Over the last two months of the 2016–2017 NHL season, my beloved New Jersey Devils lost something around 88 of the final 30 or so games they played. Well, at least that’s what it felt like. A stagnant offense, their choking away lead after lead, and a perpetual failure to produce anything resembling competitive hockey in overtime was an agonizing spectacle to behold week after week. Were they in tank mode? Probably not, but their win production during that stretch was under 4% nonetheless.
So entering this weekend’s NHL draft, Jersey’s own perennial (as of late) basement-dwellers found themselves in an unusual position—likely favorites in something. In this case it was with odds that they’d land the number one overall pick. And as the night progressed, so did their chances, and eventually they secured the first selection after a series of lottery drawings.
So what does this mean for the Devils? While number one picks almost always play in the NHL the next season, unfortunately this 2017 class lacks a generational-type player, like the Ovechkins, Crosbys, Halls, or McDavids of more recent drafts. Still, they always need forwards, and it’s looking more and more likely that they will scoop up either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier, who are easily the top two prospects this year, and are very, very good hockey boys.
It will be fun to follow along in the days leading up to the June 23rd draft, and to see if Ray Shero keeps the overall number one pick (he absolutely should), or dangles it out there as trade bait to try and land a marquee player to support the current squad (an astoundingly terrible idea). Don’t do us dirty, Ray.