Walking into the 2017 NHL Draft with 10 (possibly 11 dependent on the fate of the 2017 7th rounder) selections, including the first overall means that the New Jersey Devils have some draft muscle that they can flex moving forward. With a number of good NHLers headed for free agency, General Manager Ray Shero could part with some picks to obtain a player’s rights, even if it’s just for a short window in the case of unrestricted free agents. He could also look to pull off another Shero Special and send a few picks to a team needing cap space in order to acquire a good player on the cusp as he has done before.
In addition to the already mentioned first overall pick, New Jersey also currently possesses the 36th overall pick (their own) and the 50th overall pick (acquired from the Boston Bruins last season as part of the Lee Stempniak trade) in the second round. The Devils also own the 63rd pick from Colorado from when we gave them the gift of Eric Gelinas. The Devils have some other later picks (including #84 from the San Jose Sharks) but it is these 3 that I feel we should focus on, as they’re numerically similar to the last trade Shero made involving draft picks for a player.
As Devils fans should remember, June 26th, 2015 was a pretty good day for our team; not only did we use our 6th overall pick to select Pavel Zacha, but we also bundled one of our 2nd and one of our 3rd round picks to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Kyle Palmieri. While it didn’t change the team’s overall fortune right away, it certainly gave us some pieces and some hope for the future. Palms went on to become a 30 goal scorer in his first season in New Jersey, and followed that up with a 26 goal effort this past year. Zacha struggled through his rookie season, but started to come on strong in the second half; here’s hoping he continues to build on that!
Now back to Palmieri for one moment; even if we say that from this point forward he tops out as a 25 goal scorer, he’s still more useful than the players chosen with the picks we gave up. Ryan Gropp was selected with the 2nd rounder, and his NHLE goals for last season was 9.45; even if we generously round up to 10, the 3rd round selection was gave up (Rem Pitlick) is nowhere close to an NHLE of 15. Palmieri is the more useful player now and should continue to be the most effective player in that deal in the future as well.
As CJ wrote about yesterday, the Devils have a lot of chips to play with, and I think Shero needs to put some into play the same way he did to get Palms. There are a number of teams that are either cap-strapped, in danger of losing a good player to expansion, or both. Chicago, Tampa, Washington, Minnesota and Anaheim all come to mind immediately, and while they may prefer to simply lose whoever they lose to Las Vegas, they may also be willing to play ball and recoup some assets while losing a lesser player instead.
I’m not entirely sure who the Devils will exactly be targeting (and maybe you guys can make some suggestions in the comments) but I assume it would be for defense this time around, rather than for a forward. Their moves might also depend on what the other teams do beforehand (such as who the Capitals target to attempt to re-sign from their crop of free agents) so it could be next to impossible to pin down who actually could be available for the “Palmieri Price.”
I would like to see Shero send a few of those draft picks away for some more immediate help; with Nico/Nolan joining the fold more than likely right away next year, the Devils will need some additional pieces to be competitive right off the bat. Acquiring a d-man for some draft picks (and hopefully signing another in free agency) could help cure what ails this team.
Who would you like to see Ray Shero poach with his draft picks? Would you be willing to offer both seconds for the right player? Both seconds and #63? Do you think anyone parts with an NHL player since all teams will already be losing one? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!