eight goals and 10 assists. He also played in the 2012 USA Hockey Select 17 Player Development Camp where he notched two goals and an assists.

He will attend Brown University in the fall along with his brother Tyler.

Myles Bell, LW – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
6th Round, 160th Overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 214

Initially a defenseman, Bell was converted to left wing this past season with Kelowna, the same team that Damon Severson plays for. The transition worked very well for the Calgary native. He finished sixth in scoring in the WHL with 93 points (38 goals, 55 assists) along with a plus-46 rating and 68 penalty minutes. He was named to the WHL West Second All-Star Team.

His slapshot is his calling card. At 17 years old, it was clocked in at 98 mph. At 19 years old it remains a potent weapon at even strength and on the powerplay.

"I had actually seen Myles myself when he was a defenseman and I don't think I've seen a player shoot the puck any harder than he shoots," said Lou Lamoriello after selecting Bell. "And when I say that I'm not exaggerating."

Bell is a good skater with offensive skills, and as a defenseman he jumped into the play often. He will have to improve his positioning, but Lamoriello believes the Devils stumbled upon a late-bloomer.

"He's got talent and can score goals and I will tell you he can shoot the puck," he said. "So, it's one of those upside situations that you take a chance on."

Since he will be 20 years old in August, it is likely Bell will be sent to Albany or loaned to an ECHL team.

Anthony Brodeur, G – Shattuck St Mary's, Minnesota
7th Round, 208th Overall
Height: 5'11 Weight: 176

Towards the end of the seventh round, Martin Brodeur approached the microphone and announced that the team had selected his son Anthony with the 208th overall pick. It was a sentimental pick and a proud moment for father, son, and the franchise.

"Speechless," said the 18-year old Brodeur. "Being in New Jersey around all my family and friends and having [my father] surprise me and say my name in front of everybody was pretty cool."

The younger Brodeur was the starting goaltender at Shattuck St. Mary's, a Minnesota prep school that has graduated several big name NHL players, including Sidney Crosby and Zach Parise. He will head to the QMJHL this fall to play for Gatineau.

He is the fourth goaltender in the system and the only one not at the pro level. He plays a butterfly style, but similar to his father, is aggressive towards the shooter, challenging them in tight situations. He understands the comparisons to his father will be ongoing, but appears more concerned with his own career.

"I'm trying to create my own way. I'm not trying to be Martin Brodeur's son," he said in a television interview. "There's pressure, obviously, but I am trying to do my own thing."

Follow John Iadevaia on Twitter at @John_A_Iadevaia

 

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