Upgrade your account today to enjoy the forums ad-free.
Click here to upgrade: Account Upgrades

Prospect Info: 2018 Draft Devils Preview; Top 10 Centers

Discussion in 'New Jersey Devils' started by StevenToddIves, May 28, 2018.

  1. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

    Joined:
    May 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,239
    Likes Received:
    447
    Trophy Points:
    94
    Occupation:
    Sports journalist
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'm going to do a new series of threads where I rank the players in the draft by position. Though center is not the position of utmost organizational need for the Devils (that would be LD, followed by RD), I always believed a prospect pipeline can never have too many pivots. Most centers also have the ability to play the wing, which gives a coach more versatility -- see: Henrique, Zacha, Coleman, Gibbons. Moving a winger to center is far more problematic, unless you are a superstar like Patrik Elias or Blake Wheeler.

    (NOTE: for those wondering where Akil Thomas and Isac Lundestrom are, I am ranking them as wingers, where I think they will wind up in the NHL. Also, Oliver Wahlstrom and Brady Tkachuk are, for some unknown reason, often listed as centers. They are not.)



    1. Joe Veleno for all the talk about his lack of high-end scoring skill, he poured in the points after a mid-season trade to Drummondville. He has no weakness in his game; he's fast, skilled, hard-working, competitive, smart and plays two ways. The most surefire NHL 1C in the class of 2018. Chances of going to NJ: very slim. Veleno could go in the top 10, and it would be a shock to see him get past the Islanders twin picks at #11 & #12.

    2. Barrett Hayton everything about this kid is very good, but the lack of a singular dynamic skill will keep him out of the top 10. What you're looking at is an un-sexy pick, but a very safe and possibly extremely rewarding one. His tenacity, competitive drive, excellent wheels and outstanding defensive acumen have led to a litany of comparisons to Patrice Bergeron. I don't think there's a hockey team on earth that would not want a guy like that. Chances of going to NJ: slim, but not impossible. He could drop because of a perceived lack of high-offensive upside, and would make a perfect #2 C behind Nico. But I would still be very surprised to see Hayton drop to #17.

    3. Jesperi Kotkaniemi this talented Finn has been shooting up draft boards with an absolutely incredible showing at the IIHF. His puck skills and smarts are absolutely off the charts. The only reason I have him below Hayton is that I place a high emphasis on skating speed (as do Shero & Castron), and his singular weakness is an average set of wheels. Chances of going to NJ: slim to none -- he could be the first center off the board, there is even talk of Montreal considering him at #3 overall.

    4. Rasmus Kupari in terms of pure skill, he tops out the class of 2018. His hands and skates are absolutely elite. There's a ton of upside here, and he has the potential to be the best of all these guys a decade down the road. Then, why is he just #4? Well, there's a bit of boom/bust in him -- Kupari tends to shy away from physicality and is problematic in the defensive zone. If these aspects do not improve, he's going to have trouble finding an NHL coach to give him regular shifts. Still, it's difficult to deny his Kuznetsov-like upside. Chances of going to NJ: high. Among the list of Devils needs are a #2C behind Nico, and Kupari's electrifying speed fits in with the Devils top organizational priority. His hands could be as good as anyone in this draft, and he could fall to 17 because of a need to improve his all-around play.

    5. Ty Dellandrea I have this kid ranked as high as anyone, but I watch him play and he stands out every time. His stats were negatively affected by playing on an absolutely atrocious Flint team, but I think if Dellandrea were on the London Knights everyone would be talking about him as a top 20 pick. He's as smart as any C in the draft, skates extremely well, plays two ways, can dish the puck and bury it. When he finally got to play with similarly talented players at the U18 he absolutely shone. Chances of going to NJ: low, unless the Devils trade down for a late 1st/early 2nd. Someone is getting a huge bargain here.

    6. Ryan McLeod the younger brother of Devils prospect Mikey McLeod, he's another player who is very good at every aspect of the game but does not blow your mind with any one skill. He is comparable to Mikey, but while he is a very good skater, he lacks the jersey-flapping speed of his older sibling. He is versatile in that he can play in a scoring or checking role, at either C or RW. Chances of going to NJ: unlikely -- it's difficult to envision the Devils drafting a player who is a similar version of a more-developed prospect at the same position.

    7. Jake Wise another extremely underrated player. He was a bit lost as the 2nd line C on a US-NTDP team behind 2019 surefire 1st overall pick Jack Hughes, but he oozes upside. Wise is very fast, excellent two-ways, a dangerous penalty killer. His passing and vision are exceptional. The things he needs to work on are all very correctible -- core strength and a propensity to eschew scoring opportunities to over-pass. Chances of going to NJ: low, unless the Devils trade into the 2nd round.

    8. Jacob Olofsson I see Olofsson as a slightly less-polished version of Hayton. He's a do-it-all two-way pivot who skates well and plays an extremely smart game. While he lacks Hayton's wolverine-like tenacity, he is also competitive. I think we're looking at a very high-floor, mid-six center with some scoring pop. Chances of going to NJ: low, unless the Devils trade down into the late first round.

