New Jersey Devils: How Did Jesper Bratt Fall To 6th Round In NHL Draft?

New Jersey Devils - Jesper Bratt (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
New Jersey Devils - Jesper Bratt (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils are lucky that Jesper Bratt fell to them in the 6th round of the 2016 NHL Draft. However, it makes us wonder how it happened.

Right now, Jesper Bratt is enjoying the best season of his career for the New Jersey Devils. As of Sunday, he has 48 points in 47 games. He’s on pace for a point per game. Bratt would be the first Devils player since Taylor Hall’s MVP season to accomplish this over a full season if he stays on this pace. This is a player who’s just 23 years old, and he was a 6th round pick. In his NHL Draft year, only six players have more points than him. Five of those players were taken in the top ten. One was Alex DeBrincat, who was taken by the Chicago Blackhawks in the top 40. Bratt, on the other hand, was taken with the 162nd-overall pick.

No other 4th to 7th round pick made it into the top 20 in points, yet the Devils got Bratt so late. Brandon Hagel is closest, and he’s 22nd in points when it comes to his draft class. Bratt is clearly a diamond in the rough. After Bratt, only the Florida Panthers’ Maxim Mamin has played at least 25 games. The Devils had a choice, and they hit it out of the park with Bratt. One of those players was Jeremy Davies, once one of the Devils most interesting prospects who was a part of the P.K. Subban trade.

So we wanted to go back in time and see why Jesper Bratt fell as far as he did. One of the things that really stood out was his height and size. He stood at 5’10 and was 174 lbs. at the draft. He still showed some slight moments of talent, like when he scored four points at the 5 Nations Tournament in 2015. That’s where the Devils say Bratt caught their eye. There was clearly something there, but it would be a question of opportunity and ability.

How did Jesper Bratt fall to the New Jersey Devils in the 6th round of the NHL Draft?

Doing some gymnastics to bring Hockey Prospectus back from the dead, we saw Jimmy Hamrin write back in 2016 that Bratt had skating that really stood out. In those later rounds, we see teams take a chance on a guy with a lot of size or a massive shot, but one that needs help with his skating. This is the opposite. Bratt was a great skater right off the bat.

The other great thing about Bratt was his ability to find space without the puck. His motor kept running, and that was obviously something then-New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero coveted. His puck control was another plus. Most players have trouble at that age dealing with their own speed and handling the puck. Bratt did not fall in that category. He could handle the puck with speed.

The Devils were clearly taking a chance, but Bratt was 17 years old at the time of the Draft with a July 30th birthday. He was one of the younger players in the NHL Draft. So when the Devils did allow Bratt to make the opening night roster in 2017, he was the first teenager to play in the league after he was drafted that low since 1995.

One of the main issues with Bratt was he completely disappeared in the U18 World Juniors. While it’s one thing to struggle in the SHL as a 17 year old playing against men, it’s another thing to struggle against other teenagers. He did score four points, but six other players on his Swedish team did better.

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The final assessment is that Bratt came into the draft with a lot of potential but a ton of questions. He answered those questions pretty quickly and made the NHL in his draft+2 year. Now, Bratt is one of the Devils best players and a clear superstar in the making.