New Jersey Devils Draft Recap

The New Jersey Devils left the 2019 Entry Draft a much-improved hockey team in both the immediate future and the long-term future.

When all was said and done, general manager Ray Shero was able to add 11 prospects to their pipeline, including a franchise center, a number of young defensemen, and he even managed upgrade the immediate blueline with a blockbuster trade.

Devils Get Their Future Star

Jack Hughes Devils Draft
Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

It all started on Friday night when the Devils used the first-overall pick to select Jack Hughes, the top-rated prospect in the entire draft. If all pans out, Hughes can be a franchise-altering prospect, especially when added to a forward core that already includes Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and the first-overall pick from 2017, Nico Hischier.

Not only is Hughes a player the Devils can build around long term, but he’s a generational talent that makes the team significantly better right now.

Devils Headline Day Two by Acquiring P.K. Subban

P.K. Subban New Jersey Devils for Steven Santini Jeremy Davies Nashville Predators

The Devils were supposed to pick 34th overall to kick things off in the second round, but moments before the start of day two, it was announced that New Jersey acquired the Norris Trophy-winning, All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban, in exchange for Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies, and two second-round picks (the 34th overall selection in 2019 and a second-round pick in 2020).

Despite a mediocre 2018-19 season, Subban is still one of the top defensemen in the league and he provides the Devils with an immediate boost on the blueline. While the Devils had to cough up a valuable trade chip with key players on the board during the 34th selection, it was a price worth paying.

The right side of the Devils defense now lines up with Subban, Sami Vatanen, and Damon Severson.

Devils Acquire John Hayden From Chicago

John Hayden Blackhawks
The Devils acquired John Hayden from the Blackhawks. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

Moments after the blockbuster Subban trade, the Devils made a minor move, sending fallout prospect John Quenneville to the Chicago Blackhawks for John Hayden.

Hayden, 24, was originally drafted in the third round back in 2013. In 54 games with the Blackhawks last season, Hayden recorded five points (three goals, two assists).

The trade will give both Hayden and Quenneville a fresh start in a new organization.

Devils Trade Back to Secure 11 Picks

In addition to the Hayden trade, the Devils moved back a number of times to secure more late-round picks. When Shero was done wheeling and dealing, the Devils ended up with one second-round pick, three third-round picks, two fourth-round picks, two fifth-round picks, one sixth-round pick, and one seventh-round pick in addition to the first-overall pick.

Nikita Okhotyuk of the Ottawa 67's
Nikita Okhotyuk of the Ottawa 67’s (CHL Images)

They used their lone second-round pick to select defenseman Nikita Okhotyuk 61st overall.

Okhotyuk is a big, strong defender who plays for the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL. He’s not much of a goal scorer or a puck-rushing defenseman, but the Devils already have a plethora of those in their system. Instead, Okhotyuk is more of a shutdown defenseman like Santini, who the Devils dealt earlier in round two.

The Devils used the 70th overall pick to select a similar caliber defenseman to Okhotyuk in Daniil Misyul.

Misyul is a tall, offensive-minded defenseman who has somewhat been flying under the radar. He is a smooth and agile skater, especially for his size (6-foot-3), which correlates to him constantly joining the rush. He spent most of the season in the MHL playing for Loko Yaroslav where he recorded four goals and six assists in 46 games. He was called up to the KHL for the last three games of the season and made enough of an impression on the KHL coaching staff to earn plenty of ice time and a role on the penalty kill in their six playoff games to close out the season. Similar to many of the European players drafted, the Belarus native will likely stick back in Russia to develop before coming over to the NHL.

The Devils used their other third-round picks to select forward Graeme Clark of the Ottawa 67s (80th overall) and another defenseman Michael Vukojevic of the Kitchener Rangers (82nd overall).

Clark is a legitimate scoring threat armed with a quick release and an accurate shot. Vukojevic is another big defenseman who thrived in a shutdown role.

To Devils went on to make six more selections:

Fourth round (96th overall) – C Tyce Thompson, Providence College (NCAA)

Fourth round (118th overall) – D Case McCarthy, USNTDP

Fifth round (127th overall) – G Cole Brady, Janesville Jets (NAHL)

Fifth round (129th overall) – C Arseni Gritsyuk, Omskie Yastreby (MHL)

Sixth round (158th overall) – RW Patrick Moynihan, USNTDP

Seventh round (189th overall) – RW Nikola Pasic, Linkoping HC J20 (SuperElit)

The next stop for the Devils is free agency on July 1, which offers them another opportunity to further improve their club.