Devils 2017 Draft Review
The Devils went into the 2017 draft with the 3rd overall pick, however after a draft day trade the team left the draft without a player picked in the first round. The team did still draft 4 players in the first 3 rounds who look like they have good value however after that it was a bunch of whiffs. Definitely not the best or worst draft the team has had upon immediate review, but it's a lot like 2014 which had a lot of whiffs in it as well. In that draft a lot of the 3rd round picks have not progressed as needed and a couple of the later picks went undrafted in the NHL and never proved good enough to be drafted after all. 1st round pick Alex Tuch has still not proven to be a good pick but he still has time after a somewhat solid AHL rookie season. For a big guy he doesn't play the power game enough and sometimes lacks drive and can take shifts off, and while he has a good shot and solid skater for his big size - he still needs to put it all together.
In this draft however, the Devils selected:
41. Devils, Grant Mismash(17)
53. Devils, Jack Studnicka(17)
68. Devils, Stelio Mattheos(17)
88. Devils, Clayton Phillips(17)
98. Devils, Jesse Koskenkorva(17)
128. Devils, Nate Knoepke(17)
144. Devils, Tommy Miller(17)
158. Devils, Austin Pratt(17)
188. Devils, Jacob Christiansen(17)
218. Devils, Matt Anderson(17)
Starting from the top, the Devils were happy to get Mismash at 41 even if it was a little higher than the team wanted to pick him. However with teams next pick at 53 the thought was he wouldn't be there and the team decided to go for him early. His upside doesn't seem to be very high but the team thinks he could be a safe pick to be an energy type player who plays a power game and has a great shot. The hope is his NEFHL size will be closer to 6' 205 pounds or so and if everything goes right he could be like Jenner. He'll have quite a few years in North Dakota before he ever suits up for the Devils. Other targets for this pick were Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Popugayev.
After picking up a few centers via trade during and before the draft the team decided to take another in Jack Studnicka at #53. Another guy picked a little earlier than some might have thought, as he looked more like a 3rd round type of pick - the team wanted him despite his point totals not really jumping off the page. A smaller forward despite being 6'1, he's only listed at 171 pounds so the team hopes he can get closer too 190+ by the time he's ready to facer older competition. He has a lot of similiarities to Patrice Bergeron in terms of simliar type of scouting report so that's what I'm hoping on. Obviously he won't be a 70 point selke winner but if he can be like Forsbacka-Karlsson, and take care of both ends of the ice on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th line that would be great. The idea is to get a bunch of centers like that and hope one of them blossoms and the Devils definitely think Studnicka has the possibility of doing that. Other targets at this pick were Mackenzie Entwistle and Alex Formenton, as well as Evan Barratt.
In the 3rd round the Devils ended up selecting the slightly overrated Stelio Mattheos out of Brandon in the WHL. A former 1st overall pick in the 2014 Bantam Entry draft, Mattheos hasn't quite lived up to his past potential at this point. Another center who lacks some shift to shift consistency (like Studnicka), but he has good speed and a solid shot as shown by his 61 points in 69 games in the WHL. He could be in the same boat as Tuch as he can coast in a game despite having the size and talent to play better than the stats indicate. For an early 3rd round pick the team felt like taking a chance on a guy who people saw potential in once and if he can gain some weight and become an agitator or solid forechecker on the 4th line than that is good enough as well. The team once again thought about Entwistle (and Zetterlund) here but decided Mattheos might have a little higher chance at scoring upside. 3 picks from the end of the round the team decided on Clayton Phillips who will be going to Minnesota this fall. A smaller defenseman at only 5'11 and 174 pounds the team hopes his pick earlier than projected will be rewarded down the line. He was mostly ranked in the 4th round or later but with the talent remaining on the board the team decided to pick him up. He projects as a solid puck moving defenseman despite his size and the tea wanted to pick a defenseman within the first 3 rounds of the draft. Also thought here was Fabian Zetterlund.
Unfortunately for the Devils the rest of the draft was a giant miss, besides Tyler Steenbergen who the team picked last year. He managed to gain 5th round value which is nice after a fantastic season in the WHL. The best outlook for the team is one or more of the players not selected in the NHL this year has the fate that Steenbergen (or Valiev from a couple years ago) had. Going through them a little quicker, Korsekenkorva was an off the board pick hoping for the best. Mikey Anderson was who the team really wanted and going back would have picked him at 88 instead. With him going directly in front of the 4th round pick, it sent the team scrambling a bit. In hindsight I should have went with the safer pick i originally thought of in Filip Westerlund but hopefully Koskenkorva can show something down the road. Nate Knoepke shows that you never really can even count on a safer pick actually getting picked. A big defensive d-man with a good physical game, he felt like a safe pick to be selected somewhere in the draft and instead went home without his name being called. Tommy Miller at 144 is pretty similiar to Knoepke minus the physical play. Also ranked pretty decently in some places and pretty surprising he came away without being picked at all. Austin Pratt at 158 was taking a huge winger (6'3, 220 pounds) from the WHL and hoping he develop. Is a late birthday so maybe he gets a look next year if he can improve his point totals. Size and skating won't get you too far if you can't actually help the team at all offensively. Jacob Christiansen and Matt Anderson rounded out the teams draft at 188 for Jacob and 218 for Anderson. Two more defensemen who were projected in different places at 4th-5th round picks who fell through the cracks. Jacob is also a late birth as he's 17 until 9/12/2017 so there is hope he has a big year in Everett to get selected next season.
Unfortunately for all the whiffs, what could easily happen to them is what went down for Dylan Coghlan this past draft. He was a Devils pick last year that went undrafted in the NHL as well, however despite a 53 point season in 71 games as a right shooting defenseman he still managed to slip through without being picked. He had different sites projecting him as an overage pick like Steenbergen who would go in the 5th or 6th round but not so much. The team still feels more comfortable with him than any of the players picked this past draft after the 3rd round.