With Zach Parise's unceremoniously departure now behind us, I thought I'd take a look back at how exactly the Devils even ended up with him...with the help from current and former NJDevs members. As always with me, could be a running series but just as easily a one off.
The NHL mandates that whoever wins the cup gets the last pick of every round of the draft, and with 30 teams in the league, whoever wins the cup can generally look forward to picking up a player like Chris O'Sullivan Deron Quint, Mike McBain, Josh Green, Jean-Marc Pelletier, Artem Chubarov, Luke Sellars, Jeff Taffe, Dave Steckel, Jim Slater (The #30 picks for the last 10 years) in the first round.
As I'm sure most you remember, we won the Stanley Cup on June 9, but we didn't end up with any Mike McBain or Deron Quint; no, we got one of the best NCAA forwards out there - a freshman Hobey Baker finalist, a guy whose only knock is his size (but if you look at his size - 5'11, you're left scratching your head) here's what was being said before the draft:
9. Zach Parise --C--North Dakota
All he seems to lack is size, but with his heart, it might not matter. Extremely gifted offensive player who can create and finish. Thrives in the open ice but will also get involved along the boards. Very strong on special teams and has very good hockey sense. - Prospect Advisor
Parise was ranked 9th because this is an unusally deep draft year, if he had been a year older, he likely would have been the 4th best prospect, behind only Rick Nash, Jay Bouwmeester, and Kari Lehtonnen. Make no mistake, Parise is a "can't miss" prospect, of course, can't miss prospects miss all the time, Alexandre Daigle for example, but Parise is in the class of prospects that's about as sure a thing as you can get. So how did the Devils get him?
1. We had the right to switch picks with The Saint Louis Blues because of the Scott Stevens tampering case, So instead of having the #30 pick, we actually switched and got the #22 pick. Still, that was not even close to Parise. Lou and Conte went to the draft with their eyes on guys like Anthony Stewart, in fact he didn't even have a tag for Parise.
2. This draft, as I already mentioned was deep, but it was weighted in forwards. If you wanted a quality defenseman, you had to get him early. That led to several defensemen getting picked earlier than they should have, and bumped the quality forwards down. (Also, Marc Andre Fleury was the only star quality goalie in the draft, so he went rigtht away too
3. In a draft class with so many forwards, there are lots of big forwards with skill available. The only forward under 6'2 drafted in the top 9 was explosive forward Nikolai Zherdev.
In a draft class with a lot of big forwards, Zach Parise fell way too far. Remember, he's 5'11, not exactly Brian Gionta here. And he's still growing.
4. There were 4 big name forwards that fell: Steve Bernier, Zach Parise, Danny Fritsche, and Patrik O'Sullivan. San Jose struck first, trading 3 of their picks (#25, a 2nd rounder, and a 4th rounder) to move up 9 slots to #16 and nab Steve Bernier, a forward with excellent size and potential who like Parise, should've been taken much earlier. The jig was up, and Lou moved decisively. Since he only had to move up 5 slots as opposed to 9, Edmunton stood a good chance of getting the player that they wanted anyway, so the move only cost Lou the 68th pick in the draft.
The mind boggling conspiricy of events was complete, and New Jersey had one its most signifigant 1st round draft picks since Petr Sykora fell to #18 was picked up way back in 1995; another highly skilled forward picked up after winning the Stanley Cup.
The Devils had the right to swap picks with the Blues once in a 5-year period. This would be the last year, and with the Devils winning the Cup, and it being such a deep draft, it couldn't have worked out better, especially when it looked at first like the Devils would never even take advantage of this ruling. The Blues won the Presidents' trophy that year with 114 points, 11 more than New Jersey, but were upset in the first round by the Sharks. That coupled with the Devils Stanley Cup win allowed them to move up 8 spots. Also, not bad when you look at where the mock drafts had Zach Parise going -- and who the Devils taking.
7. Nashville Predators: Zach Parise, C, U. of North Dakota (WCHA)
Preds GM David Poile is notorious for drafting CHL talent in Round 1. That will change this year, as he attempts to add more skill to the organization. Parise would immediately become the franchise's second-best center in terms of skill level (behind No. 1 pivot David Legwand).
