If Hockey's Future is to be believed (as a general rule, website yes, forums no) then our New Jersey Devils are in bad shape when it comes to right wing prospects. The list amounts to one name: Connor Chatham, and he's not guaranteed to be a success story. With six picks in the upcoming NHL draft (five of their own and one from the Florida Panthers), the Devils will need to be looking for a few right wingers; one name that may wind up standing out to them in the late rounds is Deven Sideroff.
Who is Deven Sideroff?
A current member of the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, Deven Sideroff was born in that very city of British Columbia, Canada on April 14th, 1997. He started his young career with the Okanagan Hockey Academy; he would play for their Prep team in 2012-13 and 2013-14 as well as spending some time with the Midget team in 2013-14. He also would have a two game stint with the Blazers in 2012-13 where he recorded his first goal and assist. He would see another 12 games with Kamloops in 2013-14 before heading there full time for this past season; here are his complete stats from Elite Prospects:
According to CHLstats.com, Sideroff's 42 points were good enough to tie him for third in scoring on Kamloops. His points per game left him in third alone at 0.66 trailing only his linemates Cole Ully (drafted in 2013 by the Dallas Stars) and Matt Needham (who has been draft eligible, but was not selected) in this area. His NHL point equivalency was only 14, but there's still plenty of room for him to grow, both as a point producer, and as an undersized 176 pounds on his 5'11" frame. He's projected to be a late pick however, which means there's no expectation for him to join an NHL team immediately if he's drafted; it's all but a guarantee that he will be sent back to the WHL for some more preparation and seasoning.
What Others Have Said About Sideroff
Heading right back to the ever informative Elite Prospects, Curtis Joe had nothing but compliments and praise for Sideroff's game, even stating that he's already playing at a level that is beyond his years:
An offensive winger with tremendous work ethic and determination. Possesses quick feet and quick hands to go along with a high level of thinking when it comes to coming up big in the game's key moments. Good vision and compliments his linemates on the rush. Shoots the puck on-net when he has the puck in a good position, and when he isn't in a good position he can hold onto the puck or make a quick play to a teammate. All-in-all, a smart hockey player with noticeable speed and determination; plays above his age level.
Lots of positives going on here, but what stands out the most is that he puts the puck on net; how many players did we all have conniptions about the past couple of seasons for shooting and missing the net?
Bill Placzek of NHL Draft Site echoed a few of Joe's thoughts in his report on Deven:
A leading scorer in the Canadien Sport School Hockey League, he has graduated and made a smooth transition onto the Blazer's roster. He is light on his edges, good in traffic and a tight space shooter with plenty of touch.
I like the mention here that he's good in traffic; I think a lot of our players right now struggle once they lose their open space, and having a player in the organization that is the opposite would be nice. Good skating and shooting abilities are also coveted by New Jersey right now, and any chance that we could draft a player that one day could contribute to the main club is a chance the Devils need to take right now.
In an interview with Adam Williams of Hockey Now, Sideroff spoke of his success with Kamloops this past season. Williams also had this tidbit about him in the article:
Sideroff acknowledged that areas of his game still need work. He said he needs to learn to be more patient with the puck and more aware of his surroundings.
I thought it was important to add this in this section because it reveals a good deal about the type of individual that Sideroff is; he's a person who is willing to admit fault in his game and wants to learn to improve as he goes. There are always rumors of players said to be nightmares or flat out "uncoachable" so having a positive attitude like this in an NHL organization can go a long way to improving not only the individual player, but also the team.
A Little Video
For video, Shaw TV Kamloops had a nice report on #34 for the Blazers:
If nothing else, the video does a great job showing how well Sideroff skates, both in terms of acceleration and turning; it doesn't really show much of his offensive prowess, and also seems to indicate that his positioning may need some work, at least in my opinion.
I feel as though my prospect profiles are becoming fight-heavy because every search I conduct yields mostly fight results; so without further ado, here's Deven facing off with Tyler Morrison of the Tri-City Americans.
It's hard to see who initiates the scuffle, and there winds up being no clear victor either; all I can say is I like a player who isn't afraid of a little physicality during the game.
An Opinion of Sorts
I have to stress the same point that I made last week when I state that barring any trades leading up to the draft, New Jersey's only later picks are their 4th round choice (#97) and their 6th round selection (#157); while late rounders are never sure things, the Devils need to do the best they can with these picks to start repairing the prospect pool. NHL Draft Prospects has Sideroff being taken in the 5th round with the 127th pick which is ironically originally our pick that we sent to the St. Louis Blues for Matt D'Agostini.
I feel that the fourth round might be a bit too early to scoop up a player like Sideroff; while I like his game, I think there are going to be some better players available at that spot. If he slips into the sixth round, where he was originally projected to be taken, I think the Devils would be wise to grab him. He's had a surprisingly good rookie season for the Blazers, and while he may be largely unproven (and could regress if you remove him from a line with the team's leading scorers), by all accounts he has some tools that our organization is currently lacking offensively. Oh, also he's a right wing; we could use some of those in general.
The one thing that makes me wary of taking Sideroff is the fact that I haven't seen anything speaking about his ability to play both ends of the ice. The Devils don't need to draft any players that are the equivalent of a young Michael Ryder; we all saw how well the actual, more proven Michael Ryder worked out for our team. Sideroff does seem to have good skating ability and work ethic though, so I think that even if his defensive game was lacking, it's something that he would take the time to perfect. If he lasts until round six, and his name is called at 157th overall, I wouldn't be unhappy; at the very least, he fills an organizational need.
Now I'd like to hear your thoughts about Deven Sideroff; is he the type of prospect you'd like to see New Jersey draft in the later rounds? Do you think he will be selected before we get a chance to choose him? Do you think the Devils will pass him over even if he's available in round six? Do his strengths outweigh any possible weaknesses you perceive in his game? Leave any and all comments below and as always thank you for reading!