The New Jersey Devils need more defensemen in their prospect pool. Seven of our Top 25 prospects are defensemen, and only one is in the top five. That’s Kevin Bahl, who plays a very specific role. Reilly Walsh is another player with NHL aspirations, but the list after that has a lot of red flags. The Devils need to add defensemen this season.
They are expected to add one with the fourth-overall pick. The largest consensus has them picking between Luke Hughes and Brandt Clarke. That would really help to get a defenseman who has the ability to play a number-one role if they hit their ceiling. This is important for the Devils.
Even if the Devils take a defenseman with the fourth-overall pick, that wouldn’t stop them from taking a defenseman with the 29th-overall pick (which is actually the 28th pick of the 1st round). There are some really good options here, and the Devils could snatch up someone that other teams overlooked. Teams are going to prioritize defensemen and centers with the first 20 picks, but extra scouting will help the Devils in a year when other teams in these spots were focusing on playoff runs.
The Devils got this pick in the Kyle Palmieri–Travis Zajac deal with the New York Islanders. It could have been in the 19-23 range, but the Islanders kept winning. They made it to the semi-finals in part due to Palmieri’s contributions, so the Islanders will say they are happy with the deal even if Palmieri leaves in free agency. The Devils will be happier still if they can get an NHL defenseman at the end of the 1st round. Here are some that could be available.