The New Jersey Devils went with the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in Jack Hughes with their first selection on Friday night. The 18-year old phenom has all the tools to become a star in the NHL, and he’s an incredibly gifted player that can expedite the Devils rebuild.
In addition to the first overall pick, the Devils are armed with nine more selections, including three second-round picks and two third-round choices.
The next selection for the Devils is the third pick in the second round (34th overall). Due to an incredibly deep draft class and a lot of players being selected earlier than projected based on organizational needs, the Devils have a great opportunity to add another talented player to their pipeline.
Here are some players the Devils should target with their 34th overall pick:
Arthur Kaliyev – LW, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
If you were to tell me the 17-year old sniper was going to drop out of the top-15, I would have said, “Ok, maybe.”
If you were to tell me Kaliyev was going to fall out of the first round entirely, I would have said, “You’re absolutely crazy.”
Related: Arthur Kaliyev’s THW Draft Profile
Kaliyev is a pure goalscorer equipped with an extremely accurate wrist shot and a quick release. He’s coming off a year in which he finished with 102 points (51 goals, 51 assists), which was good enough to place him sixth in the OHL in scoring. He’s a speedy winger that always finds himself in the right place at the right time, especially in the offensive zone. He’s one of those rare players who’s a threat to put the puck in the back of the net any time he has the puck on his stick. He would be a steal for the Devils if he’s still available at 34.
Nils Höglander – LW, Rögle BK (SHL)
The 18-year old Swede is coming off a 14-point season (seven goals, seven assists) in 50 games played with Rögle BK in the Swedish Hockey League, which is pretty impressive considering it is Sweden’s top professional league.
Höglander has an impressive combination of great hands, above-average speed and precision playmaking skills. What sets him apart is his hockey IQ and his ability to make smart decisions and high percentage plays at full speed. He was originally projected to go mid-to-late in the first round, but if he’s still on the board at 34, the Devils should take a good hard look at drafting him.
Bobby Brink – RW, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
Bobby Brink is one of the most underrated prospects in this draft class. The 17-year old native of Minnesota had a breakout sophomore season in the USHL, recording 68 points (35 goals, 33 assists) in 43 regular season games for Sioux City. His impressive season earned him a spot on Team USA’s roster for the U18 IIHF World Championship, where he tallied three goals and six points in five tournament games.
Related: Bobby Brink’s THW Prospect Profile
The University of Denver commit has an impressive skill set that includes quick hands, quick foot speed and great vision. He has a knack for finding the back of the net and is always dangerous with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone.
If he properly develops, he has the tools to become a top-six winger in the NHL. I would be surprised if he was available at 34, and if he is, the Devils should snag him up.
In a Devils mock draft, I had the Devils using this pick to select Tobias Björnfot, but he ended up going way earlier and getting drafted 22nd overall by the Los Angeles Kings.
While I really like Björnfot’s game, I’m surprised he went before Kaliyev, Höglander, and Brink. Either way, I would be happy if the Devils ended up with either of them.
The second round kicks off today at 1:00 P.M ET on the NHL Network.
“Do everything you need to do to keep the passion alive and never forget that it is a privilege to do what you love” – Martin Brodeur