We have reached the month of July. Before the craziness of free agency begins at the end of this week, there was one more piece of business to take care of: the 2013 NHL Draft, held at the Prudential Center. I tried to obtain a free ticket to the event, but not surprisingly I ended up home on the couch as the first round got underway Sunday afternoon. At the beginning of the day, New Jersey had a total of four picks: 1st round, 9th overall; 2nd round, 39th overall; 4th round, 100th overall; and 6th round, 160th overall. There was a lot of speculation as to who the Devils would pick at #9, maybe a forward that could provide some sorely needed offense? A few names were tossed around. But then, this happened:
Instead of picking at #9, the Devils pulled off a deal that seemingly came out of nowhere, trading the pick to Vancouver for goaltender Cory Schneider. While many cheered at first, I’m sitting at home with my jaw to the floor, in “Did that just happen?” mode. Of course the initial reaction was, what another goalie? But then, I started to think about it…obviously Marty will not be around forever, and with Schneider you have someone that not only can take over the #1 job once Marty finally does leave, but it gives the goaltending here and in the ECHL more time to develop and eventually compete for that #2 role in New Jersey. But at the moment only two goalies are technically under contract: Scott Wedgewood and Maxime Clermont. Jeff Frazee and Keith Kinkaid are both in the restricted free agent category, which more than likely means they stick around, but as of now it’s not official yet.
Of course, there was more draft to go after the big trade splash took place. Time to meet the newest members of the Devils organization:
2nd Round, #42 overall: Steve Santini, Defenseman, USNTDP
After swapping the #39 pick with the Coyotes for #42 and #73 in the third round, the Devils used the second round pick on Santini, an 18-year-old defenseman out of Mahopac, NY. He spent 2012-13 with the U.S. National Development Program, where in 66 games he posted no goals and 15 assists. He also represented the U.S. at the World Juniors, posting no points in 7 games. He’s off to Boston College in the fall, a school that has its share of alumni in the organization (Stephen Gionta, Joe Whitney to name a few).
3rd Round, #73 overall: Ryan Kujawinski, Center, Kingston (OHL)
With the second pick acquired from the Coyotes, the Devils used it to select Kujawinski, who spent all of last season with Kingston. Not bad offensive stats, with 48 points (17 goals, 31 assists) in 66 games. Good size, but there was a question about consistency.
4th Round, #100 overall: Miles Wood, Forward, Noble & Greenough (MA)
An interesting selection at #100 in Wood, a prep school forward and Buffalo native. The 17-year-old (will not turn 18 until September) posted 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 15 games. He’s off to Brown University in the fall, and depending on the ECAC and AHL schedule, I may have a chance to check him out when they play RPI or Union. You can follow him on Twitter at @MilesWood28.*
6th Round, #160 overall: Myles Bell, Left Wing, Kelowna (WHL)
For the Devils last (at the time) pick of the draft, they chose an overage prospect in Bell, a teammate of 2012 draftee (and 3 game A-Devil) Damon Severson. He converted from a defenseman to a forward at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, and it paid off with a huge offensive year. He posted 93 points (38 goals, 55 assists) in 69 games, with an astounding +46 rating. He would likely be the first of the draftees to make an appearance in an Albany uniform due to his age (he will turn 20 in August). He’s on Twitter at @my_ohs29*.
Just when everyone thought the Devils were done for the day, something awesome happened.
Round 7, #208 overall: Anthony Brodeur, Goaltender, Shattuck St. Mary’s (MN)
As the seventh round progressed, the Devils made a swap with Los Angeles, snagging the Kings’ 7th round selection for a 7th rounder in 2015. And it was only fitting that proud dad Martin was the one to make the official announcement. The younger Brodeur is no slouch in goal, however, starring for a well known prep school powerhouse at Shattuck St. Mary’s, a team that has seen many of its alumni go to the NHL. He’s off to Gatineau of the QMJHL next season. For those who have wanted to see a Brodeur on the Times Union Center ice…you may get your wish in a few years time. You can find him on Twitter at @abrodeur30.*
(Note: clicking on the names will take you to the In Lou We Trust or Elite Prospects pages.)
*As the saying goes, for now.
Now that the draft is over with, the next step is the free agent list. Per Fire and Ice, all A-Devil restricted free agents received their qualifying offers, except for forward J.S. Berube, who is now an unrestricted free agent. The move was not surprising to me, with the little playing time he received (1 goal and 1 assist in 10 games, but 5 goals and 6 assists in 13 in Trenton) after returning from a training camp injury.
Friday afternoon the free agency signing period will officially begin, but due to me being away for the Fourth of July holiday I will post the first Free Agent Tracker at some point Saturday morning. As I have done the last two summers, there will be updates at the beginning of August and September.