The New Jersey Devils had a quiet start to the day on Thursday. Fans were not happy when Alex DeBrincat was traded to the Ottawa Senators for a first, second and third-round pick. It is laughably far from what they were asking which was the equivalent of four firsts. The Devils could easily have traded the second-overall pick for him and with the poor return he could have probably been had for Alexander Holtz or Shakir Mukhamadullin plus a second rounder.
DeBrincat has been the fourth best scorer in the league behind Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Auston Matthews, so missing out on him for such a low price shows they did not do their due diligence. Fans have a very good reason to be mad.
After this the draft started and Montreal shocked the world when they took Juraj Slafkovsky, a massive boom-or-bust prospect who could be a 30-goal scoring power forward or a 30-point third liner. The Devils were handed Shane Wright on a golden platter and they absolutely blew it taking Simon Nemec second overall.
I’m not saying he can’t be a good player, but there was a very clear consensus top three and personally he was not even the top defender on my rankings. The Devils feel they need to get better defensively and that is fine, but they took the puck moving defender who lacks physicality when they already used top picks on Mukhamadullin and Luke Hughes to fill the exact role this is supposed to fill.
Dougie Hamilton will be a PP guy for six more years, Hughes should be in the next slot, and if they even want to run a third defender on a powerplay, it’s still a question whether Nemec will be that guy. The Devils top 4 looks solid and if they had a competent goalie, it would show. Moving forward, they will probably be getting rid of strong proven assets like Ryan Graves and Damon Severson to make room for more unproven guys who don’t play as much defense even though this has killed the team for years.
Shane Wright had a chip on his shoulder not going first overall. You could see it the second the camera panned to him. A high-end player who already feels overlooked and has a burning drive and high compete level is just such an obvious pick to make and it will hurt the franchise to watch him succeed elsewhere.
This team was given a second Nico Hischier thanks to winning the draft lottery and the Habs messing up big time but even with the stars aligning they took a guy that should have went #5.
Take the best player available don’t draft for perceived need!
This team has went off the board so many times now that we can expect it to happen until they are moved on from and quite frankly my faith in them is pretty much gone. Shak was a huge stretch and a bad pick that still looks bad. Stillman was a huge reach that still looks bad and this was a reach with the #1 guy still on the board.
We will be cheering hard for Nemec and the Devils but it is not a good day to be a fan.