The Hockey Writers‘ Michael Cambria and Alex Chauvancy’s latest mock draft for the New Jersey Devils at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft as they head into Friday’s first round in Vancouver.
Round 1 – 1st Overall
Michael’s Pick: Jack Hughes, C, USA (NTDP)
The Devils go with the consensus number one overall pick and take the most talented player in the draft. The 18-year old Jack Hughes has the total package of skating, passing, vision and hockey IQ that makes him like a rare mix of Connor McDavid and Patrick Kane all in one player. He has the potential ceiling to be a franchise center and can be one of the faces of the Devils for a long time.
Alex’s Pick: Jack Hughes, C, USA (NTDP)
Hughes’ playmaking, creativity, and skill can’t be matched, and he has the potential to be a franchise player. At 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, he fits the mold of smaller, skilled players who are dominating the NHL. And he still has plenty of room to grow and develop. He’s the best prospect to come around since Auston Matthews in 2016, and it’d be a mistake for the Devils to pass on him.
Round 2- 34th Overall
Michael’s Pick: Tobias Björnfot, D, Djurgardens (Allsvenskan)
A borderline first-rounder who might slip into the early phase of the second round, Tobias Björnfot is a puck-rushing defenseman who has the potential to play in the NHL as early as next season. He is a mature defender who can skate and make smart plays on both ends of the ice.
Alex’s Pick: Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Jakob Pelletier is a diminutive forward, at 5-foot-9, 161 pounds, who has a case to be a first-round pick. He finished 2018-19 with 39 goals and 89 points, ranked seventh in the QMJHL. He has high-end offensive skill and playmaking ability, as well as a good shot. He’d be a great fit for the Devils at pick 34 as they look to add more offense to their system.
Round 2 – 55th Overall
Michael’s Pick: Shane Pinto, RW, Lincoln Stars (USHL)
The Long Island, NY native is a developing center with good size and the type of vision and creativity that can turn him into a top-six forward at the NHL level. He needs to improve on the defensive side of the puck and, with his size, playing a little more physical. He will have plenty of time to do so at the collegiate level since he’s committed to the University of North Dakota.
Alex’s Pick: Nolan Foote, LW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Nolan Foote is the son of former NHL defenseman, Adam Foote. But unlike his father, he plays up front and has a scoring touch, finishing this season with 36 goals and 63 points. He has good size, at 6-foot-3, 187 pounds, and is one of the better power forwards in this class. The Devils’ could use another player of his type in their pipeline.
Round 2 – 61st Overall
Michael’s Pick: Marshall Warren, D, USA (NTDP)
This might be a reach, but Marshall Warren is an excellent skater in transition and can handle the puck very well. He has the tools to develop into a top-four defenseman and will benefit from two-to-three seasons under Jerry York at Boston College.
Alex’s Pick: Anttoni Honka, D, JYP/Jukurit (Liiga)
Anttoni Honka is the first defenseman of Devils’ 2019 Draft Class. At 5-foot-10, 176 pounds, he fits the mold of previous defensemen selected by general manager Ray Shero, such as Ty Smith, Jeremy Davies, and Reilly Walsh. Honka can move the puck and has solid offensive instincts, which is crucial for a defenseman in today’s NHL. He should be able to build on that playing against pros with JYP in the Liiga next season.
Round 3 – 70th Overall
Michael’s Pick: Dustin Wolf, G, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
The 18-year-old Dustin Wolf is a goaltending prospect on the rise. Last season he led the WHL in goals-against average (1.69) and finished second in both save percentage (.936) and shutouts (7). He’s worked under the same goalie coach that developed Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers and took over for Hart as the everyday goalie in Seattle in 2017. He has the ceiling to be a starting goaltender in the NHL and can be the Devils long term solution a few years down the line if Mackenzie Blackwood doesn’t pan out.
Alex’s Pick: Alex Beaucage, RW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
A scoring winger with good size (6-foot-2, 192 pounds), Alex Beaucage has a ton of potential. He finished the season with 39 goals and 79 points in 68 games, ranked 18th in the QMJHL. He needs more time to develop but doesn’t turn 18 until July 25, so there’s no rush for him to play. That makes Beaucage the perfect kind of pick for the Devils with their first third-round choice.
