The New Jersey Devils already have four Ottawa 67’s prospects in the franchise’s prospect pipeline, three of which they drafted and one acquired via trade. Whenever the 2020 NHL Draft happens they should have their eyes on another pair of 67s.
There is still much to be figured out as far as the lottery goes and conditional draft picks changing hands, but the Devils could have as many as three first-round picks whenever Draft Day finally gets here.
Who They Have
Currently, New Jersey owns the rights to forwards Mitchell Hoelscher and Graeme Clarke, and defensemen Nikita Okhotyuk and Kevin Bahl. Both defenders are left-handed shots, 19-year-olds, and have signed their entry-level contracts. Hoelscher (20-years-old) is coming off of a career year after putting up 76 points for Ottawa and Clarke (19-years-old) had 17 points in 16 games during an injury-plagued season.
Clarke was a third-round pick (2019), Hoelscher was a sixth-round pick (2018), Okhotyuk was a second-rounder (2019), and Bahl was also a second-rounder (2018). Bahl was acquired by the Devils this past season as part of the Taylor Hall trade that also netted them one of their three, first-round picks.
All four should be a part of the future plans in New Jersey and they might be expecting some other familiar faces to join them after the conclusion of the 2020 NHL Draft.
Who They Should Target
In my colleague Larry Fisher’s mock drafts he has two Ottawa 67’s as top-10 selections. No one knows all of these potential draft picks inside and out better than Fisher. No one should know the 67’s better than the Devils who have been keeping tabs on the four prospects mentioned earlier.
So their scouts are probably salivating at the possibilities that they could nab both Marco Rossi and Jack Quinn in the same draft. Currently, the Arizona Coyotes first-rounder is owned by New Jersey, and if nothing changes standings-wise (or I guess odds-wise) that pick would be tenth overall. Arizona only retains the pick if it becomes a top-three selection. The Devils’ own pick is currently sixth.
Rossi led the entire OHL in scoring this past season and as Fisher says despite his smaller stature he doesn’t play small at all (look at that point total!). Quinn is a right-winger coming off of a 50-goal season and although Fisher has him ranked a bit lower than most, he believes that his high-scoring season has scouts moving him up the draft board.
The other pick the Devils (may) own is Vancouver’s, which was acquired from Tampa Bay in the Blake Coleman trade. The pick only goes to New Jersey if the Canucks make the playoffs this season, whenever that is. If the Canucks don’t make the playoffs then the Devils would own their first-rounder next season.
So there is a lot still to be determined. As of now, Vancouver’s pick would be 17th overall if the standings don’t change, but the Canucks were tied with Nashville for the final wild card in the Western Conference when the NHL and sports world paused.
Rossi had 120 points (39g-81a) in 56 games and Quinn had 89 points (52g-37a) in 62 games for the 67’s. Rossi’s point production nearly doubled from his previous season (65 points), and Quinn nearly tripled his point production (32 points). You can bet every dollar in your pocket that the Devils know those numbers too.
They also likely have inside information from their four prospects as well as the coaching staff in Ottawa, which we have to assume they have on speed dial at this point.
Obviously there is so much to still figure out. Will the season be completed? Will the draft precede the completion of the season/playoffs? Is Tom Fitzgerald still going to be the Devils’ GM?
But one thing is for sure – these are two players that the franchise should have their eyes on once we get to the NHL’s first-ever virtual draft. Especially in a year when teams won’t be able to poke and prod players with questions and tests and things of that ilk. It may be the best choice to just go with the players you scouted extensively, and Quinn and Rossi check those boxes.