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New Jersey Devils 2010 NHL Draft Preview

Lou doesn't have a lot of picks, but you only need a few to make it to have a successful draft. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
Lou doesn't have a lot of picks, but you only need a few to make it to have a successful draft. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
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Tomorrow is the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and the New Jersey Devils will not be a part of it.  No, they traded their 2010 first round pick to Atlanta - which has since been traded to Chicago - in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade.  Therefore, they will be simply observing short of a shocking deal happening tomorrow.  Don't sleep on the second day of the draft, though.  Good talent may be available beyond the first round this year.  All the same, please use this as a preview for what you may want to know going into the next two days.

How Can I Follow the Draft?

VERSUS will be airing the first round at 7 PM EDT through 10:30 PM EDT.  TSN will take care of coverage in Canada.  As for the second day, the NHL Network will be airing rounds 2 through 7 at 1 PM EDT through about 4:30 PM EDT.   If you're in the Los Angeles area, consider going to the NHL Entry Draft live.

As far as online coverage, the NHL has set up this separate section of their site just for the draft.  Also, stick with SBNation as some of the network's bloggers will be covering the event live.  I am not in LA, so I'll be following along just as you may be on Saturday (except, of course, during the crucial USA World Cup game).

What are the 2010 New Jersey Devils Draft Picks?

The New Jersey Devils have five picks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft as of right now.  Per, here's the official listing of picks:

38th overall (2nd round); 84th (3rd round); 114th (4th round); 174th (6th round); 204th (7th round)

The Devils and Thrashers swapped second round picks in the Kovalchuk trade, so the Devils are higher than where they finished for the second round.  In addition to moving the first round pick in a trade, the Devils traded a fifth round pick to Toronto for Martin Skoula back at the trade deadline.  Hence, the Devils only have the listed picks.

Read on further after the jump to get further prepared for the NHL Draft from a New Jersey Devils perspective.

Are the Devils Doing Anything for the Draft?

Sort of. They're not-so-coincidentally having their annual equipment sale during the same afternoon the Devils will be making their picks this Saturday.  It's a free, family-friendly event at the Rock with other events including some kind of Family Feud thing between Bruce Driver and Grant Marshall.   I have no idea whether they'll air NHL Network's coverage of the draft, but given how fast the second day goes, it's not as if every player will be broken down in detail.

How Have the Devils Done in the Draft?

Depends on what time period you're talking about.  From 2006 onward, it doesn't look too bad.  There are still high hopes for Matthew Corrente, Jacob Josefson, and Mattias Tedenby; lower round picks like Adam Henrique and Alexander Urbom have gotten some fans excited; Vladimir Zharkov is on the cusp of being a NHL regular, and many are still in the development process.   While none of those picks have broken through to the NHL, the Devils have traded Patrice Cormier and Matt Halischuk.  They were in deals that got the Devils NHL-caliber assets, so New Jersey got some value out of them. 

However, from 1999 through 2005, the Devils have done very poorly in terms of number of successful draft picks.  By "very poorly," I mean among the worst in the league.  Ouch.  Even worse, Derek Zona also found that not only did Russian picks from that time period weren't so successful, but the Devils picked 9 of them - often late in drafts - none of them "made it" into the NHL.   And before you say that Zharkov is breaking that trend, keep in mind he was a 2006 draft pick and so he wouldn't count.

For a full history of the Devils' draft picks from 1982 through 2009, HockeyDB maintains an excellent guide as to who was picked and their basic stats at the NHL level.   For a different take on draft analysis, daoust at Pension Plan Puppets has an update draft and analysis spreadsheets from 1994 onward.  It's even PPP-approved.

In terms of draft tendencies, the Devils value talent more than necessarily a type or location of the player. The Devils haven't drafted anyone directly from the NCAA in recent years; instead, they have drafted several players from Junior A and Tier II junior leagues who went on to college.  Lou and the scouting staff still like the college process.  They aren't insular, though. They do look to Europe for prospects both for early and late trounds, and they are quite familiar with taking players out of the OHL and QMJHL in recent seasons.  Scott Reynolds at the Copper & Blue put up an excellent chart detailing the recent tendencies of where NHL teams draft their prospects from the last 5 years.

What's Lou Thinking?

