New Jersey Devils: Chase Stillman’s Performance Causes Concern

Chase Stillman #61 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
Chase Stillman #61 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images) /

Tom Fitzgerald has close to a perfect record as New Jersey Devils GM. He’s won most of his trades, and even the losses have a clear advantage for his team. His free agent signings for the most part made sense at the time and weren’t a detriment over the course of the deal. We’ll see how some of his longer term deals work, but he’s looked like one of the best GMs in the league so far. If there is one complaint, it’s the players he chooses at the end of the first round of the NHL Draft.

There are really only two examples, and they both had fans up in arms. In 2020, the Devils had three first-round picks. The third was 20th overall, and they used it on Russian defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin. He was projected to go in the 50s, but the Devils didn’t have a second-round pick because of the P.K. Subban trade. So, they jumped the gun on Mukhamadullin. They used him in the Timo Meier trade, so he brought some significant value.

The other late first-round pick came in the Kyle PalmieriTravis Zajac trade with the New York Islanders. They made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, so the pick was 29th overall. After taking Luke Hughes fourth overall, 25 picks later they chose Chase Stillman.

This one had everyone scratching their heads. He was projected to go somewhere between late second round or as late as the fourth round. The Devils took him 29th overall. He didn’t have high-end skill, but everyone agreed he had one of the best motors in the draft. Maybe with so much skill already in the Devils system, Fitzgerald drafted a high-quality bottom-six forward.

Stillman has had split results since he was drafted. In his first year after he was drafted, Stillman started with the Sudbury Wolves. Then, he was traded to the Peterborough Petes. It’s his hometown team, and he had 29 points in 35 games in the second half of the season. The next season, he had 48 points in 59 games. It’s a fine number, but it’s not what you expect for a former first-round pick.

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Now, Stillman is joining Devils training camp, and we shouldn’t make judgements until he plays against NHL players. Before that, Stillman is playing in the Prospect Challenge. In the first game, he was one of the bigger names on the Devils side, playing against the Ottawa Senators. Let’s just say he didn’t impress.

When looking at the prospects in the game, he was one of the top in the game. Yet, he didn’t seem like it. It’s early, but he needs to show more. He’s right back at it on Saturday, so he can make us all forget this most recent performance.