New Jersey Devils 2021 Draft Grades And Video Review

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - JULY 23: With the fourth pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils select Luke Hughes during the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at the NHL Network studios on July 23, 2021 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - JULY 23: With the fourth pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils select Luke Hughes during the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at the NHL Network studios on July 23, 2021 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Well, after weeks and weeks of anticipation, we finally saw who the New Jersey Devils picked in the 2021 NHL Draft. Now here we are about to give them these Devils Draft Grades Two questions going into this year’s draft were who would the team take overall at 4th? You also have the question of would the Devils trade the 29th pick overall to get a good player back? While Fitzgerald answered both those questions in the draft, they led to different results.

4th Overall Pick: Luke Hughes Draft Grade: A+

When we got placed 4th overall in the lottery draft, this was one of many people’s picks right away. For many weeks, the fans wanted the Devils to draft Luke Hughes. Then comes the day of the draft. Fitzgerald stepped up to the mic and announced that the pick was going to be Luke Hughes. The Prudential Center crowd is undoubtedly happy, plus Jack’s reaction is lovely every time you watch it. Luke Hughes was the 2nd best defenseman in this year’s class, next to Owen Power. He is a defenseman who, like his brother Jack Hughes is known for his skating and speed. Luke is also known for using his speed to create chances for his teammates. On a team looking for speed to be one of its main assets, this is a great pick. It’s been a long time that we’ve seen brothers on the Devils. Many fans can’t wait to see what Luke brings to the team after his time in Michigan.

29th Overall Pick: Chase Stillman Draft Grade: B-

Before the draft, there was speculation the Devils were going to trade the 29th overall pick. Some said that the selection was going to be used to trade for Timo Meier. Others said the pick could’ve been used to trade for Vladamir Tarasenko. But the Devils decided not to trade the pick and instead go with Chase Stillman. Chase Stillman is Cory Stillman’s son, a two-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Lightning and Hurricanes. Stillman is known for his great hands and has a good shot on top of it. Chase is going to play his second season with the Sudbury Wolves next year. So why is it getting a Devils’ draft grade of B- here? While Stillman is a good prospect, but it was a reach. Many other players the Devils could’ve taken this late in the first round were guys like Sasha Pastujov and Aatu Räty. It reminds us of how last year we drafted Shakir Mukhamadullin in the second round.

68th overall: Samu Salminen   Devils Draft Grade A

In the third round, the Devils drafted Finnish centre, Samu Salminen. Salminen is undoubtedly an excellent pick at this point in the draft. Salminen’s most known asset is his scoring ability, as he is also a good playmaker. In fact, before being drafted, Salminen was the captain of the Under 18 Finland team during the Under 18 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships. Next season, Salminen is playing at the University of Denver. While it may not be the one school many of the top prospects will play for like Michigan is this year, the University of Denver is still a good school. He can get good from coaches who can help him get ready when he eventually gets to play with the Devils. Drafting Samu Salminen receives a Devils Draft Grade A. Even though he was probably going in the second round, having him fall to 68th and be taken by the Devils is perfect.

100th Overall Pick: Jakub Malek   Devils Draft Grade: D

Out of all the draft picks we had this year, this pick is strange. Jakub Malek is a goalie from the Czech Republic who plays for the VHK Vsiten. He is a 6″ 4 goalie, so it seems a pattern for players this year from Fitzgerald is that he likes tall guys. Malek’s highest ever save percentage came from his 2019-20 season, where he had a .927 percentage while also having a 20-8 record that year. Nobody knows much about this pick, which is why it gets a D. Even though he is an eligible prospect, he never got ranked by anyone on goalies coming into the draft.

129th Overall Pick: Topias Vilen      Devils Draft Grade A

In the 5th round, the Devils drafted another Finnish player, but this time it’s a defenseman. Topias Vilen is a 6″ defenseman who is currently playing for the Pelicans in the Liiga league. Vilen is more of a defensive type of defenseman who isn’t usually known as a scorer. Those types of defensemen who can play defense are what the Devils need, and they certainly got one here. Vilen is generally known for his skating, which is excellent, and he has pretty good puck handling. It certainly fills a hole the Devils are looking to fix. While he may not be a game-changer, it is certainly a good pick regardless in the top 100 of the European Skaters, so that’s why he’s getting a Devils draft grade of A.

164th Overall Pick: Viktor Hurtig        Devils Draft Grade: B+

In round #6, the Devils took Sweden defenseman, Viktor Hurtig. Like Tobias Vilen, he got ranked in the top 100 of the European Skaters of this draft, which is always good to see. Hurtig is currently playing in Sweden and is about to join the Växjö Lakers HC U20 team. Hurtig has had several seasons where he gained more than 10 points a year while playing in Sweden. Hurtig is undoubtedly a big defenseman at 6″ 6. He is the same size as Kevin Bahl, which sounds excellent as size is what the Devils we’re looking for in this draft.

203rd Overall Pick: Zakhar Bardakov   Devils Draft Grade: A

For the final pick in this 2021 NHL Draft, the Devils took Zakhar Bardakov, a Russian centre. In Russia, he has played in two big leagues, the MHL and the KHL. His 2019-20 season was undoubtedly his best season in the MHL when he scored 32 points. Currently, he’s going to play in St. Petersburg in the KHL next season. Like many prospects taken in these later rounds, he was in the top 100 of European Skaters. Bardakov is a player who fights for his chances to be on the ice. It’s undoubtedly an excellent pick to round out the picks we had at the 2021 NHL Draft.