After going through a rough season last year that ended with missing the playoffs, the Devils offloaded a couple pro pieces and added some depth to a prospect list that had been lacking for a couple seasons. With any luck some of these guys will infuse some talent into the team over the next few years. Plus the team has two firsts in the upcoming draft and their own first in all following drafts as well.
Graduating from last years abbreviated top 10 list would be Bjugstad and Jenner as both played for New Jersey last season. Jenner had a solid rookie showing with 20 goals and 48 points while Bjugstad was behind some more talented players and only managed 8 goals and 35 points. Strome was ranked above both of them at #1 last year but only got into 9 games so he'll still be eligible for this list. He looks like a pretty safe player to rank already cracking 50 points in the NHL last season so he has a leg up on a lot of players in my system who are still a couple years from the NHL.
1. Ryan Strome - top line playmaker
2. Alex Tuch - 2nd line power forward
3. Kyle Connor - top six scoring winger
4. Denis Gurianov - Top six goal scoring winger
5. Brendan Perlini - 2nd line all around forward
6. Mike Reilly - 2nd pairing puck moving D
7. Jordan Schmaltz - 2nd pairing offensive defenseman
8. Nick Paul - 2nd/3rd line two way forward
9. Ian McCoshen - 2nd pairing defensive defenseman
10. Justin Bailey - top 9 big bodied winger
11. Rob O'Gara - 2nd/3rd pairing big bodied defensive defenseman
12. Nicolas Aube-Kubel - 3rd line checking forward with all around game
13. Rinat Valiev - 3rd pairing two way defenseman
14. Antoine Bibeau - could be NHL starter, still lots of risk
15. Stefan Matteau - bottom six big bodied forward with some potential for offense
16. Adam Tambellini - goal scoring C with good upside but high risk
17. Greg Chase - bottom six agitating forward
18. Tommy Vannelli - lanky offensive defenseman with PP upside
19. Ben Hutton - big all around D-man with scoring upside
20. Peter Cehlarik - has some upside offensively but needs a lot more development
HM: Dominik Masin, Ryan Fitzgerald, Mike Condon.
Big talent drop off after 6 and an even bigger one after 10 but hopefully someone from the bottom of the list will develop the way I hope they do. First pro seasons for guys like Tambellini, Vannelli Bailey should make parts of this a lot clearer after just this season. Like last year with Hishon and Donovan in the top top 10, just one year can change the outlook a player by a lot. Hopefully more guys trend up like Paul did over than last year than down like those two mentioned above or a guy like Matteau as well.
I'm really looking forward to seeing how Tuch continues to progress, as well as how Connor adapts to the college game. Gurianov is getting KHL minutes but his team right now is absolutely garbage and the whole team is struggling for goals. I still like Aube-Kubel as a sleeper to be an NHLer at some point in the future assuming he doesn't get clobbered again like he did a couple weeks ago.