Tonight is the second main event of the 2021 NHL offseason. It is the two-day experience that will be a high point for over 200 young hockey players and a point of interest for all 32 NHL teams. It is the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. This evening is all about the first round. Saturday late morning to the afternoon is all about the other six. After many profiles, mock drafts, and more, it is time for one last post ahead of the 2021 NHL Draft. This is your 2021 NHL Draft Preview for the New Jersey Devils.
The Event: The 2021 NHL Draft
The Location: N/A. Again. The NHL studios in Secaucus, New Jersey will again be a hub, but everyone will make their selections from remote locations for another year.
The First Day: Friday, July 23, 2021
The Rounds Selected on the First Day: The First Round
The First Day Start Time: 8:00 PM ET
The First Day Broadcast: TV - ESPN2, Sportsnet, Sportsnet Now, TVAS
The First Day Picks for the Devils: The Devils own the 4th and 29th overall picks in the first round.
The 4th overall pick is a result of the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery. Buffalo and Seattle won the first two picks, so the Devils ended up in fourth. The 29th pick was acquired from New York Islanders back in April. The Devils traded Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac for the Islanders’ first round pick in 2021, a conditional fourth round pick in 2022, Mason Jobst, and AJ Greer. As the Isles went all the way to the Conference Finals with Tampa Bay, the pick ended up being 29th overall.
The Second Day: Saturday, July 24, 2021
The Rounds Selected on the Second Day: The Second Round to the Seventh Round
The Second Day Start Time: 11:00 AM ET
The Second Day Broadcast: TV - NHL Network, Sportsnet, Sportsnet Now, TVAS
The Second Day Picks for the Devils: The Devils currently have five picks for the second day.
- Third round - 68th overall
- Fourth round - 100th overall
- Fifth round - 129th overall
- Sixth round - 164th overall
- Seventh round - 203rd overall
The third, fourth, and sixth round picks are the Devils’ own picks. They own Buffalo’s fifth rounder as the return from trading Wayne Simmonds back in February 2020. The Devils’ own fifth rounder (132nd overall) was sent to Columbus back in October 2020 for Ryan Murray. They own Arizona’s seventh round pick as the exchange for sending a seventh rounder to Arizona in 2020 (used on Elliot Ekefjard). The Devils’ own seventh rounder (196th overall) was sent to Tampa Bay way back when they acquired Louis Domingue in November 2019.
The Devils do not own any picks in the second round. Their original second round pick is currently owned by Las Vegas as part of the deal for Nikita Gusev. That pick is now 36th overall. The Devils did have the Islanders’ second round pick from the Andy Greene trade in February 2020. However, the Devils sent that pick to Colorado along with Mikhail Maltsev to get Ryan Graves last week. So now the Avs own 61st overall.
Will the Devils Use All of These Picks?: Maybe.
Tom Fitzgerald had his first draft as the General Manager last year and picks were moved right up until the 2020 NHL Draft began. Not big ones, but a fifth and a seventh rounder. Just last week, the Devils moved a late second round pick. It is not impossible to think that another deal could be made that could alter their draft plans. Maybe even likely.
With the uncertainty surrounding this year’s draft class, I do think there will be some movement amid the draft order during the draft itself. The 29th overall pick could be enticing for someone who wants to trade back into the first round. A trade back to pick up extra picks for later may have some merit to it if the Devils’ scouting staff believes there is not a big difference between who is at 29th overall and, say, 40th overall.
Personally, I think the only picks to not move at all are the first rounders this year, next year, and even in 2023. Anything else may be fair game. As always, it depends on what the offers are.
Who Do You Think the Devils Will Draft?: If it were up to us, then it would be defenseman Luke Hughes of the United States National Team Development Program. He was our pick in our internal mock draft and the SBN mock draft. He was a frequent name in our mock draft roundup. If it is not going to be Luke Hughes, then the second favorite name is defenseman Brandt Clarke. The general feeling is that a defenseman will be taken at fourth overall. As much as I can get on board with a William Eklund selection (assuming he doesn’t go top three like he probably should), I agree with the general sentiment.
For 29th overall, your guess is as good as mine. In the SBN mock draft, our choice was forward Simon Robertsson. In the AAtJ Mock Draft, it was...well, no one we could agree upon. The current poll in the post has the answer. In the mock draft round up, it was a menagerie of players ranging from big forwards (e.g. Colton Dach) to raw defensmen (e.g. Shai Buium) to “safer” picks (e.g. Francesco Pinelli). This is even presuming the Devils keep the 29th overall pick.
In general, there are some trends to look out for. Fitzgerald kept the Ray Shero-Paul Castron tradition of selecting at least one goaltender in the draft with Nico Daws last season. I would not be shocked if one of the picks on the second day of the draft is for a goaltender (and if Sebastian Cossa is available at 29th overall, then, hey, why not). You should not be either.
The Devils have been unafraid of selecting some interesting talent out of Europe with later picks. Jesper Bratt, Mikhail Maltsev, and Yegor Sharangovich have already proved their worth to a degree. There is reason to be confident that a couple out of Arseni Gritsyuk, Aarne Talvitie, and Nikola Pasic, and Eetu Pakkila may work out as either a future trade chip or a NHL player. The Devils’ scouts outside of North America could find even more to join them on Saturday.
