After being idle through the fourth round, the New Jersey Devils went back to the Western Hockey League with their fifth round pick. At 131st overall, they selected defenseman Ryan Rehill of the Kamloops Blazers. According to Elite Prospects, Rehill stands stall at 6'3" and 214 pounds. He also frequented the penalty box, given his career stats at EP:
I can't say I'm thrilled based on the numbers. Not so much with the scoring but 182 PIM? That's not a good thing from a skater, much less one of the six defensemen who suit up in a game. Yet, it's what helped make him stick out. Consider this profile of Rehill by Eldon MacDonald at The Hockey Writers. Yes, he actually called him the King of Truculence. Here's a part of that; what he wrote about his defensive game:
Defense – Ryan is that truculent stay-at-home defenseman who plays with an edge and is hard to play against. He is excellent one on one, plays with an active stick and can deliver Douglas Murray-like bone jarring hits. He is an effective leader and team player as his -4 (on a team where most of the players were in the -20s up to the -40s) indicates. Like Douglas Murray, he is not Mr. All-Skills but he does combine enough skill with the Douglas Murray hard physicality that makes him a worthwhile prospect who put smiles on the faces of his teammates, his coaches and his team’s fans alike. You could say that Ryan Rehill has that "Gordie Howe trifecta for defensemen" game – team play first, then hard defense and finally, fighting if necessary.
It's the fifth round, so it's difficult to get terribly excited one way or another. That said, the Devils did not need to pick Rehill. They have plenty of defensive prospects. Stay-at-home defensemen are going to be less and less desirable as more and more in hockey realize the importance of possession and contributing in transition. Someone who takes a ton of calls to go along with it is even less useful. Sure, Douglas Murray is a NHL veteran but he hasn't been good for quite some time; it's a telling comparable. In my opinion, the team should be taking some risks on those with some offensive potential after eschewing it in the second and third rounds. But David Conte and his scouts' boards say otherwise.
What's your reaction to this selection? What do you think of Ryan Rehill? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this pick in the comments.