The Stanley Cup is over, and we’re now entering the heart of rumor season. And let me tell you, the rumors are flying out there. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the New Jersey Devils’ potential interest in goaltender Yaroslav Askarov, a possible trade for Mikhail Sergachev, and some prospects news.
Let’s dive into what was a busy week.
Devils Considering Askarov at Seventh Overall?
On the latest episode of the Puck Soup Podcast (about an hour and five minutes in), ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski mentioned the Devils are giving serious consideration to drafting Askarov with the seventh pick. Askarov is the best goaltending prospect in years, perhaps since Carey Price went fifth overall in 2005.
With that said, the Devils taking Askarov with the seventh pick would be questionable a choice. It’s not a talent issue with him, but there’s a lot of risk drafting a goalie in the first round. Some pan out (Andrei Vasilevskiy, Price), and some don’t (Jack Campbell, Al Montoya). Plenty of goalies taken later in the later rounds (Connor Hellebuyck, Braden Holtby) end up becoming high-end starters too.
The Devils also have Mackenzie Blackwood, who has a .916 save percentage (SV%) in 75 NHL games. He’s only 23 years old and should only get better moving forward. Is it possible Askarov will be better than him? No doubt about it, but it’s not a guarantee. And if Blackwood ends up being a .918-.919 SV% goalie down the road, Askarov may not end up being that much better. Instead, the Devils should look to take a forward like Lucas Raymond or Marco Rossi at seventh overall.
Could the Devils Chase Sergachev?
On the latest edition of the 31 Thoughts Podcast (about 51 minutes in), Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned the Devils could target Sergachev to improve their defense if he becomes available. He’s been in the NHL for three years and is emerging as one of the league’s top young defensemen.
Friedman doesn’t believe the Devils will trade the seventh overall pick. But they do own two other first-round picks, at 18th and 20th overall. It’ll likely take one of those, if not both, and a couple of prospects to acquire Sergachev.
Related: Devils Need to Target DeBrusk
Sergachev is only 22 years old and has a goals above replacement (GAR) of 21.2 over his three NHL seasons. That ranks 38th in the league among NHL defensemen, and he has plenty of room for growth. If the right pieces fall into place, he’s the exact type of blueliner the Devils need to improve their defense.
It’s also worth mentioning Friedman expects the Devils to be very active this offseason. They have $26 million in cap space to go along with their multiple first-round picks. They aren’t likely to go on a spending spree in free agency, but they could make some moves when the market opens on Oct. 9.
Updating Devils’ Prospects Playing in Russia
Earlier in the week, the Devils loaned Mikhail Maltsev to SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL. Maltsev, who’s a 22-year-old center, played in 49 games for the Binghamton Devils (AHL) last season and finished with 21 points. He’s played in two games for SKA St. Petersburg so far but has yet to record a point.
Yegor Sharangovich, who’s on loan to Dinamo Minsk (KHL), has four goals and six points in 10 games. He had 25 points in 57 games with Binghamton last season and could be in the fold to land a role as a bottom-six forward for the Devils.
Arseni Gritsyuk had made Avangard Omsk’s KHL roster at the start of the season, but he never played in a game. They’ve since loaned him to Omskie Yastreby in the MHL, which is in the Russian junior league, where he has four points in four games. If he continues his strong play, he could earn a promotion to the VHL — the second division in Russia — somewhere down the road.
With the draft about 72 hours away and free agency beginning less than a week from now, activity should begin picking up over the next few days. Stay tuned to our Devils’ page, as well as our social media platforms, as we’ll have all Devils’ related news, trades, and signings covered. And make sure to keep an eye out for all The Hockey Writers’ 2020 Draft coverage.