Jersey Joe's New Jersey Devils Three-Round Mock Draft: Scouts Edition

The New Jersey Devils have a huge decision to make with the 10th-overall pick in the NHL Draft, but that doesn't take away from their mid-round picks, where Tom Fitzgerald has been skilled in choosing future contributors.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

As the New Jersey Devils prepare for the 2024 NHL Draft with picks 10, 75, 92, 139, 154, and 172 in hand, GM Tom Fitzgerald and his group of scouts will get together and make picks for the future come late June. To be more clear, the New Jersey Devils need to get ahead in getting more physical, big bodies, strong players, very good defensive players, and playoff-style prospects in this year's draft.

The Devils should not go with smaller frame skaters and should prioritize players who are also able to be aggressive, play more persistent, and treat every game like a Stanley Cup Championship-clinching game. The Devils did not draft a goalie last year, and they should make a selection for another goalie in net while Jakub Malek is under Liiga contract until the 2025-26 season

Michael Hage - 10th Overall

Michael Hage the centerman out of the USHL is more the hipster prospect not many people are thinking of in the Top 10-16. However, on the Chicago Steel, Hage amassed 33 goals and 75 points in 54 games played. He is committed to going to The University of Michigan next season. In one of the scouting reports over at Draft Pro I had covered when he played versus the Madison Capitols in a 7:6 victory on September 29, 2023:

He is a very strong power forward who uses his size and controls the puck really well in tight spaces versus the opposition and the goaltender. He is strong along his defensive zone as a center and makes a lot of heads-up passes from stretch passes to short passes. Michael Hage is a very elite shooter and can play like a winger when he gets open on the quiet ice. Hage has a lethal wrist shot and is not afraid to use it when he has the chance. The centerman makes a very good effort to keep opponents in check and is a more agile and more physical play similar to Travis Zajac as a young center.

Skating: 8.55/10
Puck Skill: 8/10
Scoring Ability 8.2/10
Playmaking Ability 8.75/10
Character 8.55/10
Physicality 8.25/10
Defensive Play 7.85/10

Stian Solberg - 75th Overall

Left-handed defenseman Stian Solberg has really evolved his skating game. He is a very reliable defensive threat who gets involved in his own zone, a good skater who is really good at passing cleanly and crisply in the offensive zone, and a Norwegian, and it is a banner year for Norwegian Hockey in this draft class. Guys like Solberg don't come around very often and are unique because they play a more old-school North American style.

Solberg is moving on from the Norwegian U20 League and Internationally this season he had yielded 2.2 Hits per game and 1.15 Shots Blocked this season. He is 6'2, 201lb, and built like an ox. He does a great job striking fear into opponents. He will be playing for Farjestad BK in the Swedish SHL, so he is looking to grow his game to the next level. If the Devils do add him, he would not take 1-3 seasons to add more skill, depth, and size into the Devils pipeline. His addition would diversify the amount of physical defensive defenders would make it easier for offensive defensemen.

If the Devils move Seamus Casey to forward or move another defenseman low on the depth chart, this will allow Stian to step up in the ranks over time while guys like Luke Hughes and Kevin Bahl all become veterans. This would allow Solberg to come to spend time in Utica and gain experience at the North American level while Daniil Misyul could be the third-placing defender. Over time, Solberg's big, physical, and defensive presence will make his debut in the NHL.

Solberg has moved into the 2/10 category recently in the past Tournament in scoring for Norway in my ratings, and his skating is now 7.25/10, so there has been a little extra improvement since October 5, 2023, when he faced off against IHK Sparta Sarpsborg.

Skating 6.5/10
Puck Skill 6/10
Scoring Ability 0/10
Playmaking Ability 7/10
Character 8/10
Physicality 9/10
Defensive Play 9/10.

91st overall: John Whipple

John Whipple, LHD, out of the USNTDP Program, had a really successful season there and on the USHL program. He was a key cog along with teammate EJ Emery, helping power the defense, and Whipple did more of the lifting on the left side.

Whipple is a Morristown, New Jersey native and size and game wise resembles former Devils defenseman Paul Martin, and John Moore. One of the things that popped out to me when I wrote a scouting report on him during November 12, 2023:

Very fluid on his edges, always surveying the ice. Vigilant defensively in the offensive end. Great poke checking on the offensive end. Great pokechecker and he controls the offensive attackers in the neutral zone in taking away time and space. Whipple can be a bit of a playmaker but focuses on clearing his zone. Comparable 2-way game in John Moore with the way John Whipple plays. Needs to be more physical along the boards as he matures.

Skating 9/10
Puck Skill 7.5/10
Scoring Ability 6/10
Playmaking Ability 8/10
Character 10/10
Physicality 6.4/10
Defensive Play 10/10.

He has moved up a bit to 7.35 on the physicality aspect as he has gotten better in the past ten games of the season and has remained consistent in his growth before he plays next season at the University of Minnesota.