This weekend came the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida, and after some trading around (including landing Kyle Palmieri from Anaheim in a deal on Friday evening), New Jersey had a total of 5 draft selections. With a new regime in place so to speak and with some clear needs to rebuild the depth in the organization, this is a good start: 1 goaltender, 1 defenseman and 3 forwards. Time to meet the Class of 2015:
(Note: clicking on the name will take you to their In Lou We Trust profile)
1st Round, 6th Overall: Pavel Zacha, F, Sarnia (OHL)
In what appears to be somewhat of a gamble, New Jersey chooses Zacha, an 18 year old Czech forward who just completed his first North American season with Sarnia. In 37 games with the Sting he put up 34 points (16 G, 18 A), and he also represented the Czech Republic in both the U18 and U20 World Junior Championships, scoring 6 goals in 10 games. And…you have to get behind a guy who learned English by watching Dumb and Dumber.
2nd Round, 42nd Overall: Mackenzie Blackwood, G, Barrie (OHL)
Time to start rebuilding the goalie depth, and it begins with Blackwood, a 18-year-old Ontario native who has spent the last two seasons with Barrie of the OHL. In 2014-15 he posted a 33-14-2 record in 51 games, with a 3.09 GAA and a .906 save percentage. He also recently received an invite to Canada’s U20 World Jr. camp.
3rd Round, 67th overall: Blake Speers, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Also in rebuild mode, the forward depth. Adding to that is Speers, another 18 year old Ontario native who just finished his second season with the Greyhounds. In 57 games in 2014-15, he put up 67 points (24 goals, 43 assists) and an additional 9 points in 14 playoff games.
4th Round, 97th Overall: Colton White, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
What’s a New Jersey draft without a defenseman? And the Devils start with White, another Ontario native who, in his second season with the Greyhounds, put up 22 points (6 G, 16 A) and a +38 in 67 games, and also appeared in 14 playoff games with 2 assists.
6th Round, 157th Overall: Brett Seney, LW, Merrimack (Hockey East)
With their final pick, the Devils chose Seney, a 19 year old native of Ontario (I’m detecting a pattern here with these draft choices) who just completed his freshman season at Merrimack. He put up 26 points (11 G, 15 A) and a +3 rating in 34 games. Not a big guy (he checks in at 5’9″ and just 159 pounds) but what he lacks in size he makes up for with his speed, as Mike from ILWT notes in his draft profile.
With the draft over with, the next focus is on free agency. Monday afternoon is the deadline to tender offers to restricted free agents, and the fun begins Wednesday at noon, as the official signing period gets underway. Also on Wednesday: the first Free Agent Tracker of the summer, so stay tuned.