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Looking Back at the 2018 New Jersey Devils Draft Class

With less than a week before the 2023 NHL Draft, let us take some time to look back at who the New Jersey Devils picked five years ago and see what happened since then. It may be a little more valuable than you may recall.

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits
Ty Smith was first for the New Jersey Devils. About that...
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

With the 2023 NHL Draft taking place later this week, now is a good time as any to look back at a past draft. Specifically, the 2018 NHL Draft. Five years is a good amount of time to look back and see how the draft class worked out for a team. A lot can happen within five years. A player that signed an entry level contract at age 18 can have it slide twice and it would be over after the fifth year. Prospects would be long done with major junior hockey and just about done with college hockey in five years. Rights to European players (save for KHL/MHL players) would expire within five years and their contracts would likely be done at some point. Most player development is done before a player turns 23. It is more of a rule of thumb and, occasionally, a prospect can bloom later in their career. But for the most part, you will know where you stand with the prospect after five years.

The New Jersey Devils selected six players in the 2018 NHL Draft. Five years later, let us see how each of them have done, what they have done for the Devils, and look back as to whether it turned out to be a good selection or not.

The Picks: The Devils selected six players with just one within the first three rounds. As per HockeyDB, they were:

  • First round, 17th overall - Ty Smith, D, Spokane (WHL)
  • Fourth round, 110th overall - Xavier Bernard, D, Drummondville (QMJHL)
  • Fifth round, 136th overall - Akira Schmid, G, Langnau-2 (Swiss Juniors)
  • Fifth round, 141st overall - Yegor Sharangovich, C, Dynamo Minsk (KHL)
  • Sixth round, 172nd overall - Mitchell Hoelscher, C, Ottawa (OHL)
  • Seventh round, 203rd overall - Eetu Päkkilä, LW, Karpat-2 (Finnish Juniors)

Out of 217 players selected, 85 have played at least one NHL game as of June 20, 2022. Three of the six picked by New Jersey have made at least one NHL appearance. You know who they are if you have been around the last few seasons.

The Initial Reactions Back in 2018: The common thread that stuck out to me with these six selections was skating. Five out of the six prospects taken were praised and noted for how well they skated. That is an important trait. It is hard to do anything in this sport if you cannot move well. It was definitely in line with the famous line of “fast, attacking, and supportive” that came from Ray Shero when John Hynes was hired. I liked what the Devils did at the draft. I was especially excited for Ty Smith as he fell to the Devils at 17th overall.

The collective you - the People Who Matter - also liked the Devils’ draft class in 2018. Most loved the Smith selection. The “I like it”s led for three other selections. People were more unsure about the selections of Akira Schmid and Eetu Päkkilä. Both a combination of not knowing who they were and whether the Devils needed to pick either.

Selection by Selection Review

Ty Smith - 17th Overall, 1st Round

Our Post About the Selection: I was very happy with the pick, especially as I did not think he would be available for the Devils at 17th overall.

Since 2018...: The Devils did not hesitate to sign Smith to an entry level contract and so Shero got it done in August 2018. Smith stayed in training camp for a while, as he was returned to Spokane before the Devils headed to Switzerland for their final preseason game. Smith returned to the WHL and proceeded to dominate. He made the First All-Star Team in the WHL’s Western Conference, led league in assists by a defenseman, represented Canada at the WJCs, and won both the Bill Hunter Trophy (top WHL defenseman) and CHL Defenseman of the Year awards. Smith was looking like a stud defenseman in development. Surely,

In 2019, Smith did participate in New Jersey’s training camp. He did not do so well. Given his birthdate of March 24, 2000, Smith would be 19 for much of the campaign. The Devils had two choices: keep him in New Jersey and hope he grows in the NHL or send him back to Spokane to dominate once more. They opted to send him back to the WHL. A good decision as the 2019-20 Devils were Not Good. Smith continued to be a machine for Spokane. He was an assistant captain on Canada’s gold-medal winning WJC team in 2020 and he won the Bill Hunter once more in a pandemic-shortened season. It was clear Smith had little else to prove at the major junior level, but it was better than subjecting him to the suffering from the 2019-20 squad.