The Devils have been consistent also with drafting players out of the OHL with at least one per year since 2016. (Four in 2015 with Shero and David Conte) Since there was no OHL season in 2021-22, that streak could be broken. Or not.
Oh, and if the 2019 draft class and the Shakir Mukhamadullin selection from last year mean anything, then Tom Fitzgerald may prefer some beefy defenders to be taken. With multiple in the system now, maybe that desire has been met. But it is something else to keep in the back of your mind.
Where Can I See All of the Prospect Profiles Done at AAtJ This Year?: If you want to do some last minute reading, here is a list of all of the prospect profiles we have done this year as a group. It is heavily first round based given the uncertainty of this year’s draft class and the Devils owning two first round picks this year. Here is how I would tier the players with the links going to our prospect profile posts:
Likely First Round Forwards: Fabian Lysell, Aatu Raty, Chaz Lucius, Cole Sillinger, Simon Robertsson, Isak Rosen, Oskar Olausson, Nikita Chibrikov, Zachary L’Heureux, Fyodor Svechkov, Mackie Samsokevich, Matthew Coronato
Special thanks to Brian for organizing the list of prospect profiles for this year. Thanks to Brian, Alex, Mike, Jenna, and Chris for writing up prospect profiles for the better part of the last two months.
I Like Draft Prospects, Who Should I Check Out to Learn More Throughout a Season?: There are plenty of resources available online to get more involved with draft prospects. These people and sites informed our prospect profiles and our own opinions about this year’s draft class. In no particular order:
- Elite Prospects
- The Draft Analyst, led by Steve Kournianos
- Scouching, led by Will Scouch. His Youtube channel is a must.
- Dobber Prospects
- Ben Kerr at Last Word on Hockey
- Smaht Scouting, led by Josh Tessler
- Brock Otten of OHL Prospects
- Future Considerations
- Devils in the Details Podcast Youtube channel - although they are ending their podcast.
- McKeen’s Hockey ($)
- The Athletic ($) featuring Corey Pronman and Scott Wheeler
- The Hockey Writers
Make Me Feel Old(er), John, Who’s Kids are in this Draft Class?: Bloodlines are always a popular narrative. Luke Hughes is Jack Hughes’ younger brother. Brandt Clarke is Graeme Clark’s younger brother. But if you want to feel really old, see if these names get picked and realize you saw their dad or uncle played. When they were young. Some examples:
- Cole Sillinger, son of Mike Sillinger, 18-season NHL veteran.
- Tyler Boucher, son of Brian Boucher, NHL goaltender.
- William Eklund, son of Christian Eklund, a 10-season veteran in the Elitserien/SHL.
- Mason McTavish, son of Dale McTavish, veteran of the Finnish and Swiss leagues.
- Oliver Kapanen, son of Kimmo Kapanen, veteran goaltender in Finland and Germany; nephew of Sami Kapanen, KalPa legend and NHL veteran; and cousin of Kasperi Kapanen, active NHL player.
- Brennan Othmann, son of Gery Othmann and nephew of Robert Othmann, both Swiss hockey veterans in lower leagues of Switzerland (and Robert is a coach there too).
- Ryan St. Louis, son of Martin St. Louis, a champion and all-star winger with Tampa Bay.
- Shane Lachance, son of Scott Lachance, 13-season NHL veteran and current scout with the Devils since 2007 (currently Head of U.S. Scouting).
- Red Savage, son of Brian Savage, 12-season NHL veteran
- James Stefan, son of 1999 first round draft pick Patrik Stefan
- Chase Stillman, son of Cory Stillman, 16-season NHL veteran
Some are long shots to be picked. Others will be first rounders. Time marches ever onward.
OK, But What About the Names? What are the Cool Names in this Draft Class?: Here’s a selection of names that just stick out purely for their names (links to their Elite Prospects profile pages unless we’ve profiled them):
- Owen Power
- Cameron Whynot
- Tristan Broz
- William von Barnekow (a.k.a. William von Barnekow-Løfberg)
- Bennet Roβmy (a.k.a. Bennet Rossmy)
- Brody Lamb
- Zachary L’Heureux
- Jack Bar
- Gleb Veremyev (fun fact: Born in Sayreville!)
- Carson Lambos
- Dru Krebs (fun fact: He’s Peyton Krebs’ brother)
- Remington Keopple
- Riley Kidney
- Jacob Goobie
- Nikita Quapp
- Marino Ramirez
- Roman Faith
- Liekit Reichle
- Matthew Argentina
- Logan Stankoven
- Conner Roulette
And my personal favorite for this year’s draft class:
- Robert Orr - Yes. Someone in Canada named their kid Robert Orr. He is not a defenseman. I would not mind him at 68th overall. If only for the jersey sales. And the memes. And the inevitable comparisons if/when he plays against Boston.
What Are This Site’s Plans for the 2021 NHL Draft?: We will try to have a post up with a poll for every pick made. If there is a significant trade, we will cover that too. We will continue our practice of having something short up and updating it later with more information. As there are multiple picks in the first round, I will have a summary for each day’s activities in the evening. Of course, there will be an open post for each draft day for you to have your say about anything and everything happening at the 2021 NHL Draft.
The draft will take place tonight to continue what has already been a very busy and active week of activity in the NHL. Please leave your thoughts, expectations, hopes, and dreams for the 2021 NHL Draft in the comments. Thank you for reading this year’s preview of the 2021 NHL Draft for the New Jersey Devils. Go Devils.