We are right in the middle of the 2017 NHL Draft and the New Jersey Devils have been very active with multiple picks in the third round. For their second pick of the third round, the Devils selected Reilly Walsh from the Chicago Steel (USHL) and Proctor Academy (USHS) with the 81st overall pick. Walsh, a 5'10, 184 lbs. right handed defenseman, is committed to Harvard University for next fall.
I was initially a little bit surprised with the pick with the likes of defensemen like David Farrance and Markus Phillips still on the board. With that said, Walsh is a solid prospect in his own right and was ranked at 91st overall by the consensus rankings taken from multiple draft sources over at Habs Eye on the Prize. At least from that we know he was selected about where he should've been. According to EliteProspects, Walsh was born on April 21, 1999 so he's coming off of his age 17 season. He put up a solid 10 points in 24 games with Chicago (USHL) and an impressive 69 points in 30 games for Proctor Academy in New Hampshire. Last August he played for the USA U18 entry at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Let's see what others have to say on the young defenseman.
First let's take a look over at what Bill Placzek had to say on Draftsite:
Possibly the best Eastern Prep school prospect in the class. He is a bit undersized, but no one can deny his superb skating and offensive talent as he lead all scores as a dee-man. Has great pace to his game, and can get up ice in transition and put the puck right in front of his teammates, ripe for picking. As this juncture, he doesn’t have the size to handle his own end with dominance, but makes up for that with a strong work ethic, and on ice smarts. Hustles, using his feet and stick to corral the biscuit and transition it out. Terrific on the power play with his wrister and the way he uses the extra time and space to create offensive looks.
Next, here's some of what Jeff Hawkins of The Hockey Writers had to say:
Known for his flashy skating, Walsh is undersized and will need to hit the weight room to add muscle to his frame to remain competitive in the upper levels.
If an organization intends to use the 2017 NHL Draft to inject additional offense from the blueline, Walsh could provide it with an early- to mid-round selection. Walsh’s size is a concern but it likely will be trumped by his skating ability and offensive touch.
Finally, Stephen Harris of the Boston Herlad has this article on Walsh with plenty of quotes from Walsh, his father - former Islander Mike Walsh, and a NHL Scout. This is what the scout had to say about Walsh:
“He can move pucks, and he can really shoot it,” said one NHL scout who projects Walsh as a likely second-round pick. “It’s going to take a little adjustment for him, going into Harvard as a true freshman. But I really like him. There are a lot of comparisons to (the Nashville Predators’ Roman) Josi. I’m not saying he’s as far along as Josi, but he plays that kind of style. He likes to get up the ice and attack. He almost plays like a forward.”
There isn’t a ton of video out there on Walsh. Around the 30 second mark of this video you can see him be proactive in the offensive zone to help set up a goal for USA:
Overall, I am happy with this selection. While I would've preferred a more two-way defender, I like that the Devils kept their focus on a player that can skate well and contribute offensively. He'll have plenty of time to fill out his frame and improve defensively for Harvard over the next 3-4 years. I think this is a fine selection to make with a second third round pick given the potential Walsh has.
I welcome Reilly Walsh to the New Jersey Devils organization. I wish him the best of luck in his development within the organization.
Stay tuned to this page as I will update it throughout the day with more information and reaction about the player. Now that you've read my initial reaction and know a bit about the prospect, let me know what you think of the selection in the comments. Do you agree or disagree with the pick? What are your expectations for this player going forward? Also, please vote in the poll below to let us know how you feel about the pick. Thank you for reading!
The New Jersey Devils drafted Reilly Walsh at 81st overall (3rd Rd). What do you think about the pick?
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