The New Jersey Devils could go for defense in the 1st round of the 2020 NHL Draft and Jake Sanderson could be an option early on.
The New Jersey Devils are thin on defense at the NHL level right now. They need to start adding some impact defenseman to their organization so they can maximize the years of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. The consensus top defenseman in this draft is Jamie Drysdale. He might get taken in the top five, and the Devils might take a forward with their own pick, but if they want to go defense with the Arizona pick, Jake Sanderson might be the play.
Jake Sanderson isn’t one of those offensive defensemen that usually go in the 1st round of the draft, but he is still a player who might provide tremendous value to an NHL team someday. He played the 2019-20 season with the United States National Development Program. He had seven goals and 22 assists in 47 games played. They aren’t superstar numbers by any means, but they are certainly impressive for a guy who is considered a defensive defenseman.
The Devils do need a player like Sanderson in the long term. They don’t have that true shutdown guy on their NHL team right now. Kevin Bahl of the Ottawa 67s fits that mold, but he still needs to make the jump to the NHL. Even if Bahl does hit one day, there is no reason that players like Sanderson and Bahl wouldn’t fit well together on the same defense core.
The 2020-21 season is going to involve college hockey for Sanderson. He is going to play for the University of North Dakota. It is unclear how many years he is going to need at the NCAA level, but North Dakota is a good place to be. They always have a good program there and adding Sanderson might be really good for them. He wore the “C” with USNDP so we will have to wait and see what kind of leadership roles he takes on in college.
Sanderson is more of a pick to target with one of their two mid-round picks if they retain them both. He isn’t a guy that isn’t going to be a top-five pick and he might not even be a top-ten pick, but the Devils could certainly use a player like him. Their organizational defense might be given an upgrade during the 2020 draft and Sanderson could lead the way.