August 32-in-32 : New Jersey Devils

Hadi Kalakeche

2022-08-18

The 32-in-32 Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in August 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 September, 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!

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Well, we’re here again. Despite adding the likes of Dougie Hamilton, Yegor Sharangovich, Tomas Tatar, Dawson Mercer, and Andreas Johnsson to their roster over the past two seasons — either through rookie graduation or via free agency and trades — the New Jersey Devils still ended the year with a 27-46-9 record, finishing 28th in the final league standings.

With yet another season in the trenches comes a fun little perk, though — the Devils managed to win the lottery and secure the second-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. After the Canadiens shook up the top of the board by taking Juraj Slafkovsky first-overall, the prospect the Devils were likely coveting was the first to come off the board, leaving them with the choice of either taking a center that they don’t have the space for in their top six, or filling a need by selecting one of the promising young blue-liners scheduled to go in the top-five. And so, right-handed anchor Simon Nemec ended up being the choice of the Devils’ brass, leaving Logan Cooley and Shane Wright to the Arizona Coyotes and the Seattle Kraken respectively.

There were some moves to make after that, however, in order to begin the upwards trajectory that usually comes after spending the past five years accumulating high-end picks such as Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Alexander Holtz, and Luke Hughes. The Devils started day two of the draft by trading their 37th and 70th picks to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Vitek Vanecek and the 46th-overall selection. Trading back nine spots and giving away an early third-rounder for a young netminder who will offer quality starts to back up Mackenzie Blackwood is a win in my opinion, especially given the way the three selections involved went down — we’ll get back to that in a second.

Then, following the draft, the team also acquired Erik Haula from the Bruins, giving away a plateauing RFA Pavel Zacha in return. Soon after, John Marino was traded to New Jersey from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Ty Smith and a 2023 third-rounder, setting the table for their top-four D core from the bat.

There are more off-season moves to talk about, but first let’s review the Devils’ selections in the 2022 NHL Draft.

The Draft

As mentioned before, Simon Nemec was the prospect the Devils felt was worth the second-overall pick, and they were comfortable trading down nine spots in the second round and giving away their early third-rounder to secure Vanecek from the Capitals. This left the team with a respectable eight picks in the draft, three of which were in the fourth round. We’ll review all of them down below.

Round One, 2nd Overall —