The New Jersey Devils have made moves either up or down the draft 5 times out of the last 7 and tonight was no exception. After seeing some, well, interesting picks taken (the Islanders traded up twice to select Calvin de Haan at 12th overall), Lou, David Conte, and the scouting staff noticed that somebody was falling and figured they could make a deal to move up.
Wouldn't you know it, just after the Rangers selected Chris Kreider (because the last project pick they took worked out oh so well), Gary Bettman stepped up to the podium to announce a trade. After stating that Calgary has traded their pick, the crowd at the Rock became alive after announcing New Jersey has swapped first rounders and the Flames picked up the Devils' third round pick (84th overall, so the Devils still have their earlier 3rd rounder that they got from Minnesota at 74th overall.
The New Jersey Devils selected Jacob Josefson of Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League 20th Overall
Here's a Jacob Josefson profile from Eliteprospects with his stats, complete with this very positive scouting report:
Josefson is a highly skilled center. He plays a strong two-way game and is very all-round as a player. Hockey sense is excellent and skating ability and technical skills are above average. Nice creativity with the puck and Josefson is also a talented playmaker and decent goal scorer. However, he could use some work on his shot and not always look for the pass, but to finish plays by himself. Makes smart decisions and plays a mature game. Gets involved in the rough stuff and plays the body at times. Is strong, both physically and mentally, and stands out with his very good defensive game.
D.O. at Die by the Blade and Jim at Blueshirt Banter each has a profile on the player which sums up the player pretty well. D.O.'s profile actually highlights why he was available this late - he's not necessarily a great center and the projection is a two-way center, with his offensive game not being that strong. That said, he's got great vision and instincts, he's not bad on the puck, and despite his frame, he's not weak.
What I really like is his experience. While he didn't get a ton of minutes with Djurgarden, sticking with the senior team in the SEL as a 17/18 year old is definitely a big accomplishment. And he played in the World U-18 tournament and in the World Juniors Tournament with Sweden on top of that. OK, he didn't light the world on fire, but that he was accepted at that level is telling of his talent.
Incidentally, after the pick was made, Sherry Ross and Matt Loughlin had a cell phone interview with Josefson that was broadcast on the PA system at the Rock. First off, maybe it was the cell phone, but I think the Devils just drafted a low talker. More importantly, Josefson said that he is planning on playing one more year in Sweden and then wants to make an effort at coming to North America and get acclimated to that game. I think the interview would have gone a lot better had A) Josefson been louder and B) the communication was clearer. Ah, well.
When the Devils traded up, I had two names in my head: Jordan Schroder and Josefson and the Devils got the Swedish pivot. Honestly, I really like the pick and I think it's worth trading up. The Devils still have a third rounder, and they got CSS' 3rd best European skater in the draft (link to NHL.com profile).
Truth be told, I was also swayed by some of your comments as well. Here's two comments by Saugus at my mock draft selection post, who said that he'd be really happy if Josefson was available, and explains why he would be quite happy:
I voted other, not because De Haan is a bad choice at 23, but because Josefson was still on the board in this mock draft. I would be astonished if he was still available at that spot in the real draft this Friday, he’s consistently ranked much higher than that. But clearly he fell here, so it’s possible. I would be pleased if we ended up with De Haan, but jumping for joy if we got Josefson.
I think Josefson’s upside is much higher than a third liner, I would say he’s easily a second liner. He is defensively responsible and willing to get physical, but he’s not primarily a defensive forward or a grinder. There’s a reason Central Scouting has him as the third ranked European skater in the draft, and McKenzie has him at #16 in his prospect rankings; compare that with De Haan at #23. He’s been compared to Zetterberg in terms of his style of play and is considered a low risk pick with decent reward.
But certainly there is talent to be had through the first round, this is a very deep draft and hopefully will go a long way to restocking the Devils’ farm system
Needless to say, Saugus is beaming and/or jumping for joy. Based on this video at NJDTV, so is Lou (not visually, but you can tell with his description). Really! Embedded video and quotes from Gulitti and Chere after the jump.
Lou tells the NHL Network that he feels Josefson is a complete player and that he's close to playing in the league:
Here's some quotes Gulitti got from Lou that further empahsize that he's big on Josefson:
"He’s a complete player," Lamoriello said. "I haven’t seen our draft table as excited as I’ve seen them today in a long time because where we had him ranked and then he didn’t go. Then, you get to point where you say, ‘Maybe he’s going to be close.’ Then, when you get close to where you’re going to draft, maybe four or five picks, that’s the only chance you have of somebody else switching. So, we made some calls and we were able to get Calgary to do it."
Despite playing only 10 minutes a game on the fourth line, he had five goals and 11 assists in 50 games with Djugarden. He struggled at the World Junior Championships, howver, failing to register a point in six games.
The Devils were not scared off by that. Lamoriello said European scout Dan Labraaten "has been following him for a few years."
"He's a center iceman who can do everything on both sides of the puck," Lamoriello said. "He makes other people better than him. He's a passer. He's the type of player -- he's a lefty shot -- that we need."
When Lou Lamoriello is heaping this much praise, then you can't help but think this is a good selection. I don't think this is just confidence or playing nice to the cameras - Lou doesn't do that. So that he's this open and this positive about how good of a player he and his scouts feel Josefson is, you know it's going to turn out to be a good selection.
More encouragingly, Chere has this quote from Josefson, who actually admits a flaw to his game that he knows he needs to work on:
Josefson will play in Sweden next season.
"I think I have to get a little stronger and be a little more selfish on the ice," he said. "I usually look to make a pass rather than take a shot, so I have to start thinking that way more often."
Now that's what I want to see! He not only states one of his issues but already comes out and says he wants to improve upon it the very day he got drafted! Best of luck to you, Josefson! If you can develop the instincts to shoot as well as you apparently pass, then you're going to be in New Jersey in no time!
At the Draft Party, I was pleased with the pick but seeing these comments both on video and to the beat reporters, I'm feeling even better about the move to trade up and snag Josefson. Frankly, I don't think too many Devils fans can complain about the pick.
Tomorrow! I'll leave a FanPost for comments about Rounds 2-7 and I'll update the front page with picks as they come and whatever I can find about them. Thank you all for your support and comments in the open thread. And I'll see you tomorrow!