After two seasons in the WHL (and his ELC sliding for both), Smith was in a position to go pro in the 2021 season. He did much better in training camp and made the New Jersey roster to start the 56-game season. As poor as that season became for the Devils, Smith handled himself fairly well. He averaged over 20 minutes per game and led all defensemen rookies in points with 2 goals and 21 assists in 48 games. He was not much of a shooter with just 69 shots on net, but when Smith was on the ice, the Devils went forward in 5-on-5. Far more than other defenders. Smith nearly won our Best Rookie award as he was edged out by Yegor Sharangovich. Yet, not all that glittered with Smith’s first season was gold as per CJ’s dive into his impact metrics at the time. Still, there was a lot to like about Ty Smith’s rookie season. It looked like the first round pick from 2018 would go on to bigger and better things.

Then the 2021-22 season happened. It was rough. It was tough to watch. It was bad. Ty Smith went from a developing defenseman to a slower and way more hesitant player in all three zones. He struggled in deciding when to engage, when to maintain a gap, when to make a pass, and when to keep the puck. His decision making was that poor and it led to a lot of bad games. When the mistakes did happen, he continued to flounder. He looked like a player that was not sure of anything he did and that often led to a lot of bad shifts for a terrible season. He fell off during the season. He finished the season with 66 games played, 20 points, and a drop off in 5-on-5 on-ice rates. I still do not know what fully went wrong. How can a player go from a promising All-Rookie Team caliber season to looking overwhelmed and a step-too-slow in the next? Whatever Alain Nasreddine, Lindy Ruff, and the other coaches were telling him was not working. And whatever Smith thought he was doing was not working either.

The Devils decided in July that rather than try to salvage Smith and hope his career rebounds that they would move on from him. On July 16, 2022, Smith and a third round pick was traded to Pittsburgh for defenseman John Marino. Pittsburgh’s cap problems were real and Tom Fitzgerald took full advantage of GM Ron Hextall for it. Marino immediately improved the Devils defense and was a very solid hand (a 2.35 xGA/60!!) all season long in 2022-23. Smith was sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL initially and was called up just for nine games for Pittsburgh last season. Pittsburgh’s cap issues made it difficult for Smith to get into games but it definitely does not reflect well on the player coming off his ELC. There is new management but the same coaching staff in Pittsburgh; does Smith have a job with Pittsburgh next season? Who knows, it is not the Devils concern.

The Conclusion: Well, it is a bit complicated. As a player, Smith did not turn out as well as one would have hoped. His rookie season provided a lot of reason to be excited about the player. He dominated in juniors and hit the rink skating in his first season. Whatever happened before or during 2021-22 led to such a miserable sophomore season that I have to ask whether his career could be salvaged. Keep in mind, it was just his second NHL season, but given how it went in Pittsburgh in 2022-23, I have little reason to be confident that Ty Smith will be a steady, solid two-way defender in the NHL. I cannot say the pick was a success. The expectation for a first round selection is that the prospect becomes a player for the team. A player of significance. A player that contributes. Smith played all of two seasons with the Devils and regressed so hard in the second one that the Devils traded him away.

However, that trade is why I want to say the pick was still successful. The benefit of drafting well is not just in developing players for your team’s future, but also to develop assets that could be traded help your team out as needed. Smith was not what the Devils needed going into 2022-23. But he was worth Pittsburgh’s time to take John Marino’s hefty deal off their books. The Devils’ blueline improved greatly with Marino and he looks to figure to be an important player for the defense for years to come. As disappointing that Smith would not become an important player for the Devils after that 2021-22 season, he was good enough as a prospect to get an important player. So I think the pick ultimately worked out even if it was not in how I envisioned it back in 2018.

With the Benefit of Hindsight: It also helps that the first round of 2018 is littered with prospects who have yet to do much of anything in the NHL even five years later. Only five other players from that first round ended up playing more than Smith’s 123 NHL games so far: K’Andre Miller, Isac Lundestrom, Rasmus Sandin, Joe Veleno, and Rasmus Kupari. Out of those five, I would say only Miller has truly shined as a prospect. He would have been a viable selection at 17th overall given that Miller was mocked around this range along with Sandin, Kupari, and Lundestrom. Yet, Kupari has yet to take a leap, Sandin really only had a hot run with the Caps after being traded last season, and Lundestrom is sitting at 26 goals and 58 points in 212 games on a bad Anaheim team. Miller really was the best of the rest. I would not have wanted Miller over Smith at the time, but he has been the best first rounder after Smith.

Xavier Bernard - 110th Overall, 4th Round

Our Post About the Selection: I liked the pick for what it was: a fourth-round selection.