Round 3 – 80th Overall
Michael’s Pick: Domenick Fensore, D, USA (NTDP)
Domenick Fensore is arguably one of, if not the best skaters in the entire draft and his stock has steadily been rising since the mid-way point of his past season. The Boston University commit excels at making smart decisions with and without the puck and has a knack for always creating zone exits with his speed and vision. He plays a lot like current Devil and former NTDP product Will Butcher, and he’s an excellent long-term prospect for any team willing to wait on his development.
Alex’s Pick: Mads Sogaard, G, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Mads Sogaard is a massive human being, at 6-foot-8, 200 pounds. He’s the second-ranked North American goalie in this class, per NHL Central Scouting. He played in 37 games this season, finishing with a .921 save percentage. It’s quite possible Sogaard is gone at this point, but if he’s still available, he’d be a good pick. Goalies take a while to develop, so it can never hurt to have too many in your system.
Round 4 – 96th Overall
Michael’s Pick: Martin Hugo Haš, D, Tappara U20 (Liiga)
Martin Hugo Haš has spent the last two seasons in Finland playing for the Tappara U20 team in the Jr. A SM-L
Alex’s Pick: Ronnie Attard, D, Tri-City Storm (USHL)
He may be a defenseman, but Ronnie Attard put up some gaudy point totals in the USHL. He finished with 30 goals and 64 points in 48 games played, but there is a catch. Attard turned 20 years old in March, so he tore up the league as an over-ager. Still, he’d be a solid choice in the fourth round. He’s 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, which the Devils need on their back end, and he has some offensive ability. And he was the USHL Defenseman of the Year. He’ll be headed to Western Michigan University in the NCAA for 2019-20, so he’ll have plenty of time to develop.
Round 5 – 127th Overall
Michael’s Pick: Xavier Parent, LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Xavier Parent has been sliding down the rankings board as of late due to a poor year with the Halifax Mooseheads, but he still possesses a great skill set and above average mobility as a skater. He needs to improve by controlling the play and having more poise with the puck. If he slides into the fifth round, he’s an interesting prospect to take a gamble on.
Alex’s Pick: Michael Gildon, LW, USA (NTDP)
A prospect who could go anywhere in the draft, Michael Gildon’s rankings are all over the place. He’s ranked 73rd overall by McKeen’s Hockey and as low as 222nd by Future Considerations. That’s a pretty broad range, but I doubt he goes that low. He has good size at 6-foot-2, 194 pounds and can score a bit as he did with USNTDP. He’d be a good pick at this point in the draft for any team, including the Devils. Gildon is committed to Ohio State for 2019-20, where he can round out his game over the next few seasons.
Round 6 – 158th Overall
Michael’s Pick: Nikola Pasic, C, Linköping HC J20 (SuperElit)
Devils Shero has always been fond of Swedish forwards, so enter Nikola Pasic. The 18-year-old winger stands 5-foot-10 like Jesper Bratt and has a nice enough skill set to thrive in tight spaces and create opportunities out of broken down plays. He needs to add some grit to his game and get into the dirty areas more often if he wants a sniff at the NHL level. His talent makes him an intriguing long-term project.
Alex’s Pick: Keean Washkurak, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
We’re at the point in the draft where everything is a crapshoot. The Devils have a couple of Mississauga Steelhead selections in their system, with Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian, so let’s add Keean Washkurak, too. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound center finished with 47 points in 66 games. Shero has a history of taking smaller, skilled players later in the draft (Jesper Bratt, Aarne Talvitie), so Washkurak makes sense, especially since he doesn’t turn 18 until August.
Round 7 – 189th Overall
Michael’s Pick: Matt Brown, LW, Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
The Devils used their final selection in the NHL Draft to bring Matt Brown, a 19-year-old native of Woodridge, NJ back to the Garden State. He continues to put up numbers at every level he plays and is coming off an impressive rookie season in the USHL in which he tallied 57 points in 57 games for the Des Moines Buccaneers. He can be another skilled forward like Kyle Palmieri who thrives in his home state at the NHL level if all pans out.
Alex’s Pick: Kalle Loponen, D, Karpat U20 (SM-Liiga)
Loponen is a smaller defenseman (5-foot-11, 187 pounds), who has some offensive upside. He spent most of the season in the Liiga’s junior system, but he impressed in international competition, finishing with 18 points in 25 games for Finland’s U-18 Team. It’s possible he’s selected earlier, but he’d be a great value pick if still available in the seventh round.