    9. Liam Foudy could be #1 on my "steal of the draft" list. Foudy's numbers won't blow anyone away, unless one looks at his splits once the London Knights decided to move him to a scoring line. What you notice most about this kid is his speed -- it is downright blinding. He might be up there with Quinton Hughes as the best skaters in this entire draft. And his puck skills, all-around play and competitiveness are all very good and showing a terrific development curve. Chances of going to NJ: significant -- he's exactly the type of player Shero has been trying to build around. He could fall into the late 2nd/early 3rd round, and I could see Shero jumping hurdles to try to get this kid in Jersey.

    10. Benoit-Oliver Groulx smart, big and physical -- Groulx projects as a prototype bottom-6 center. He played behind Nico Hischier in Halifax last season, and this season inherited the top role. He really upped his game to the tune of nearly PPG scoring and 100 PIM. He's the toughest of all the Cs on this list, but he lacks top-end speed. Chances of going to NJ: slim to none -- he's not a logical pick where the Devils are selecting and does not fit into the organizational philosophy. But he has a very high-floor and I'd be shocked if we don't see him in the NHL.

    Centers the Devils could target in the later rounds:
    Tyler Madden
    Cam Hillis
    Ivan Morozov
    Alexander Khovanov
    Jay O'Brien
     
    OmNomNom, nugg, My3Sons and 4 others like this.
  2. Darkauron

    Darkauron Registered User

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Messages:
    5,623
    Likes Received:
    1,725
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Location:
    South Jersey
    Thanks for another awesome list!!! You really are such a great help
     
    StevenToddIves likes this.
  3. Ripshot 43

    Ripshot 43 Registered User

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    791
    Trophy Points:
    109
    Location:
    Florida
    This is great info Steven. Thank you for sharing and helping create good debates. Seeing your wrote up on a few of these center prospects just enforces my belief of drafting BPA despite organizational needs (minus goalies)
     
    StevenToddIves likes this.
  4. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

    Joined:
    May 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,239
    Likes Received:
    447
    Trophy Points:
    94
    Occupation:
    Sports journalist
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks!

    I think it will be more fun for Devils fans to have lists to consult when draft day arrives. For instance, if the Devils were to hypothetically acquire a 3rd round pick, I'd expect the Foudy-talk to ramp up immediately. He's got legit NHL 2C upside and he fits in with the organizational philosophy. If I were betting on an OHL player to jump up the scoring ranks next season it would be him -- I think he can top 80 points on London in 2018-19.

    My next list will be LW, but most of the players on it will be unlikely fits in NJ -- it is the one position the Devils are absolutely stacked at. In the NHL there's Hall/Mojo/Wood/Bratt/Coleman and Zacha can play there, too. Quenneville and Boqvist should both make a push for the club next year, as well.
     
  5. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

    Joined:
    May 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,239
    Likes Received:
    447
    Trophy Points:
    94
    Occupation:
    Sports journalist
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    You can never have too many centers, and although the class of 2018 is behind the last few drafts at the position, there are some intriguing players whom the Devils brass has certainly noticed.

    Let's say it's the fifth round and (not beyond the realm of possibility) Ivan Morozov is available. Does he have top-line upside? Probably not, but he's a versatile mid-6 candidate who plays two-ways and can play either wing. This versatility gives him a very increased chance of making the NHL. He'd be a great grab if he slips.

    I have already mentioned Tyler Madden in multiple threads. John's son has everything going for him but size. I'd be shocked if the Devils were not at least considering him with their fourth-round pick.
     
    nugg and My3Sons like this.
  6. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

    Joined:
    May 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,239
    Likes Received:
    447
    Trophy Points:
    94
    Occupation:
    Sports journalist
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'm attaching a Liam Foudy video which displays some of his scoring skill, although it does not do justice to his absolutely phenomenal skating speed and ability. I'm going to mention Foudy more in the future, because he really fits the Shero-blueprint of a fast/skilled/competitive/smart player and he will be an absolute steal if he falls past the second round.

     
  7. MartyOwns

    MartyOwns i'll ask daneyko

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    13,220
    Likes Received:
    1,536
    Trophy Points:
    169
    it really sucks that we don't have a 2nd or 3rd rounder this year...i feel like there are a few good sleeper picks we'll miss out on
     
  8. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

    Joined:
    May 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,239
    Likes Received:
    447
    Trophy Points:
    94
    Occupation:
    Sports journalist
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I expect Shero to make a deal or two before or on Draft Day. I would not be surprised if recouping a second or third round pick was on his To Do List.
     
    nugg, Darkauron and MartyOwns like this.
  9. Devils Dominion

    Devils Dominion NJD on the Rise

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2007
    Messages:
    43,031
    Likes Received:
    1,871
    Trophy Points:
    186
    It's a deep draft.
    The wrong year not too have a few 2nd rounders.

