There are still four months left in the 2010-11 season and we are still just under six months away from the NHL Entry Draft, but with the type of season the Devils are having, it’s not too early to look at the upcoming draft.
First, to avoid confusion over the Devils’ draft picks, they will have a first round pick this year unless they choose to give it up as part of the Kovalchuk contract penalty. The Devils have to give up a first rounder, but they get to choose which of the next four year’s picks they give up. Given the likelihood that they will have a top five pick (and probably one of the top two picks), you can be pretty sure the Devils will choose to keep this year’s first rounder.
Having cleared that up, let’s take a look at the mid-season grades for the NHL’s Central Scouting.
North American Skaters – Top 20:
|1||LANDESKOG, GABRIEL||KITCHENER||OHL||6′ 0.5″||207||LW|
|2||COUTURIER, SEAN||DRUMMONDVILLE||QMJHL||6′ 4″||195||C|
|3||NUGENT-HOPKINS, RYAN||RED DEER||WHL||6′ 0.5″||170||C|
|4||HUBERDEAU, JONATHAN||SAINT JOHN||QMJHL||6′ 1.25″||168||C|
|5||BIGGS, TYLER||USA U-18||USHL||6′ 2″||210||RW|
|6||BAERTSCHI, SVEN||PORTLAND||WHL||5′ 10.5″||175||LW|
|7||HAMILTON, DOUGIE||NIAGARA||OHL||6′ 4.25″||193||D|
|8||SAAD, BRANDON||SAGINAW||OHL||6′ 1.25″||208||LW|
|9||BEAULIEU, NATHAN||SAINT JOHN||QMJHL||6′ 1.75″||185||D|
|10||MURPHY, RYAN||KITCHENER||OHL||5′ 10.5″||176||D|
|11||RATTIE, TY||PORTLAND||WHL||5′ 11″||170||RW|
|12||PHILLIPS, ZACK||SAINT JOHN||QMJHL||6′ 1″||181||C|
|13||MILLER, JONATHAN||USA U-18||USHL||6′ 1.25″||198||C|
|14||SIEMENS, DUNCAN||SASKATOON||WHL||6′ 3″||197||D|
|15||MAYFIELD, SCOTT||YOUNGSTOWN||USHL||6′ 3.5″||197||D|
|16||MORROW, JOSEPH||PORTLAND||WHL||6′ 0.5″||196||D|
|17||NAMESTNIKOV, VLADISLAV||LONDON||OHL||5′ 11.5″||170||C|
|18||JENNER, BOONE||OSHAWA||OHL||6′ 0.75″||194||C|
|19||STROME, RYAN||NIAGARA||OHL||6′ 0.25″||183||C|
|20||JENSEN, NICKLAS||OSHAWA||OHL||6′ 2.25″||188||LW;RW|
European Skaters – Top 20:
|1||LARSSON, ADAM||SKELLEFTEA||SWEDEN||6′ 3″||200||D|
|2||ARMIA, JOEL||ASSAT||FINLAND||6′ 3″||191||RW|
|3||ZIBANEJAD, MIKA||DJURGARDEN JR.||SWE-JR.||6′ 1.5″||191||C|
|4||BRODIN, JONAS||FARJESTAD||SWEDEN||6′ 1″||165||D|
|5||JASKIN, DMITRI||SLAVIA JR.||CZREP-JR.||6′ 1″||196||W|
|6||FRIBERG, MAX||SKOVDE||SWEDEN-3||5′ 11″||185||LW|
|7||SALOMAKI, MIIKKA||KARPAT||FINLAND||5′ 11″||198||C|
|8||KLEFBOM, OSCAR||FARJESTAD JR.||SWE JR-2||6′ 3.5″||200||D|
|9||RASK, VICTOR||LEKSAND JR.||SWE-JR.||6′ 1.5″||194||C|
|10||NERMARK, JOACHIM||LINKOPING JR.||SWE-JR.||6′ 1″||187||C|
|11||ARZAMASTSEV, ZAKHAR||NOVOKUZNETSK||RUSSIA||6′ 2″||205||D|
|12||JOHANSSON, KARL||BRYNAS JR.||SWE-JR.||5′ 8.5″||167||D|
|13||MISYUL, OLEG||YAROSLAVL 2||RUSSIA-JR.||6′ 1″||196||D|
|14||BOYCE ROTEVALL, JEREMY||TIMRA JR.||SWE-JR.||6′ 0″||169||LW|
|15||NEKOLENKO, ILYA||KRYLJA SOVETOV 2||RUSSIA-JR.||6′ 3″||198||D|