Since 2018...: Xavier Bernard was a big defenseman out of the QMJHL with a good shot he used a bit, who apparently moved pretty well, and used his 6’3” and 203 pound frame to throw some pretty big hits. He was not flashy at all but for 110th overall, that was fine. Xavier was drafted from the Drummondville Voltigeurs and the plan was for him to go back there anyway.

Which he did and it seemed to go pretty well. Until he was dealt to Charlottetown after 16 points in 32 games. With the Islanders, he put up just 9 points in 34 season games and 1 assist in six playoff games. He was very much used in a defensive role and played quite a bit. After that 2018-19, he resumed his major junior career with Charlottetown - for 33 games. He was traded again to the Sherbrooke Phoenix during the season. There, he was more offensive with 17 points in 29 games. But he was not standing out or developing all that much. It was determined by the Devils that he would not be signed after the 2019-20 season and so his rights were freed up. No one took him on, so Bernard went back to the Q for an overage season.

The 2020-21 season was shortened but Bernard was traded once again. Sherbrooke moved him to the Val-d’Or Foreurs, who were loading up for a playoff run. One that did happen where Bernard got to play in 15 playoff games and provide 7 points. His 2020-21 season was good enough to earn a professional contract with the Belleville Senators in August. Not a NHL contract; an AHL contract. Still a pro hockey deal.

Since then, Bernard has been secure in the minors. He split his 2021-22 season between Belleville and their ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators. Bernard did well enough to get another contract with the B-Sens in 2022. Bernard split time again in 2022-23 with 17 games with Belleville and 18 with a new ECHL affiliate, the Allen Americans. He was traded to Bakersfield in March for Graham McPhee and played in 12 games for the Condors. He has not been productive in minor pro hockey but offense never really developed for him. Xavier Bernard has a pro hockey career between the AHL and ECHL and that is pretty much it.

The Conclusion: Some picks do not work out and develop and Xavier Bernard was one of them. I do not think he did anything wrong. The potential seen at the time of the draft was not realized. And it is not like he blossomed late. Good for him to keep going in pro hockey but he is where he is for a reason as a player. I see it as a win if a late pick in a draft (from the fourth round and beyond) even gets a cup of coffee in the NHL. Bernard is often what happens to later picks in drafts. It is nothing to fault for - it just is what it is.

With the Benefit of Hindsight: Only seven players from the fourth round have played in the NHL so far. Four of them were picked after Bernard: goaltender Ivan Prosvetov (13 games), center Paul Cotter (62 games, 15 goals, 20 points with Las Vegas), defenseman Mac Hollowell (6 games), and center Philipp Kurashev (191 games, 23 goals, 62 points with Chicago). Kurashev and Cotter turned out to be superior picks even if they are bottom-six forwards for their respective teams. Do I regret it? Not really. Mostly because of who the Devils took in the fifth round.

Akira Schmid - 136th Overall, 5th Round

Our Post About the Selection: Brian was underwhelmed by this selection due to a lack of mobility and most of the people were not sure by this. Especially after taking a goaltender in 2016 and 2017. I was not a fan of it, as I noted in the next selection’s post.

Since 2018...: It has been a long road for Akira Schmid. Since being drafted out of Langnau’s U-20 team in Switzerland’s Elite Junior A league, he moved right to North America for 2018-19. He was initially transferring to Lethbridge of the WHL. After one game, the Hurricanes cut him. Yes, one game. It was a bad game but still one game. He was dumped to the Corpus Christi IceRays of the NAHL in October. After two games that went well, he moved over to the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Schmid performed well with a 92.6% overall save percentage in 37 games. He did represent his country at the WJCs, which did not go so well given his 87.8% save percentage in three games. Still, he at least secured a stable spot to grow.

Except he did not. In the 2019-20 season, Schmid struggled with injuries and a 89.1% overall save percentage in six games with Omaha. He missed the 2020 WJCs on top of that. He was traded to the Sioux City Muskateers where a pandemic limited him to seven appearances and an 88.8% save percentage. It was looking bleak until the following season. Schmid was a star with Sioux City in 2020-21. 36 games played out of a possible 52; a 92.1% overall save percentage; and being named the USHL Goaltender of the Year along with First All-Star Team honors. Schmid rebounded so much that he was given an ELC by the Devils in May 2021.

