Devils731 Posted June 4, 2007 Share Posted June 4, 2007 http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&a...rticleid=315627 For two-straight seasons, the New Jersey Devils found pieces of their future in North Dakota, where they plucked first-round draft picks Zach Parise and Travis Zajac and turned them into budding stars. Parise, taken 17th overall in 2003, proved his strong rookie season was no fluke by netting a team-high 31 goals in 82 games this season. Zajac, the 20th player taken in 2004, proved to be a solid two-way center for the Devils this season with 17 goals and 25 assists in 80 games. The Devils are hoping their string of consistency with first-round picks extends to Swedish-born right wing Nicklas Bergfors, who was taken 23rd overall in 2005. In his first two AHL seasons with the Albany River Rats and Lowell Devils, Bergfors' play has been uneven, at least for a first-round selection. The Devils drafted Bergfors because of his offensive tools, but the fleet-footed winger managed just 13 goals in Lowell this season after netting 17 in his first pro season with Albany. Like many high draft picks, many believe Bergfors' skill level is best suited for the NHL and not the AHL. But if Bergfors does not prove in the exhibition season that he can put up points alongside NHL talent, the Devils' retooling efforts by be taxed next season unless they take a dip in the free-agent pool. Here's a look at the Devils' top prospects. Andy Greene, defense -- When the Devils decided to trade David Hale to Calgary, they did so with Greene in mind. After playing mistake-free hockey for Lowell, Greene was recalled by the Devils and showed he was just as capable at the NHL level. In 23 games with the big club Greene averaged more than 14 minutes a game and ended the season with one goal, five assists and a respectable minus-1. Greene also made sound decisions on the Devils' second power play unit and played well enough to get a full season in Newark next season, where he could be paired with another sophomore defenseman, Johnny Oduya as the Devils' third pair. Oduya was impressive in his rookie season this year with two goals and nine assists in 76 games for the Devils. Matthew Corrente, defense -- The Devils thought enough of Corrente to make him the final player taken in the first round last year (30th overall), but it's clear the 19-year-old blue liner needs some more seasoning in the OHL. Corrente struggled early in the season and was involved in an off-ice incident that led to him being traded from Saginaw to Mississauga of the OHL. Once he got back on track, Corrente showed the speed and aggressiveness that enamored the Devils, finishing the year with three goals and 26 assists while recording a plus-13 in 43 games. Corrente has a mean streak he'll need to keep in check next season when the Devils hope a full year of logging heavy minutes will result in a defenseman they can someday mold into a No. 1 or No. 2 blue liner. Sean Zimmerman, defense -- A late-round pick of the Devils in 2005 (sixth round, 170th overall), Zimmerman could find himself in a similar role Greene found himself in this season. At 20-years-old, Zimmerman is likely to make his pro debut for Lowell next season where he will be expected to improve his overall game. Zimmerman won't impress the Devils with his offensive ability, but he is positionally sound and played well enough last season to land a spot on Team USA for the World Junior Championships, where he earned a bronze medal. Kirill Tulupov, defense -- At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Tulupov looks like he's ready to step into the pro game, but he's also just 19-years-old and the Devils likely will give him another season in the Quebec League. Tulupov might be the most physically gifted two-way defenseman in the Devils system. He had eight goals and 20 assists in 54 games with Chicoutimi this season and likely will return there for another year of seasoning. Taken in the third round (67th overall) in last year's draft Tulupov can use his big frame to punish forwards in front of the net and along the boards and has a big shot from the blue line. With another year of progress, Tulupov could see be patrolling the Devils blue line as early as 2008-09. Kyle Henegan, left wing -- The last player taken by the Devils in the 2006 draft (208th overall) Henegan is a fearless defenseman-turned-winger whom the Devils foresee as their next fourth-line role player. Henegan is not going to impress anyone with his offense (five goals, 13 assists for Victoriaville in the Quebec League) but he is a hard-hitting forward who proved he can play with his head as well as his heart, finishing the season with 136 penalty minutes, 64 fewer than last season. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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