It’s time for another edition of New Jersey Devils news and rumors. The NHL Draft and free agency are exactly two weeks away, and details about what the Devils may be planning are starting to make their way to the surface. Here’s what you may have missed over the last week.
Sanderson, Quinn Interview With Devils
It appears Jake Sanderson, one of the top defenseman in the 2020 Draft, has had a couple of pre-draft interviews with the Devils.
It’s not unusual to see a prospect like Sanderson have multiple interviews with a team such as the Devils, who hold the seventh overall pick at the draft. If he’s available at that spot, he’s definitely an option, though it seems the Devils could be leaning towards taking a forward with that pick.
Aside from Sanderson, right-winger Jack Quinn has had multiple interviews with the Devils. He had a breakout season in the OHL, finishing with 52 goals in 62 games, the most in the CHL. And he plays for the Ottawa 67’s, a team whom the Devils have drafted four players from over the last few years.
Drafting Quinn would the seventh pick would be a reach. But if he slips a bit and is available around the 14th or 15th pick, it’s easy to see the Devils wanting to trade up to draft him. So it doesn’t hurt to do their due diligence.
MacKinnon Named Assistant General Manager
Earlier in the week, the Devils named Dan MacKinnon as their assistant GM. Before then, MacKinnon served as the Devils’ Director of Player Personnel from 2016-2019. The organization promoted him to Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations last season. And he now moves into the role new GM Tom Fitzgerald occupied under former GM Ray Shero.
It’s also worth noting MacKinnon played a role in integrating the team’s analytics department when taking over as Senior VP of Hockey Ops. That’s of note because part of the reason why the Devils fired Shero was due to him shutting out the analytics department, which is headed by Tyler Dellow and Matt Cane. The Devils obviously want that to change moving forward. And it’s probably safe to bet MacKinnon will have a role in helping Cane and Dellow become much more involved in the team’s decision-making moving forward.
Last week, The Athletic’s Pierre Lebrun reported the Devils and right-winger Kyle Palmieri have had preliminary talks about a contract extension. This week, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period backed that up, noting the two sides are talking.
The Devils are in a tough spot with Palmieri. He’s been their most consistent forward over the last five seasons and has one year left on his deal. But he will be 30 years old when a long-term extension kicks in. If he’s looking to land a seven or eight-year deal, Fitzgerald will have to consider if that’s the best path forward.
Palmieri plays a physical style of hockey, one that doesn’t always lend to aging well. At the same time, he doesn’t rely on speed and is one of the more underrated shooters in the league. If there’s a way to a five-year extension, it makes sense to keep him around. Otherwise, Fitzgerald will have to think about trading him. So it should be one of the more interesting storylines to watch over the next few weeks.
Sharangovich off To Hot Start in the KHL
Because the 2020-21 NHL season will get off to a delayed start, that’s led to several teams loaning out their prospects to get some playing time in various European leagues. The Devils are no exception, and one player who’s standing out so far is Yegor Sharangovich.
Sharangovich, who was a Devils’ fifth-round pick at the 2018 Draft, is on loan with Dinamo Minsk (KHL). In seven games, he’s totaled three goals and three assists, including a goal and assist in a 4-3 win yesterday over Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg.
Sharangovich has been an intriguing prospect since the Devils drafted him. He has good size, at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, but his offensive upside has always been a question mark. If he continues to succeed in the KHL, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when he returns to North America. The Devils will have a few spots open in their bottom-six, and he could hold one down if his play in the KHL is a sign of things to come.
Make sure to keep an eye on our Devils page, as well as our social media accounts, over the next few weeks. There should be plenty more Devils news and rumors to come with free agency and the draft less than two weeks away.