|16||GRANLUND, MARKUS||HIFK JR.||FINLAND-JR.||5′ 10″||169||C|
|17||SUNDSTROM, JOHAN||FROLUNDA JR.||SWE-JR.||6′ 2.25″||196||C|
|18||SAVELIEV, ANTON||KAZAN 2||RUSSIA-JR.||6′ 4″||196||D|
|19||HOFMANN, GREGORY||AMBRI JR.||SWISS-JR.||6′ 0″||170||C|
|20||SHALUNOV, MAXIM||CHELYABINSK 2||RUSSIA-JR.||6′ 3″||185||RW|
North American Goalies – Top 10:
|1||GIBSON, JOHN||USA U-18||USHL||6′ 2.75″||205|
|2||GIBSON, CHRISTOPHER||CHICOUTIMI||QMJHL||6′ 1″||193|
|3||MACHOVSKY, MATEJ||BRAMPTON||OHL||6′ 1.75″||191|
|4||LISTON, LIAM||BRANDON||WHL||6′ 0.5″||199|
|5||MCNEELY, MATT||USA U-18||USHL||6′ 2″||205|
|6||MICHALEK, STEPHEN||LOOMIS-CHAFFEE||HIGH-CT||6′ 1.75″||183|
|7||BINNINGTON, JORDAN||OWEN SOUND||OHL||6′ 1.75″||160|
|8||HONZIK, DAVID||VICTORIAVILLE||QMJHL||6′ 3″||194|
|9||LAGACE, MAXIME||PEI||QMJHL||6′ 1.25″||175|
|10||GALANSKY, TADEAS||SAGINAW||OHL||6′ 3.25″||186|
European Goalies – Top 8:
|1||PERHONEN, SAMU||JYP JR.||FINLAND-JR.||6′ 3″||172|
|2||STEEN, STEFAN||SKELLEFTEA JR.||SWE-JR.||6′ 1.5″||172|
|3||PAVELKA, JAROSLAV||HR. KRALOVE||CZREP-2||6′ 1″||163|
|4||CONZ, BENJAMIN||LANGNAU||SWISS||5′ 10″||207|
|5||LASSINANTTI, JOEL||LULEA JR.||SWE-JR.||5′ 10″||176|
|6||LUNDSTROM, NIKLAS||AIK JR.||SWE-JR.||6′ 2″||187|
|7||VOLDEN, LARS||BLUES JR.||FINLAND-JR.||6′ 3″||198|
|8||ULLBERG, RICHARD||HIFK JR.||FINLAND-JR.||6′ 3″||183|
The highlighted players, LW – Landeskog, C – Couturier, C – Nugent-Hopkins, D – Larsson and G – Gibson are likely to be one of the Devils’ selections. However, some scouts feel there are as many as eight players who could go first overall.
Couturier and Nugent-Hopkins, centers, would seem to fit the Devils most pressing need. Not only does Couturier have 50 goals and 127 points in 126 games in the QMJHL, but at 6’4″, he has much needed size.
If the Devils are looking for pure talent, and to stay with what’s familiar for them – defense – then Larsson may be the pick. Some scouts say Larsson is ahead of Tampa’s Victor Hedman at this point of his draft year.
Something the Devils don’t usually look at, and certainly not in the first round, is a goalie. However… well, we all know where I’m going with this. So you certainly have to look at the goalies, and John Gibson is the top rated goalie at this point in the rankings.
Gabriel Landeskog, who is the top ranked player at this point, would also be a solid pick.
Nugent-Hopkins rounds out the top five players I feel the Devils would pick if the draft were held today. The draft is not taking place today, so there will certainly be a lot of movement in the rankings in the next five+ months.
Unfortunately, this is a year where Devils’ fans have a reason to pay attention to the top prospects and debate on who could be the Devils (high) first round pick.
The draft this year will be held in Minnesota on June 24th-25th.