I recently posted a retrospective piece on the 1995 Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils team which swept the top seeded Detroit Red Wings behind a remarkable individual playoff performance from winger Claude Lemieux. The Devils are looking to return to those glory years, and the first step toward their new season will be the 2014 NHL Draft being held in Philadelphia tomorrow and Saturday.
I have been reading some of the mainstream media coverage, reviewing prospects and their scouting reports as well as checking the “mock drafts” predicting where the experts believe certain players will be selected. I came across an interesting common thread in those draft predictions, the possibility for Claude Lemieux’s son, Brendan, to be drafted by the Devils with the 30th pick in the first round.
Brendan apparently has shaped his playing style around how his father once dominated the ice. Brendan can score goals and deliver hits with a physicality that the Devils need in their system at this point.
The big question, of course, is will he be available at the 30th pick? The Devils were not supposed to have a first round pick in this draft due to the league mandated penalty on the Ilya Kovalchuk contract. However, the league reversed course and decided to allow the Devils the 30th pick, but they cannot trade the pick up or down in the draft.
Therefore, if they target Brendan Lemieux and are serious about obtaining him, they may have to execute a trade involving other players on their current roster to move up in the first round to select him. Last year, the Devils front office made the bold move of trading their first round draft pick to the Vancouver Canucks to obtain Cory Schneider and solidify their goaltending position for the future. Could the Devils have another trick up their sleeve to obtain a player like Brendan Lemieux?
Draft Day Dealing?
The Montreal Canadiens are looking at Lemieux with the 26th pick, and I saw an article where he talked about meeting with the Detroit Red Wings (oddly enough) and the word around the inner circles in the NHL is that they are considering him with the 15th overall pick.
The key to the next generation of Lemieux to play in New Jersey is the Detroit selection. I qualify this statement because trading up into the top 15 picks is going to most definitely come at a steep price, one that I am not sure the Devils would be willing to pay to draft Brendan Lemieux.
However, if Detroit passes on him and selects a different player, and he falls further down the draft board then I could envision a scenario where the Devils could try to move up a few slots to take him. I could see that happening especially if New Jersey has any indication that Montreal might select him at the 26th slot.
On the other hand, the Devils may decide that they do not want to part with current roster players with experience on the professional level for an 18 year old prospect who will not contribute on the NHL level right away. New Jersey could choose to simply stand firm with the last selection of the first round and select the best available player in the draft pool at that point.
If that scenario did play out tomorrow night in Philadelphia with the Devils trading up to obtain Brendan Lemieux it would have two parallels to the draft last year. The team would have executed a draft night trade to get a player that they need badly from an organizational point of view as they did last year to get Schneider from the Canucks.
New Jersey also would have obtained a second generation player from one of their Stanley Cup winning teams if they obtain Lemieux tomorrow, and last year they drafted Martin Brodeur’s son, Anthony, who is also a goaltender.
It should be an interesting draft with the potential to fill holes for many teams including the Devils. Please keep visiting us here at Pucks & Pitchforks for complete coverage of the Devils 2014 NHL Draft from a fan’s perspective.
(Some background information courtesy of NHL.com and NJ.com)