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General Devils Draft Thoughts: 2012 Edition

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There's threads on each player and on the entire draft, but I figured there should be a thread to talk about the Devils draft.

In general, I'm a fan, although there are some really weird things in this draft.

I'm a fan of the Devils taking 6 forwards, 1 D, and 0 goalies. The Devils organization is loaded on defense. They're going to be passing on signing guys they drafted that they would've been semi-desperate to sign 3 years ago. I'm even a fan of taking as many 'character' type forwards as they did. Only the Red Wings get to hit home runs every time. But there are some criticisms as well.

A: The Devils' drafting so many junior players. The Devils have never been a huge fan of junior hockey and I'm right there with them. The OHL and WHL (to a lesser extent, the QMJHL) are the most scouted feeder leagues in the hockey world. It's tough to find a hidden gem there. The Devils drafted 5 out of 7 guys from junior hockey - it's unusual.

B: The amount of overage players taken. I believe someone noted that from the 2nd round on, over 40% of the players were eligible for previous drafts. That's crazy. The Devils, in particular, drafted two players who were eligible last year - Ben Thomson and Graham Clark. Now neither of these guys would've been taken last year, but still, it's unusual.

C: Why no Russians? I know Guvras is Belarussian, but he came over to play junior hockey, he clearly wants a shot at pro hockey in North America. Regardless, there are intriguing guys from the KHL that got passed over. I get that some of those players will never come over, and for good reason - they get paid better in the KHL and they get to live in their home country. It's a rotten deal for a Russian player to come to a new country, get told he plays the game all wrong, and to do so for less money and job security than he has in Russia. Still, the Devils have Kovalchuk for another 13 years and Volchenkov for 4 more - it's time to use that as an advantage. It's not certain to lure a Russian guy over here, not at all, but it beats having none of them around.

Anyway, really curious about what Jason and fiesty and people who really follow this stuff think.

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I'm satisfied with their selections. Matteau is a solid pick and addresses an organizational weakness at the same time. I know people aren't a fan of his because of his name and his limited offensive upside, but there are a lot of things to like about his game (defense, work ethic, physicality). You talk about it in the other thread but he could end up being another Zubrus type player and that's valuable to any contender.

I like that they addressed the forward depth weakness, but the lone defensemen they selected, Damon Severson, is a solid prospect. Decent size, right handed, skates well, likes to handle the puck, has a solid offensive game. His defensive game needs work but there is plenty of time to work on that.

I haven't looked at the numbers to see how many overagers were selected but with this being considered a weak class (1994 DOB), I can see why teams like the Devils tried to take chances with older playesr.

I was surprised no team even took a late shot at Anton Slepyshev. 10th ranked European Skater from CSS, high end offensive skills but real holes in every other part of his game, plus the KHL distraction. Hockey Prospect had him ranked 78th overall and Future Considerations had him 48th.

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I think the devils did a pretty decent job attempting to reach their specific goals for this draft. As an interview with Conte shows, it wasn't their goal on the second day to always go after BPA. He said they identified more specific things that they wanted, and generated multiple lists based on those things. I have a feeling that's how a player like Thomson is picked where he was. Devils wanted more size and toughness, and clearly he was high on their list of big tough guys. It feels like we ended up with two guys in the vein of big and tough, Matteau and Thomson. They are both sort of a poor mans Tom Wilson, who was drafted much earlier than we picked. Clearly this is something the scouting staff wanted to address.

Matteau I think has other abilities that Wilson doesnt though, allowing him to become a useful player even if he doesnt reach his max potential (which I am guessing is probably something like a David Clarkson from this season). Wilson is more boom or goon, where I think Matteau is boom or bottom six utility player.

I like the selection of Severson, even though there were plenty of attractive options still available, I think at this point in the second round with the way things fell, they stuck with a BPA mentality based on our scouts list. Certainly Shore or Zharkov, or one of many other players would have also made sense here, but we've got to trust the scouting staff, and from 24hrs of perspective, it looks like they got someone different from other dmen in our system.

I am interested to see what happens with some of the remaining picks. If one of Johnson, Black, Kerfoot, or Gavrus pans out, I'll be happy. Typically we grab clear bottom six limited potential players during these rounds. While some of these guys may develop into NHL bottom six guys eventually (which is fine), I think they all could have untapped offensive potential, which isn't always the case with 3rd round picks and later.

