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An Early Look at Potential Devils Draft Picks

Last year, the Devils had to focus on the draft quite a bit because of their top 5 draft pick they got by winning the Draft Lottery. When it came down to drafting, the decision ended up being a no-brainer, taking Adam Larsson with the 4th overall pick. This year, it's not that simple. The Devils are more than likely going to end up with a mid-first round pick (i.e. 10th-20th overall) this year, and it could either be higher or lower based on the team's performance this year. This of course means that the team will have a tougher decision to make. Here's a short rundown of potential 1st round picks that the Devils could take, as well as a few other interesting names who could be picked up later in the draft.

Brendan Gaunce (C- Belleville, OHL)

2011-12 stats: 21-23-44 in 45 GP

Height/weight: 6'2/215 lbs

Central Scouting Rank: 11th amongst NA Skaters

Brendan Gaunce is perhaps the best power forward type player in the draft. At 6'2 215 lbs, Gaunce is bigger than a good majority of the draft eligible players. While his point totals aren't nearly as impressive as Yakupov's or Grigorenko, he brings a very complete game to the table. He can hit, lead, score and play all 200 ft of the ice. Belleville Bulls Junior Coach says that "he doesn't have a chink in his armor", in reference to his game. Some scouts however make note that he's not a very good skater. Some people are also concerned about his offensive upside as well.

Zemgus Girgensons (C- Dubuque, USHL)

2011-12 stats: 13-18-31 in 26 GP

Height/Weight 6'1.5/198 lbs

CSS Rank: 12th amongst NA Skaters

The Latvian forward has been somewhat of a surprise in the prospect rankings. Girgensons plays a hard-nosed two way game, which has some people comparing him to Canucks forward Ryan Kesler. Like Gaunce, he does provide a solid all-around game. Despite being of Latvian descent, he serves as Captain of the Dubuque Fighting Saints and is currently leading one of the top teams in the league. He's also committed to Vermont and instead opted to stay with Dubuque rather than play in the QMJHL or WHL. The most common complaint about Girgensons is that he needs to put on weight, which isn't much of a problem. Scouts have also mentioned that he's not the fastest skater out there.

Sebastian Collberg (RW- Frolunda JR, SEL)

2011-12 stats: 5-9-14 in 14 GP

Height/weight 5'11/175 lbs

CSS Rank: 2nd Amongst European Skaters

Unlike Gaunce and Girgensons, Collberg is a much smaller player who relies on his superior skill as his calling card. Collberg had a solid performance at this year's WJC-U20, with 7 points in 6 games and a gold medal. He has very high offensive upside and is considered one of the better offensive prospects in this year's draft. His speed and shot are amongst his strengths. Collberg's weaknesses have to be his lack of size and strength, as he'll likely get knocked off the puck easily at higher levels. He's also weak defensively and is a perimeter player- which isn't a bad thing, but he'll need to go through traffic if he wants to succeed at the NHL level.

Martin Frk (RW- Halifax, QMJHL)

2011-12 Stats: 5-5-10 in 14 GP

Height/Weight: 5'11.5/200 lbs

CSS Rank: 25th amongst NA Skaters

Frk hasn't been very noticeable this season because he's spent most of his season on IR. His concussion issues are the biggest problem here- in his return in December, he only put up 1 point in 7 games, and ruled himself out of the WJCs. He's starting to come around, with 9 of his 10 points coming in his last 7. Kirk Luedeke mentions that he's got significant offensive upside, and brings a somewhat chippy game. He brings a lot to the table and should be a top 10 pick. However, those concussion issues are going to keep teams away from drafting the talented Czech.

Cody Ceci (D- Ottawa, OHL)

2011-12 stats: 10-34-44 in 44 GP

Height/Weight: 6'2.5/207 lbs

CSS Rank: 16th amongst NA Skaters

I've focused on forward prospects here, mainly because of the Devils lack of offensive prospects. Ceci might be one of the few Defensive prospects that I'm interested in. He logs big minutes on Ottawa's blue line and possesses both great size and skating abilities. His offensive skills aren't too shabby however, as he's scoring at a point per game rate as a defenseman. He has the tools to be a successful NHL defenseman. He doesn't have a very good defensive game however, although another year in the OHL could change that. While the Devils don't need a Defenseman, Ceci is one of the few defensemen I wouldn't pass on. Jon Steitzer has a good writeup of Ceci over at Puck Drunk Love.

Thomas Wilson (RW- Plymouth, OHL)

2011-12 stats: 6-15-21 in 39 GP

Height/weight: 6'4/203 lbs

CSS Rank: 33rd amongst NA Skaters

Wilson is one of my two choices for a player who could be picked later on in the draft. Wilson's rise has likely been due to a hot start, putting up 13 points in his first 16 games. He's cooled off abit, with 8 points in his last 23. Wilson provides a lot of physicality and good skill for a big winger. He also posseses decent finishing skills. His massive size is a plus, however unlike most power forwards Wilson has been known for his intelligence. From this interview on Buzzing the Net, he seems to understand the boundaries of what's good and what's bad in terms of hitting. He could prove to be a solid 2nd/3rd line winger, or potentially better.

Nick Ebert (D- Windsor, OHL)

2011-12 stats: 3-20-23 in 47 GP

Height/Weight: 5'11/200 lbs

CSS Rank: 70th amongst NA Skaters

Coming into this year, Ebert was considered a top 10 pick- potentially even a top 5 pick. However, he's been god awful for the majority of this season, hence the reason he's fallen so far. Some scouts mention that Ebert tries to do "too much" on the ice. Here's what NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards had to say about Ebert this year:

He skates well, but his decision making has been suspect. I’ve seen him play well in the past and he has the skill set, skates well and has a good shot. When he’s keeping his game simple and moving the puck, that’s when he’s most effective, but I haven’t seen him do that. It’s been more giveaways and bad decisions

So why include a prospect who's stock's been dropping faster than Enron's? Keep in mind there have been a lot of top prospects who have seen their stock fall in the season and end up bouncing back. The Devils have taken chances with some troubled prospects (the most recent example being Jon Merrill), and Ebert does have the potential to be a very good value pick if they grab him in the 2nd or 3rd round.

Your Thoughts

These are my choices for potential draft picks for the Devils. While you don't exactly have to agree on all my choices, I'd like to hear what you have to say about some of the prospects that I've named and some that I may have missed. Leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.