Schmid joined Nico Daws as Utica’s goaltenders for the 2021-22 season. Due to injuries and poor performances, both would receive NHL stints. Schmid literally made a jump from the USHL to the NHL within a year. Those six games in the NHL, though, were harsh. He conceded 19 goals and posted a woeful 83.3% save percentage. More than anything else, it looked like Schmid would need time to get used to the pro game at the AHL level. Where he did much better with 38 appearances and a 91.1% save percentage. After the Devils acquired Vitek Vanecek in the offseason, it was a toss-up between Schmid and Daws for being the #3 goaltender behind Vanecek and MacKenzie Blackwood.

Then an opportunity arose for that #3 spot. Blackwood was hurt in Edmonton. Schmid got the first call-up. He backed up Vanecek and he was called into action on November 10 to replace a seemingly injured Vitek Vanecek. He held it down in the victory. He received a start against Arizona. Two goals allowed on 18 shots for the win. Then in Ottawa on November 19, Schmid established that he could do quite well with a one-goal allowed performance for another win. Schmid would get spot duties in place of an injured goaltender from here on out. Before one knew it, he had 18 appearances, 14 starts, and an excellent 92.2% overall save percentage. He was so good that the dressed goaltenders for the playoffs were Vanecek and Schmid. Blackwood was healthy but did not show he could out-perform the young Swiss goalie.

Schmid proceeded to become a legend in April 2023 as you know. Vanecek was shelled as the Devils were rocked by Our Hated Rivals as New Jersey played against their type. Schmid got the start in a crucial Game 3 at the World’s Most Overrated Arena. Who would have guessed that the mighty offense of Our Hated Rivals would struggle to beat Akira Schmid? Against 36 shots, he conceded one goal and held it down all the way to overtime. In Game 4, he once again held Our Hated Rivals to one goal in a 2-1 win. Game 5 and 7, both at the Rock saw Schmid stopping everything for shutout wins to knock out Our Hated Rivals. The Game 7 one being especially impressive because A) it was a Game 7 and B) it was after Schmid was torched for five goals in Game 6. Schmid’s calm demeanor and large frame got the job done. His mobility was quite good. While Carolina proceeded to son the Devils in their series, Schmid provided to be a better option than Vanecek.

Schmid went from a random chance taken from a Swiss junior league to bouncing around junior hockey to being thrown into the NHL to becoming a key part of the Devils’ first playoff series win since 2012 and in the face of Our Hated Rivals. The 2023-24 goaltending tandem will likely be Vanecek and Schmid. For all we know, Schmid may overtake Vanecek. Anything is seemingly possible with the Torpedo. (Aside: Sending him to Utica would be a stupid decision after what he just did.)

The Conclusion: Any pick this late in a draft even seeing the NHL briefly is a win as most do not even come close. For what Schmid has done already, it is a super mega hyper critical victory. In a less cringe way, this pick was a massive success.

With the Benefit of Hindsight: The Devils clearly hit big on Schmid. The only other fifth rounders that may become anyone is goaltender Sam Ersson, who was breaking through for a little bit with Philadlephia, and the other fifth round pick the Devils made in 2018. If I wrote this up last year, then he would be undeniably the better of the two first round selections.

Yegor Sharangovich - 141st Overall, 5th Round

Our Post About the Selection: The first thing I wrote about him was that he was a double-overage selection. I liked the pick because A) he was not a goalie, B) taking a chance on a “lesser known” prospect is a good bet as any late, C) he could come over real soon since he was 20 and out of contract.

Since 2018...: I wrote up Yegor Sharangovich’s path since 2018 in his RFA profile earlier this month. It is a good overall view (if I do say so myself) of what the player has done. The super-short version: He went right to the AHL, played OK in a depth role, went to Dynamo Minsk of the KHL during the pandemic, glowed up big time in the KHL, earned a spot in the Devils’ training camp in 2021 after said time with Minsk, scored quite a bit next to Jack Hughes with his strong shot, and lost his place in the lineup over the last two seasons such that I do not know where the Devils see him in their long term plans anymore. I felt that the Devils may be best suited in trading Sharangovich. It turns out that Sharangovich is indeed drawing interest from other teams per Elliotte Friedman via James Nichols at New Jersey Hockey Now.

It is a bit disappointing that the end of the Sharangovich story in New Jersey could be real soon. Again, his usage outside of a penalty kill was all over the place and his own performances were not helped out by it at all. I think he struggled to keep up with the pace of play that the team wanted to go, and even though he still put up 13 goals, others were more than able to provide what he used to in prior seasons. With Alexander Holtz and Nolan Foote in the wings as well as a free agency market with wingers being available, I think the Devils think Sharangovich is not so needed. So it goes.