Johnson - probably most potential from this group of four to continue developing. He will most likely get a bigger role in Windsor next year, which should help immensely.

Gavrus - could be a steal if he stays healthy. Not really his fault he was cheap shotted twice last year.

Black - A late bloomer who has potential to surprise some people and climb our depth charts, or fade away without anyone noticing.

Kerfoot - I'm hoping he'll head to college. This seems like a smart kid with some playmaking potential. Would like to see what he can do in NCAA, and give him more time to develop.

More thoughts about the other picks:

Matteau - I am not down on this pick, though it was sort of a shock that we actually picked him (even though we knew where he was ranked). I think this kid has tools in his toolbox to adapt his game depending on how his development goes. I don't think he is strictly boom or bust. I see his potential outcome fitting into buckets best to worst: 2nd line power forward -> bottom six utility/heady player -> 4th line Steve bernier role -> total goon/bust

I think realistically we're looking at the second bucket, but if his offense takes off, or his ability to make space for linemates translates to pro level, he could slot into the top 6.

Severson - all round d with a focus on offense and puck-moving sounds good to me. Off the jump it sounds like Burlon, or a player on the devils might be Andy Greene. It seems like Severson will have more size than either of those players, and if his goal is to become the next Shea Weber, I don't have a problem with him striving towards that goal.

Thomson - to me this is closest thing we have to a total boom or bust pick. he shows he has some offensive tools, and like black, just might be a late bloomer. I will be watching his progress in Kitchener to see how he develops. Maybe being drafted will be a kick in the rear that this once passed over player needs to spur his drive to continue to improve.

Edited by elias2600

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Still, the Devils have Kovalchuk for another 13 years and Volchenkov for 4 more - it's time to use that as an advantage. It's not certain to lure a Russian guy over here, not at all, but it beats having none of them around.

it would be kovy doing the recruiting. he and ovechkin are the ones the russian youngsters look up to the most - even more than malkin or datsyuk. i know that when ponikarovsky was traded here, kovy and anton were sure to spend as much time with him as possible.

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it would be kovy doing the recruiting. he and ovechkin are the ones the russian youngsters look up to the most - even more than malkin or datsyuk. i know that when ponikarovsky was traded here, kovy and anton were sure to spend as much time with him as possible.

Ponikorovsky is Ukranian.

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Ponikorovsky is Ukranian.

i am quite aware - my point was eastern european. in the end, they're all russian. even zubrus - although kovy says they "just like to pretend their russian".

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Hockey Prospectus Atlantic Division Draft Wrap-Up

New Jersey Devils

Player Position Selected (HP Rank)

Stefan Matteau Left Wing 29th (41st)

Damon Severson Defense 60th (38th)

Ben Johnson Center 90th (94th)

Ben Thompson Left Wing 96th

Graham Black Center 135th

Alex Kerfoot Right Wing 150th

Arturs Gavrus Left Wing 180th (44th)

Day 1: Stefan Matteau is a mean power forward type who skates well and has good puck skills although I only see fringe scoring line upside. Some will point to several incidents this year where it's been written he has some emotional issue. I see those incidents as isolated situations and not a real problem though.

Day 2: I was underwhelmed with Severson at the Under-18's, but for most of the year I've heard and seen generally positive things from him in terms of being a smart, calm puck-mover who is somewhat well-rounded. Johnson was a raw prospect coming from high school to the OHL this season, but steadily improved and flashes some intriguing tools, especially his plus skating ability. How much more of his game will progress and show pro-level ability is the question, but the mid-rounds are where I'd gamble on a project like him. Black is a good skater with an okay enough skill level. He's a second-time draft eligible who I wouldn't say ever looked thoroughly impressive, but just a solid prospect who you hope can be a bottom-six player. I'm a Gavrus fan, and although he's a small player, his plus skating ability and good puck skills are indicators to me of the notable potential he has if he develops well.

Summary: I don't think the Devils got a significantly level of talent and I preferably would have gone for a little more skill at 29, but there are a few guys who have potential to outperform their draft slots. They walked away with several quality pro prospects on draft weekend, so this draft could help stabilize their prospect system depth.

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Cs that shoot righty can all be future wingers.

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Cs that shoot righty can all be future wingers.

None of these guys shoot right handed, unfortunately. In fact, none of their forward prospects do.

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