It was a busy two days for New Jersey at the annual NHL draft in Buffalo. A total of 9 players–7 forwards, 1 defenseman, and 1 goaltender–were picked, along with a trade on Saturday afternoon that provided the parent club with some depth. Let’s meet the Class of 2016:
1st Round, 12th Overall: Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)
After swapping places with Ottawa, giving the Senators the #11 slot and also picking up an additional third round selection, New Jersey chose McLeod, an 18 year old forward who just completed his second full season with the Steelheads, picking up 61 points (21 G, 40 A) in 57 games. He also represented Canada in the World Junior Championships, scoring twice in 7 games.
2nd Round, 41st Overall: Nathan Bastian, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
New Jersey didn’t go very far for their second selection…they chose McLeod’s linemate (and self proclaimed social advisor). Bastian also just completed his second full season with the Steelheads, scoring 19 goals and assisting on 40 others in 64 games.
3rd Round, 73rd Overall: Joseph Anderson, RW, USNTDP
With their first choice in round 3, the Devils chose Anderson, who just finished his third season with the US National Team Development Program. In 25 games, he scored 10 goals and assisted on 10 others. He will be starting his collegiate career with Minnesota-Duluth in 2016-17.
New Jersey would then trade the 77th pick to Pittsburgh for restricted free agent forward Beau Bennett.
3rd Round, 80th Overall: Brandon Gignac, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Seven picks later, the Devils chose Gignac, who had a breakout third season with the Cataractes. In 67 games, he scored a career high 24 goals and dished out 37 assists. He also picked up 16 points in 20 playoff games (7 goals, 9 assists).
4th Round, 102nd Overall: Mikhail Maltsev, LW, Team Russia U18
Going outside North America for this one, the Devils chose Maltsev, who was on loan to Team Russia’s under 18 squad for the 2015-16 season. In 29 games, the 18-year-old scored 11 goals and assisted on 12 others.
4th Round, 105th Overall: Evan Cormier, G, Saginaw (OHL)
Three picks after Maltsev, New Jersey picks a goaltender (cue groaning from the Devil fanbase). Cormier just finished his second season with the Spirit, where he appeared in 58 games and went 21-27-7 with a 3.72 GAA and .890 save percentage.
5th Round, 132nd Overall: Yegor Rykov, D, SKA St. Petersburg 2
New Jersey’s first defense selection of the draft, Rykov is a 19 year old who split last season between three different SKA St. Petersburg teams. He is slated to join the SKA KHL squad for 2016-17.
6th Round, 162nd Overall: Jesper Bratt, LW/RW, AIK (Sweden-2)
The third European of the day to be drafted by the Devils, Bratt (who won’t turn 18 until July 30th) picked up 8 goals in 48 games with AIK, playing in Sweden’s second tier. He also represented the Swedes during the World Junior Championships, scoring twice in seven appearances.
7th Round, 192nd Overall: Jeremy Davies, D, Bloomington (USHL)
With the final selection, New Jersey chose Davies, a 19 year old Quebec native who just finished his second season with the Thunder. In 60 games, he scored 13 goals and assisted on 36 others, leading all league defensemen in points. He is committed to Northeastern University.
(Note: click on each name to check out full reports/reaction by All About the Jersey)
With the draft now completed, a few things to look forward to over the next week:
On Monday, qualifying offers are due to restricted free agents. Then Friday at noon, free agency officially begins. Stay tuned for my monthly trackers, and also for the annual AHL Big Board that will be out soon.