The New Jersey Devils took an intriguing player with their 5th-round pick.
The New Jersey Devils did pretty well with their 2020 NHL Draft class. Going into the 5th round, Tom Fitzgerald already took guaranteed commodities in Alexander Holtz and Dawson Mercer, high-upside plays in Nicolas Daws and Shakir Mukhamadullin, plus a couple of interesting options in Ethan Edwards and Jaromir Pytlík. The Devils could have gone off the reservation with their 130th pick. Instead, they took one of the best players on the draft board in Artem Shlaine.
Shlaine is heading to the University of Connecticut after playing for the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s program. Some of the stars that have gone through that high school program include Zach Parise, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Nathan MacKinnon. He had two really good seasons with Shattuck before committing his college years to UConn.
It’s a real surprise that the Devils were able to get Shlaine this late in the draft. There were some saying he should go in the Top 100, but this feels like it was the right spot to take a player like Shlaine. He still has some growing to do, and there is somewhat of a mystery of what he will become as a player. The dual Russian and U.S. citizen has hockey in his blood, and he’s ready to make something of his career.
He makes the right play a lot. Once he grows into his 6’1 frame, theoretically that should lead to a really good player. Obviously, it’s only theoretical. This actually has to happen. However, having a player like Shlaine who showed he knows what he’s supposed to do on the ice makes it a lot easier on coaches during his development.
His creativity is probably what drew the Devils to him in the 6th round. There’s something of a chaos when he has the puck because almost anything can happen.
Shlaine isn’t an A pick because there’s still a lot that can happen in his career. Also, there were some very intriguing options on the board like Anton Johannesson and Pavel Novak who might be more of a guaranteed asset. Still, Shlaine will be a fun player to watch. He still has at least two years before it’s known what he is.