Tom Gulitti had an interview with Lou Lamoriello today.  He posted the questions and answers at Fire & Ice.  Gulitti didn't get the sense that Lou would make a move for a first rounder, but picking up another lower round pick may be more likely.  Of course, you can never tell with Lou - he just busts out trades when he sees it's appropriate.  Outside of that, who the Devils draft will depend largely on who will be available.

What are You Thinking for the Draft?

For the love of all things that are good and beautiful, the Devils should not draft a goaltender. The last goaltender to "make it" in the NHL that was drafted by the Devils was Scott Clemmensen in 1997 as an eighth round pick. J-F Damphousse didn't make it from that draft.  Ari Ahonen from 1999 didn't make it. Matus Kostur from 2000 didn't make it. Jason Smith from 2003 didn't make it. Josh Disher from 2004 didn't make it.   The only hope the Devils have in the system is Jeff Frazee, a second rounder from 2005, and he needs to win the starting job in Albany in the coming year before thinking about stepping up to the next level.

Yes, the Devils do not have a lot of goalies in the system.  That doesn't mean the Devils should burn their 38th overall pick on a goalie.  Past history has shown this to be an unwise use of the pick.  Want more reasons? Read this article by Corey Pronman at Puck Prospectus and you will further understand that unless New Jersey absolutely thinks a goalie prospect can turn out to be someone great, the Devils should avoid taking a netminder early.  Get one later, or better yet, don't draft one and sign one of the many undrafted goalies available for depth.

That said, it really does depend on who is available, but I wouldn't mind if the prospect selected was a little "safe."  While the Devils don't have a lot of offensive flair in their pipeline (and it wouldn't hurt to add some), I'll gladly take a two-way player if it means he'll be likely to get into the NHL and be useful.  The Devils have not had a lot of success with their second round picks in this decade, with Paul Martin being the last second round pick to turn into a (very effective) NHL player.  I'd like that to change with this year at least. 

Essentially, I don't want a goalie, I want a prospect who has a reasonable upside with a reasonable chance of making it into the NHL.   Fortunately, there appear to be a lot of prospects that aren't total risks available; so I hope I'll get what I want and hopefully whoever it is could become a player at the next level.

Who Can Be There at 38th Overall?

I've done a number of profiles of potential second round picks, ranging from the likely to the reaches (in both directions).  Here's the ones that I've done:

Petr Straka - Incidentally, he may be around at #38, though some rank him as a low first rounder.  Strong first season of North American hockey, could be better in second year.  I would really like it if he was picked there, and I think you should be too. If not, read the profile and you'll see what I mean. 

Incidentally, among the other SBN writers, we did a mock draft of the second round. Straka was available, and I took him immediately.  So if you must demand that I state a player that I would like the Devils to pick among all else, then I'd take Straka.

Beau Bennett - He may seem like a boom-or-bust prospect, but he could very well be in the first round at this rate. Others have wavered, The Scouting Report listed him as 38th on their rankings.

Ryan Spooner - Excellent playmaking center, the Devils could use that in the system.  Will he be around though? If so, would it be because of his broken collarbone undercutting his season?

Charlie Coyle - He's big, he's in USA Hockey's sights, and he comes from a really weak junior league. If he falls to #38, I'd be quite pleased if he was picked, though.

Brock Beukeboom - He's still learning the position, but he had a big growing year in Sault Ste. Marie and tends to better when he's physical.  Yet, he may project to be a two-way defenseman. Could be a reach at #38

Brad Ross - Ross is a pest but showed some hands and production with Portland.  Possibly a future David Clarkson-like player, something that the Devils don't really have in their system.

Johan Larsson - A definite wildcard.  He's a hard worker but his offense didn't wow anyone until the World U-18s.  Could go high in second round, or go right near the end of the second.  It depends on how you judged his international performances.

Want more? SBN Hockey has done a ton of profiles focusing on many players in the league.  The Western College Hockey Blog has done an excellent job in compiling all of them from the network. So if you see a prospect you don't know much about, then check out the list.  You may find and learn something about said player there.  Here are a few that could be called out by the Devils in round 2:

Mark Alt - WCHB describes him as a risk, but he's big with big upside potential.  The defenseman will go to the University of Minnesota, which should be a great test of his skills.  The Pipeline Show's Guy Flaming tipped Alt to be the Devils pick in his New Jersey draft preview.