    Grabner was a complete waste
     
    StevenToddIves and MartyOwns like this.
  10. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

    Joined:
    May 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,239
    Likes Received:
    447
    Trophy Points:
    94
    Occupation:
    Sports journalist
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    It was a bad trade, but not nearly as bad as the Mueller trade. I'm hoping the Devils can find a team before the draft willing to take Mueller for a third rounder. I think that when the Grabner deal was made, he would have ranked second on the Devils in goals -- so it's tough to attack Shero too much.
     
  11. Devils Dominion

    Devils Dominion NJD on the Rise

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2007
    Messages:
    43,031
    Likes Received:
    1,871
    Trophy Points:
    186
    You're not a fan of Mueller?
     
  12. Darkauron

    Darkauron Registered User

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Messages:
    5,623
    Likes Received:
    1,725
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Location:
    South Jersey
    Lol the Mueller trade was MUCH better than the Grabner trade by far imo. Mueller is at least going to be a part of the team and do something.
     
    Devils Dominion likes this.
  13. Goptor

    Goptor Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2016
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    52
    Trophy Points:
    36
    The Grabner trade was good mainly because it means we are not going to sign him long term for way too much money this offseason. A 2nd rounder is well worth not having to watch him play like trash for the next four years.
     
    My3Sons likes this.
  14. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

    Joined:
    May 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,239
    Likes Received:
    447
    Trophy Points:
    94
    Occupation:
    Sports journalist
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I couldn't find much to like about him. He was the least physical Devils D despite being the largest, offensively negligible despite good wheels and a solid skill set. Many shifts he was simply a guy for opposing forwards to skate around on the way to the Devils net.

    I understand that, to Shero, it was like the Bennett trade: acquiring a player with tools notable enough to recently warrant a first-round pick. But the Devils gave him every chance to succeed in 2017-18, and I don't recall any point where he put together more than one or two solid games in a row, and those times were few and far between.
     
  15. StevenToddIves

    StevenToddIves Registered User

    Joined:
    May 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,239
    Likes Received:
    447
    Trophy Points:
    94
    Occupation:
    Sports journalist
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I think there's a strong chance Mueller is gone this off-season.

    At LD, the Devils have a very viable top two of Greene/Butcher. But after the playoff loss to Tampa, I think it's safe to say that Shero saw the blatant need to re-tool the blueline. John Moore is very likely gone as a UFA. He was second on the LD depth chart last year behind Greene, with Butcher getting the third-highest amount of minutes at the position. Mueller was the 4th LD, and also saw some time on the right side. But he never established himself as an NHL-caliber player.

    The signing of Egor Yakovlev, I believe, is meant to replace John Moore. From what I saw of him at the Olympics, Yakovlev is a far better defenseman than Mueller. He plays with unbridled passion and hustle, which I would say makes him the anti-Mueller.

    So, assuming the Devils top-3 LD is Greene/Butcher/Yakovlev, and the RD depth chart (which I think Shero adds to in the off-season) is Vatanen/Severson/Lovejoy-Santini -- you have to wonder where Mueller is going to get his minutes. I'd rather see him shipped off for a third rounder than see his plummeting trade value drop even lower.
     
  16. Zajacs Bowl Cut

    Zajacs Bowl Cut Nova Nation

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Messages:
    52,557
    Likes Received:
    3,251
    Trophy Points:
    186
    Location:
    PA/NJ
    yeah, I highly doubt that

    Greene is not anywhere close to a top pairing DMan anymore. They need to upgrade. Getting rid of Mueller after 1 season in which he suffered a major injury seems like a terrible move. Especially with all the reports about how well he played in the WC.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
    nugg, My3Sons and Darkauron like this.
  17. snwbdgislife

    snwbdgislife Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Steve, I think that if you put yourself in Shero's shoes the Mueller trade makes sense. There was nothing in the pipeline at LD. Butcher had not been signed. Moore was coming up on UFA and Shero probably expected to flip him for a 2nd or 3rd at the deadline. So the net cost of taking a shot on Mueller was relatively low. Plus they needed D depth, who would have expected Greene, Moore, and a yet to be signed rookie to play the full year? Vatanen to be acquired? And Lovejoy to be somewhat functional?

    Even at full cost after a surprising playoff run that prevented trading Moore, if Mueller is a 3rd pairing D who can occasionally step up to 2nd pair that is probably a good outcome for a mid 2nd rounder.

    Now the Grabner trade turned out kind of opposite. Because it originally felt like it was made to get Hayes or Stafford out of the lineup but Hynes played Grabner at LW instead of RW. So NJ was only getting the difference between Grabner and the scratched LW or Bratt. And they gave up Rykov (but they probably knew they were getting Yakovlev). Seems like Rykov has the higher ceiling but Yakovlev was certainly coming to NJ while Rykov's timing and arrival at all was a huge question.

    Thanks for posting all of your draft takes, they are great.
     

Share This Page

monitoring_string = "358c248ada348a047a4b9bb27a146148"