New Jersey Devils Must Keep All Three 1st-Round NHL Draft Picks

The New Jersey Devils have huge assets in their 1st-round picks.

The New Jersey Devils are an extremely young team that’s likely going to get a lot younger throughout their organization this offseason. They will also get a lot more talented. The Devils are currently slotted to make the seventh, 18th, and 20th selection at next months’ NHL Draft. This is considered a very deep draft with lots of talent throughout, so the Devils should be very weary about trading one of those picks.

After seeing how teams are still valuing draft picks, it might be in the Devils best interests to take the picks off the table in trades.

Our biggest example is the Kasperi Kapenen trade between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Penguins spent not only the 15th-overall pick to get the young forward, but they gave the Leafs prospect Filip Hallander, who was ranked as their fourth-best prospect by our friends at Puck Prose before the season. That’s an insane price to pay for a player that only moves the needle slightly.

This would especially be insane for the Devils. Kapanen is 24 years old, so it’s not like he’s purely a win-now player, but if the Devils made the same deal that the Penguins made for, say, Michael McLeod and the 18th-overall pick, are they any closer to being a playoff team? Does this even add one win to their record?

Then, last week the Montreal Canadiens traded a 3rd-round pick for goaltender Jake Allen. Allen is a good enough goalie to be worth a 3rd-round pick, but what didn’t make sense is the St. Louis Blues desperately needed to get him off their salary cap to sign Alex Pietrangelo but still got value for him.

There’s rumors that teams are looking to cut salary with the pandemic cutting revenues by a lot, and the Devils haven’t been considered one of those teams yet. It seems like the Devils have an opportunity to use their young assets and picks to get really good players for less than market value. However, the trades that already happened show that market value still reigns supreme despite the lack of revenues. A flat cap isn’t stopping teams from paying well for expensive talent.

This should cause the Devils to say no to just about any trade involving their 1st-round picks. The seventh-overall pick needs to be off the table in any trade. Getting a player like Marco Rossi or Lucas Raymond is too important to the future of this franchise to let go in any deal. Even if that deal involves a star like Patrik Laine, seventh overall is not available.

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The thought was the 18th and 20th-overall pick would be good to use to get more NHL-ready talent on the team now. Those are still good picks that teams covet, and the Devils could center a trade around that. However, if the talent you’re getting is of the level of Kapanen, and the Devils have to add a good prospect on top of it, the trade just isn’t worth it. Keeping the picks will make the Devils a better team overall.