The New Jersey Devils’ 2020 NHL Entry Draft will bode well for the team’s future success due to a pair of significant factors.
No, the New Jersey Devils‘ 2019-20 regular season isn’t over yet. It’s still fair for hockey fans of all levels to eye down the 2020 NHL Entry Draft though.
New Jersey has earned some luck in the draft over the past five years, and it seems that the Devils will possess another prime opportunity to load up on prospects this summer.
All in all, The Devils’ intriguing 2020 draft picture is because of two factors. The first has to do with the concept of quantity while the latter is more of a quality-based approach.
1. The abundance of selections
The first factor not only boils down to how many selections the Devils own this year at the draft but rather the number of first-round picks the team can possess.
Whether its interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald or not, New Jersey’s front office currently owns eight selections in 2020’s draft. Keep in mind that there are seven rounds.
It gets better.
New Jersey can potentially own up to three selections in the first round this summer. Yes, you read that correctly.
The three-time Stanley Cup champions have never owned that many first-round picks in a single draft. The Devils have entailed two first-round picks in a draft on four occasions. The most recent occurrence was back in 1998 when the team selected Mike Van Ryn and Scott Gomez with the 26th and 27th picks, respectively.
Other drafts that witnessed the Devils possess multiple first-round picks included the selections of Ken Daneyko (1982), Bill Guerin (1989), Scott Niedermayer (1991), Brian Rolston (1991).
Think about those aforementioned names. Gomez, Niedermayer, Daneyko, Rolston, and Guerin all won at least one Stanley Cup with New Jersey. It’s safe to say the Devils owning multiple first-round picks in a draft bodes well for the organization.
Now, how can New Jersey receive that additional first-round pick aside from the two that are borderline guaranteed?
The transaction that saw Taylor Hall traded to Arizona entailed a first-round pick. If the Coyotes land a top-three draft pick (not happening), the first-round selection the Devils received would then transfer over to 2021.
In the recent Blake Coleman trade, New Jersey acquired a conditional first-round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning which is owned by Vancouver. If the Canucks fail to clinch a berth in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, that first-round pick becomes a 2021 first-rounder for the Devils.
At the time of writing, the Canucks are in a playoff position for the Western Conference. They’ve also been arguably the biggest surprise in the NHL this season. New Jersey fans are without a doubt rooting for Vancouver for the remainder of the year. They might even consider buying Cancucks sweaters.
Another example of teams having success with multiple first-round picks would ironically be Vancouver when it selected Henrik and Daniel Sedin in 1999. The Anaheim Ducks in 2003 are also an example. That’s the year they drafted Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
2. The high expectations for the upcoming class
The second major factor is that the 2020 NHL Draft class entails high expectations. It’s believed that the upcoming class is one of the strongest groups in recent memory.
Forward Alexis Lafrenière headlines the draft. The youngster didn’t disappoint after helping Team Canada earn a Gold Medal in the 2020 World Junior Championship. Lafrenière would enhance the Devils to an All-World level.
NHL.com’s Mike Morreale believes that a defenseman like Jamie Drysdale should fall into the top ten for the draft. This is another viable option for New Jersey if it doesn’t land a top-three pick. Drafting another top-tier defenseman that’s similar to 2018 selection Ty Smith wouldn’t be the worst idea, as it would complement the Devils down the middle ice for the near future.
Given the combination of draft picks the Devils are likely to own this year, combined with the quality talent level, this 2020 draft should be both exciting and memorable.
Devils fans will likely be draft experts by the time they win their next Stanley Cup. The team has had countless draft picks since 2011 and they’re bottom-dwelling nature has left them knowing more about scouting than winning.
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