The Conclusion: Still, like Schmid, this pick was a massive success. Again, fifth round picks often do not make the NHL at all. Even with his disappointing 2022-23 campaign, Sharangovich is eighth in the entire 2018 NHL Draft class in scoring with 106 points in 205 games. Ninth place is defenseman Evan Bouchard who is at 89 points. The closest non-first round pick in points is defenseman Sean Durzi, who has 65 points in 136 games. In terms of goals only, only three 2018 draftees have more than Sharangovich’s 53 goals: Brady Tkachuk (125), Andrei Svechnikov (112), and Joel Farabee (60). He edged out Jesperi Kotkaniemi (52). The point is that Sharangovich has been legitimately one of the best forwards out of all of the 2018 draftees when it comes to production. It may soon be over in New Jersey but I cannot regret how it went for Sharangovich.

With the Benefit of Hindsight: No, the Devils could not have made a better fifth round pick based on the players selected after Sharangovich. You may feel Schmid may usurp him soon but he was picked before Sharangovich anyway.

Mitchell Hoelscher - 172nd Overall, 6th Round

Our Post About the Selection: Brian was happy with the pick as Hoelscher was seen as an energy, all three zones player for Ottawa as a rookie. A good prospect as any to take a chance on.

Since 2018...: Mitchell Hoelscher followed up his 10-goal, 28-point rookie campaign that saw him drafted with a 10-goal, 40-point campaign in 2018-19. Not exactly a big improvement, but his role on the team grew. Plus, he helped out quite a bit in a playoff run for 67’s with six goals and 13 points in 18 playoff games. Either way, that team was still driven by the likes of Sasha Chmelevski, Austen Keating, trade-aquired, Lucas Chiodo, Tye Felhaber, and then-rookie Marco Rossi. Hoelscher was a useful player but not a featured one in his post-draft season.

He would provide more offense in his 20-year old season in 2019-20. He put up 34 goals to finish behind Jack Quinn, Rossi, and Joseph Garreffa on the team. He put up 76 points to finish sixth on the team in scoring. Alas, his performances were not seen as a great improvement. The Devils did not sign him to an ELC after the 2019-20 season.

With the pandemic cutting off the 2020-21 season, Hoelscher was idle hockey-wise until March 2021. He then signed an ATO with Belleville. He played in five games for them as he missed a lot of time with a knee injury. Hoelscher ended up playing much more for their ECHL affiliate, Atlanta. There, he put up seven goals and 30 points in 25 games and contributed a bit to their short playoff run. After that season, he joined the Springfield Thunderbirds in October. He did see some ECHL time with the Indy Fuel, but just six games. He stuck with the T-Birds for 57 games for nine goals and 16 points and two playoff games. As far as I can tell, he is a forward that provides help at both ends and is still very much figuring out offense at the AHL level. At least he has established himself more at the ‘A’ than in the lower league ECHL.

The Conclusion: Just like Xavier Bernard, this was a player that did not fully realize his potential. The difference was that Hoelscher remained on one team the whole time. While he clearly improved his value within the 67’s year-after-year, it was not enough to demonstrate a real future in the pro game. I am glad to see that, like Bernard, Hoelscher is still playing pro hockey and he may establish himself at least as an AHL player. For a sixth round pick, it is not much benefit to the Devils - who never signed him - but it is what it is for late selection.

With the Benefit of Hindsight: It seems a bit weird to point to other sixth round picks and say, “Why not him?” So I do not think the Devils have anything to regret. After 172nd overall, only fourplayers have even seen the NHL so far. One game for goaltender Veini Vehvilainen, two games for defenseman Hunter Drew, 17 games for winger Cole Koepke, and the most prolific sixth rounder in this draft, Westwood, New Jersey’s own winger John Leonard with 64 games played and 16 points. Pontus Holmberg (156th overall) may pass him shortly.

Eetu Päkkilä - 203rd Overall, 7th Round

Our Post About the Selection: I was OK with it given that the only information I had on Eetu Päkkilä at the time was that he would not become a star but a pretty good player. It is a seventh round pick so my expectations were low to begin with.

Since 2018...: I did also note in 2018 that he was on a junior contract with Kärpät. Would he come over soon? No. He remained with Kärpät’s U-20 team in 2018-19. He was a scoring machine with 38 goals and 60 points. They won the U-20 SM-Liiga championship, he led that league in goals, and he was named to the First All-Star Team. Say what you want about Finnish juniors, but Päkkilä at least crushed it.