Tom Kühnhackl - Derek Zona at the Copper & Blue found a lot to praise about the German forward.  Tom played for the impressively named Landshutt Cannibals, a second division German team - so the competition level isn't impressive.  He will go to Windsor of the OHL next season for further development.   His potential could be worth a 38th overall pick.

Jordan Weal - Matt Wagner at The Cannon noted how offensively talented the dimunitive center was in the WHL: the first 17 year old to break 100 points in over 10 years.  Again, the Devils' system could use some offense as well as another center. Per the profile, Weal could be the man to fill both needs.  Will the offensive positives outweigh his perceived defensive and strength shortcomings?

Bill Arnold - ILWT user C.J.Richey121 did a short profile on the U.S. national developmental team center.  Arnold understands and appreciates that he's a two-way center and a hard working one at that as well.  He's projected to be a checking center, and that may be a safer option given what may be available.

Brandon Archibald - WCHB did a profile on the other touted defender coming from Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL.  Archibald appears to be a more mobile two-way defenseman with solid passing skills, but the looming question is whether Archibald can put all of his skills together more often.  WCHB thinks he may turn out to be a #2 defenseman, which would be far more than acceptable if around at 38th overall.

Alex Petrovic - Andrew Tolliver at The Cannon did a short profile on the Red Deer defenseman. He's big and he knows how to use that size.  More importantly, he showed some offensive skills by putting up more than a few points.  He may turn out to be just a physical defenseman, but that could just be his floor.  His ceiling could go as high as his offense develops.

Brock Nelson - WCHB is mixed on Nelson. He appears to be a big power forward who needs a lot of polish.  The mixed feeling is partially because of the competition he played at (high school) and because of the risk involved with his potential.  Still, his upside is tempting enough that he could very well be a first round pick.  WCHB thinks he's not quite like T.J. Oshie, but could turn out better than Nick Forney, if that helps.  Maybe the Devils bite on him at 38th if he falls?

Teemu Pulkkinen - WCHB notes that he's definitely got first round skills but a terrible list of injuries could scare teams off.  Still showed off his moves by leading the World U-18s in scoring.  I honestly don't know if an oft-injured player would be a good idea for New Jersey; the gamble didn't work with Adrian Foster in 2001, so why try again?  Yet, if the medical staff feels he'll be OK going forward, then he could be a big steal in the second round.

Jason Zucker - WCHB feels he'll be a hardworking, versatile third line forward after college. The other parts of the profile state he's an "all-around" player, which is great.   I don't think his size would scare off the Devils; but his offensive potential could be the reason why he isn't much higher. 

All of these players are possible and so, so many more - just check out the overall list at Western College Hockey Blog.

What if the Devils Draft Someone Who ISN'T Profiled?

Then I, or one of the writers, will try to get as much information posted after they are selected.  The second day of drafting goes so fast, a lot of it will be posted well after-the-fact, but we'll try our best. Of course, you're more than welcome to add your own thoughts.

What About Lower Round Picks? 

Yes, we'll try our best.  In fact, here are a few profiles in advance, regardless if the Devils select them or not.

I've done a profile on Delbarton Green Wave forward Kenny Agostino, who could be a third or fourth round pick.

ILWT User C.J.Richey121 has done some short profiles on two forwards, Jared Knight and Yared Cisse, and on defensemen Matt MacKenzie, Taylor Aronson, and Issac MacLeod.  All could be taken beyond the second round (and some even further than that).  ILWT user RolliePollieKovy put two profiles together for Justin Shugg and Dan Biega, both who could be late second or early third round picks.

Anything Else?

Relax.  The NHL Entry Draft is where prospects get drafted and develop.   We're not going to truly know who was and was not a good pick until well after it's over.  So many things could positively or negatively affect a player's projection in between.  Especially with the Devils having only 5 picks and only one that is early in a round, the 38th overall pick.  2010 can certainly be a successful one, but only if the evaluations hold (which the Devils control via their scouting) and the players develop as expected (which a large part of it is up to them).

Thanks for reading and please leave your thoughts about this coming draft in the comments.