Prospect Info: 2018 Devils Draft Preview: Top 10 Right Defensemen

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  1. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

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    Under Ray Shero and a strong scouting staff, the New Jersey Devils have built a strong foundation for future success. They are strong in both the NHL and the prospect pipeline at center and LW, and at RW they have Kyle Palmieri at the NHL level and top prospect Joey Anderson ready to break in next season. Where they need help, as we all know, is on the blueline. Fortunately, the 2018 draft is stronger and deeper at D than anywhere else. Here's my top 10 prospects on the right side.

    1. Adam Boqvist the brother of Devils' F prospect Jesper Boqvist is actually more reminiscent in style to Erik Karlsson. He's a tremendous stickhandler and skater, with a cannon of a shot which belies his modest size. He has high-scoring, first-pairing potential in the NHL. The knock about his having defensive liabilities is extremely overstated -- he has really improved in his own zone over the past season-plus. Chances he comes to NJ: slim to none -- he's a top 10 pick.

    2. Noah Dobson it's not about what Dobson can do so much as there isn't much he cannot do. He's a terrific skater, he's got projectable size and physicality, he's great in all three zones, a can zip passes tape to tape and blast the puck. He was perhaps the biggest reason Acadie-Bathurst dominated the QMJHL this season. Chances he comes to NJ: slim to none -- just really difficult to see him falling past Edmonton at #10.

    3. Evan Bouchard right now, Bouchard is the best D on this list. The reason I have him down a couple of spots is that he is, at best, an average skater -- and I weigh a lot on skating. But it's important to note that the rest of his game is so phenomenal that there is barely a hair between Bouchard and my top two. He's the best passer and shooter on this list, and quite possibly the smartest player. He's big and physical and a beast defensively. Just an outstanding player. Chances he comes to NJ: slim to none -- he's a lock for the top 10.

    4. Bode Wilde it's important to note that Bode's upside is comparable to anyone on this list. His skating ability is elite, his shot is outstanding. He's big, and though not consistently physical, he can lay the occasional huge hit. The reason he is not in the top three is quite simply that he has a larger gap between his current game and his talent ceiling. Though he can occasionally just dominate the tempo of a game, he can be inconsistent and disappear for stretches of ice time. Chances he comes to NJ: legitimate; though his upside could get him drafted in the top 10, some major bureaus do not have him ranked until the 20s. If he fell to #17, the Devils would, without a doubt, consider him based on his tremendous #1D upside.

    5. Jett Woo one of my favorite players in this draft, and not just because he may have the greatest name ever in history. He's a physical beast and a true shut-down defensive defenseman. He reminds me a lot of Dion Phaneuf, but maybe without the rocket shot. Though his offensive vision does not make him a #1D candidate, he is a terrific skater and solid with the puck, which would make him a perfect #2 compliment to a top offensive defenseman. Chances he comes to NJ: unfortunately not high -- he would be a reach at #17, and the Devils would need a high second-rounder to have any shot at this monster out of Moose Jaw.

    6. Ryan Merkley the most troubling player to assess in this entire draft, simply because his talent outshines everyone on this list but his personality is generally believed to be conveyed in the opening syllable of "assess". His skating, vision and stick handling rival Rasmus Dahlin, the slam-dunk top pick of this draft. His defensive play is best described as... come to think of it, it's best off not being described at all. But again, we're talking about a kid who, despite all the talent, missed several games this year due to selfish suspensions and healthy scratches. If he can flick a switch and grow up and figure it out? He can win a Norris Trophy someday. If not? He can be in the ECHL in five years. Chances he comes to NJ: possible -- his skill set fits precisely into what Shero is trying to build in New Jersey, plus he's a top-3 talent likely to be available at #17. But Shero and Castron have also seemed to value character at the draft table -- something which, thus far at least, would land him on the Devils' "Do-Not-Draft-List".

    7. Nils Lundqvist another undersized, offensive defenseman, the young Swede has the usual pros-and-cons of that moniker: he's smart and fast and skilled and can put up points, but he can also be pushed around in his own zone and comes with some risk. However, the kid has a tremendous hockey IQ and top-3 D potential, so he shouldn't be ignored as a first-round candidate. Chances he comes to NJ: pretty low -- he'd be a reach at #17 and the Devils have no 2nd rounder.

    8. Calen Addison there is just a hair separating Lundqvist and Addison in my book. They're very similar -- both undersized offensive D-men with big scoring upside but liabilities in the defensive and physical games. Lundqvist has a higher hockey IQ but Addison is faster -- just a beautiful skater. He lit it up at a point-per-game pace this year in the WHL for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Chances he comes to NJ: pretty low -- he's be a reach at #17 and the Devils have no second rounder.

    9. Ty Emberson I disagree with a lot of the "hockey analytics" fanatics who somehow think there is no value to an extremely physical, stay-at-home defenseman. While it's tough to win with six of them, it's tough not to win without one or two. Emberson might be the most physical D in this draft -- he's just a beast. And while it would be impossible to describe him as "fast", he's quite mobile. He'll never pile in points on your top pairing, but he will clear creases, win in the corners, lay huge open-ice hits and stand up for teammates. He always makes the safe play with the puck and has a very high floor as a bottom-4 NHL stalwart. Chances he comes to NJ: not impossible -- he could fall to the third round, and I would not be shocked if the Devils picked up a pick in that area of the draft. He would certainly fit an organizational need as the Devils lack this type of player from the NHL level on down.

    10. Alec Regula in my mind, this young London Knight is the most underrated RD in the class of 2018. What's not to like about a 6'4 beast who is mobile and possesses a great combination of puck skills and defensive acumen? Sure, he's a work in process and has a huge gap between his current game and a potentially stratospheric ceiling, but what if? This is a kid you take in the 4th round and it doesn't make headlines, then four years later he's Colton Parayko and the rest of the league is wondering how they slept on him. Chances he comes to NJ: notable -- this is precisely the type of high-upside D the Devils should be looking at in the 4th round.

    RD to keep an eye on for the Devils in the mid-to-late rounds
    Axel Andersson
    Joey Keane
    Jack St. Ivany
     
  2. Prezidentas Zubrus

    Prezidentas Zubrus Palm Trees/MadDog172430

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    Still would love to see us take Wilde. Questions about his consistency aside, he has all of the tools to become a great all-around defender. Would certainly be thrilled if we brought him in.
     
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  3. Zippy316

    Zippy316 aka Zippo

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    How did your favorite prospect K'Andre Miller not make this list?
     
  4. My3Sons

    My3Sons Registered User

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    He’s a LD.
     
  5. New Jersey Devils

    New Jersey Devils Doc & Chico Forever

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    Based on the recent interview with Shero about trading down to get more assets, I would love if we traded down to like 25-30 and took Woo. Steve, he's not a reach in the late first would he?
     
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  6. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

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    No, Woo would be a solid and relatively safe pick for any team once you get to the late 20s. His mix of physicality/smarts/character/great skates gives him a very high floor, I'd say he's a lock to make it as at least a bottom-3 D. I'm going to say he goes off the board in the 28-40 range. The only question is Woo's offensive upside. Is he a young Seabrook, who can play 20+ minutes a game and contribute 30+ points and play on a second PP unit? Or is he a physical, smart, simple, stay-at-home guy?

    The only way I can see Woo to the Devils (unfortunately, obviously I'm a fan) is if they traded down -- hypothetically something like the #17 pick to Detroit for picks #30 and #33 or something. This would not be a bad move, as the Devils could (also hypothetically) come away with a nice haul of, say, Woo and Dellandrea with those picks, or Alexeyev and Kaut, or something to that degree.
     
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