Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Devils
The 31-in-31 Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in November we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s Draft, and insights into their off-season movements thus far. Following this up in December, we will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check back often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs all off-season long!
As the New Jersey Devils approached the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, with three first-rounders in their left pocket and a gaping hole in their right where goal-scoring should be, the focus was obvious: get wingers for Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier.
Wingers who can rip the puck, and keep up with their pace – and if you’re lucky, a top-pair defenseman. Given the depth of the Draft class, we were blessed with this year, the odds of the Devils picking up future essential team pieces in the first round were high.
The Devils had accumulated those first-round picks through trading essential pieces of their organization during the 2019-2020 season in Hall and Coleman, stripping their team of what little goal-scoring it had left. There was talk of adding key roster pieces by trading one of those picks, but the Devils hung on to their 7th, 18th, and 20th overall picks in order to select right-wingers Alexander Holtz and Dawson Mercer, and defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin, respectively. Two scoring wingers who can keep the pace: check.
In Mukhamadullin, the team gets a big, mobile defenseman who activates from the defensive zone efficiently to drive offense – we will circle back to his game further below.
The Russian defenseman was expected to hear his name in the forties according to most rankings, which made this pick confusing. Teams choosing “their guy” and sticking to him was a recurring theme in this first round. Prospects Marco Rossi, Cole Perfetti and Anton Lundell (and later on, Hendrix Lapierre, Connor Zary, Jacob Perreault, and Mavrik Bourque) fell into teams’ laps because teams above them picked the player they wanted or needed, but not the best player available. Yegor Chinakhov better be as good as Columbus seems to think he will be.
The second day of the 2020 NHL Draft seemed to last an eternity; grey hairs grew on the excited prospects’ heads, as they awaited their selections from the comfort of their homes. New Jersey sat out the second round, having traded their pick along with next year’s second-rounder for Nikita Gusev.
When the third round came at the turn of the century, the Devils announced their fourth pick of the Draft, with the 84th overall selection: overage goaltender Nico Daws, from the OHL’s Guelph Storm. They added a couple