10 C Zach Parise North Dakota (WCHA) 5'11" 186 7/28/84
Though Vanek stole the headlines with his impressive run at the end of the year, Parise was the best freshman for the first half of the season. The son of 14-year NHLer J.P. Parise has incredible hockey sense and great skills with the puck. He has answered questions about his size and looks to be a top-notch scoring prospect with first-line potential.
22. New Jersey Devils: Jeff Tambellini, LW, U. of Michigan (CCHA)
The Devils do a great job of scouting the NCAA ranks, so Tambellini fits into their drafting profile to the letter. He's definitely a long-range pick, since very few Devils ever bypass the AHL and graduate straight to the big league. Tambellini will play at least two more years at Michigan.
22 D Brent Seabrook Lethbridge (WHL) 6'2 1/2" 220 4/20/85
The Devils never have lacked physical blueliners, and Seabrook could be an impressive two-way player with another year or two of seasoning. Much like Barret Jackman emerged while playing with Al MacInnis this season, Seabrook would benefit greatly from playing alongside Scott Stevens before the end of his great career.
The excitement was obvious from everyone here, as they knew the Devils had lucked themselves into a gem with the help of David Conte urging Lou Lamoriello to pull the trigger after seeing a great opportunity to grab a player they had no business getting. They could thank the Edmonton Oilers too, who had their eyes set on Marc-Antoine Pouliot, who they believed they could get at 22 (and they were right). Pouliot has bounced around from the minors to the NHL and from team-to-team his entire career. He currently has 57 points in 192 games.
It was so funny; I was watching the draft on tape. I had intended to go here and get a thumbnail on everything but I couldn't get on the computer so I went and watched the tape and poor Pierre McGuire was beside himself that nobody picked this kid Parise. Then my jaw drops when Lou trades up. First cause I didn't expect it. Second cause I thought they might be picking this kid. And boy was I laughing my a$$ off when they did and McGuire was all happy, saying over and over again about how this is why the Devils win year after year Lou was all happy too; I loved where he said we didn't even have a nametag for the kid cause we didn't figure he'd fall to us Sounds like a helluva pick too; any player with the NHL bloodlines already has a plus to start with. And 5'11 is NOT short by any stretch. We're not talking Brian Gionta short for crying out loud
Oh and one very underrated part of the trade: Lou didn't give up the farm to move up as so many other teams did. Florida gave up three picks including two second rounders to move up. The Sharks gave up three picks (including two high) to move up. The Devils only gave up one (other) pick to move up, a late second rounder. The Devs not only got great value for their pick but they got great value in the trade as well.
Did you see the sh!t-eating grin on Lou's face? He couldn't believe they got him! Sounds like they found a real winner!!
Another College player for Lou, he WAS the best Freshman in the NCAA this year hands down. Hes got it all, fearless, great offensive insticts. Good pick.
Said one college scout: "He is a star. He can do it all. He can skate. He is strong, and I do not know what his knock is. He can do just about anything. He is a fantastic player. To me, he is magical. I think he is one of the best college players to come down the pipeline in years."
The knock is his size. Parise does not have a thick body yet, and time will tell whether he gets bigger and faster.
"I don't see size as an issue," said a scout. "His dad wasn't big. Zach's a competitor like his dad."
sounds good to me!
Bob McKenzie is very astonished he went so low.
But the Devils are soooooo smart. There are other diamonds in the rough the org. has its eye on.
This was the right pick and not a tough way to get it.
Happy Lou is so cool.
A year later it was becoming more obvious what a special pick this would be.
Zach Parise - May have been the best pick of the 1st round even a year after the draft. His MVP performence at the WJC and being the Hobey Baker finalist clearly places him as the future of US hockey and of the New Jersey Devils system. Next year he should be a lock for the Devils roster.
In case you were wondering, the St Louis Blues ended up with Shawn Belle, the 2nd worst player taken in the first round (2nd to the Rangers drafting Hugh Jessiman of course) with the Devils original 30th pick. Belle played just 20 games in the NHL.
Edited by devilsrule33, 17 July 2012 - 10:30 AM.