In May 2019, Kärpät decided to transfer him to Ilves. There, he would get a chance to play in the Liiga, Finland’s top team for the 2019-20 season. He played in 39 games and put up six goals and 11 points. He did get a loan to KOOVEE of Mestis - Finland’s second league - and was more productive with five goals and 14 points. The Ilves management was pleased with Päkkilä’s development. So much so that they gave him a four-season contract extension that will end in 2023-24.

That is where Päkkilä has been all this time. He has been a steady depth scorer for the squad in the last three seasons. That team did finish third in the postseason in 2022, which is a little bit of honors. But he has yet to score double-digits in goals or break twenty points in Liiga. Maybe he will in this upcoming season; the final season of his contract. The Devils lost his rights earlier, so when that contract ends, he is a free agent for anyone. I suspect he will remain in Liiga, whether it is with Ilves or another team.

The Conclusion: The Devils took a chance on a Finnish junior prospect and he developed into a regular in Finnish pro hockey. Again, the Devils lost their rights to the player. I do not think they are missing much since he has not been a scoring machine or a big minutes player for Ilves in any of the last three seasons. The Devils took a chance and it did not work out. Still, good to see him having a career in pro hockey.

With the Benefit of Hindsight: As much as I would have wanted Harvard pest Austin Wong, the only player to have “made it” after Päkkilä’s selection was the next player picked: winger Trey Fix-Wolansky. Even then, that “making it” is just 15 games, two goals, and three points so far. It was the middle of the seventh round. It is whatever.

Five Years Later, Final Thoughts

I am oddly fine with how the 2018 NHL Draft worked out for the Devils. Odd in that only three out of six picks actually made it to the NHL and soon it could be that only one of those three picks is still with the Devils. Yet, the Devils did hit big on two fifth round picks that normally do not become anything of note. Yegor Sharangovich is one of the top scorers in the entire draft class. Akira Schmid has just achieved legitimate playoff heroics and a NHL job based on his awesome stints in 2022-23. Both are massive successes as picks. As disappointing as Smith was after his good rookie season, he did get John Marino to New Jersey. That kind of value is positive no matter how bad that second season was or his one season so far in the Penguins organization.

It must be pointed out that the Devils only had six picks and they were all in the middle of the rounds they had. They were not going to get the cream of the crop. The hope was that they would unearth some diamonds in the rough. Some turned out to be rough like Bernard, Hoelscher, and Päkkilä. The Devils understandably did not sign them. Sharangovich and Schmid absolutely were diamonds and the Devils did the best they could with Smith. I’ll take those success even if Sharangovich is on another team sooner rather than later.

Lastly, the 2018 NHL Draft class has been pretty “meh” after five years. Sure, some players are still establishing themselves to a point in the NHL. Sure, some of the top ten selections have been wild successes such as first overall Rasmus Dahlin, second overall Andrei Svechnikov, fourth overall Brady Tkachuk, and seventh overall Quinn Hughes. Jesperi Kotkaniemi has found his groove in Carolina; Noah Dobson, Adam Boqvist, Evan Bouchard, and K’Andre Miller have been solid hands on their current teams; and Joel Farabee has been a good find for Philly so far. Yet, even the 2018 first round has a heap of misses and players struggling to reach their potential. Filip Zadina is not filling nets. Barrett Hayton is mired in Arizona. Oliver Wahlstrom has not been a major threat. Vitali Kravstov, Ty Dellandrea, and Hayton were all taken way earlier than expected and all three have not justified those picks. Isac Lundestrom has played a lot and he’s averaging 0.27 points per game. Outside of those big names within the first seven picks, Sharangovich, Smith, and eventually Schmid will look like one of the better classes taken by a team in that year. I do not think the Devils could have done much better given who was picked after each player. As a result, I’m more keen on this group of prospects even if things did not turn out as I expected at the time.

Spoiler: I may end up liking this class a lot more than 2019’s but there is a 2023-24 season that I hope proves me wrong for a few players.

Your Take

Now that you read through my look back at the Devils’ 2018 draft class, I want to know your take. How do you feel about how the Devils did in the 2018 NHL Draft? How have your thoughts changed about them compared to what they were five years ago? Are you pleased with what the Devils did with their six picks? Do you agree that Smith being traded with a pick for Marino salvages that selection at 17th overall? What do you hope for this look back for the 2019 class next year? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Devils’ draft five years ago. Thank you for reading.