The New Jersey Devils have a first round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Level Draft. I point that out because it wasn't true a few months ago. With a shocking turn of events, the NHL decided to alter their punishment to the Devils over the Kovalchuk contract fiasco and returned their first round pick. There are a few stipulations, though - it cannot be traded, and regardless of how the season turned out, it was going to be a 30th overall pick. With all of that said, we get to speculate who the Devils will pick with their six picks on June 27th in Philadelphia.
Just like last year, we will be looking at various draft eligible players the Devils may draft leading up to the main event in June. Our first profile will be on a possible first round pick with a well known last name in the hockey world - John Quenneville.
Who is John Quenneville?
Recognize the name? John is the second cousin of the Chicago Blackhawks head coach, Joel Quenneville and the brother of Peter Quenneville, drafted in the seventh round, 195th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets last year.
John is a 6'1" 187 lbs. multi-talented forward. He played both center and left wing during his impressive season with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL in 2013-2014. He was also a member of the bronze medal winning U-18 Canada team.
While he isn't a huge guy, he has a physical edge to his game and uses his strong frame to his advantage. Not only is he not afraid to drop the gloves, but he also uses his shoulders and frame to protect the puck. He needs work to become the well-rounded player he wants to be in each zone, but his habits and playing tendencies show he can get there.
He was close to a point per game player last season and has great hockey instincts. He really upped his game during his draft year. To give an example to how much he elevated his game this season, he more than tripled his point total from the previous year. In fact, he improved so much that his ranked moved from 34 to 23 and he was moved to the "A Watch" list on nhl.com and became a possible first round pick.
What experts are saying about Quenneville:
His improvement this season is what Quenneville get's the most praise for, but there is a lot of respect for his style of play, as well. Central Scouting's David Gregory had this to say,
"I liked [Quenneville] a lot when I saw him. He has the pro makeup and is a hard-worker. He makes good plays very quickly and is good at moving the puck. I'd like to see more consistency from him, but I like the way he finds open spaces and his ability to make any kind of pass."
"He's an industrial forward that has the ability to create offense from below the goal line while displaying good open ice skills. He's a solid skater that uses his balance and wide shoulders to fend off opponents and he has a deceivingly hard shot on both the forehand and backhand."
"He will definitely need to work on his foot speed while continuing to develop his effectiveness as a 200-foot player."
First up is a goal Quenneville scored for Canada in the U-18 tournament in April. It's a nice goal after a turnover.
As noted above, Quenneville isn't afraid to get physical. He had five fighting majors last season, including this bout with Tyler Robertson from the Edmonton Oil Kings.
With his creativity on the ice and passing ability, I wouldn't mind taking John Quenneville with the 30th pick. While I'd prefer a bigger scoring threat, he is a talented forward who can play more than one position and has improved greatly as he's developed.
It's nice to see that he has improved each season. He has much more room to get better, but he shows the work ethic and drive to get there. He compares his game to Anze Kopitar and I would not mind having a player like that in the Devils lineup every night at all. Kopitar leads the LA Kings in scoring in the playoffs and was the leader during the regular season, as well. If Quenneville is going to play like Kopitar at the professional level, he has a lot of work to do, but his style is similar.
What do you think of John Quenneville? Do you think he would be a good choice for the Devils' first round draft pick? Should go earlier than 30th or later? Please leave your thoughts and comments on the Devils taking Quenneville below. Thanks for reading!