Just 12 months after selecting Swiss superstar in the making Nico Hischier first overall and making a whopping 11 selection overall at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils are reportedly changing gears this offseason and moving forward with a different strategy for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
In an invertiew with NHL.com’s Mike Morreale, Devils general manager Ray Shero admitted that his team’s first round pick (17th overall) is in play ahead of the entry draft.
“If you’re going to move up, great, but what’s the cost to move up?” Shero said. “Hey, we’d love to move down and get more assets, but you’re never going to know that until you’re on the draft floor and it’s coming to your pick.”
The Devils, of course, qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season for the first time in six seasons, thanks in large part to an incredible 10-4-1 in their final 15 regular season games. Hart Trophy candidate Taylor Hall was an absolute revelation for the team down the stretch and, indeed, throughout the season. The 26 year old Hall put up a career best 39 goals and 93 points in 76 games, besting his previous high in points by a whopping 13 points. Not bad. Not bad at all.
With Hall playing at an elite level and youngsters like the aforementioned Hischier, Jesper Bratt and defenseman Will Butcher having breakout rookie campaigns in 2017-18, the future looks bright in New Jersey for the first time in a long time. If depth contributors like Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac and Brian Boyle have bounce back campaigns and goaltender Corey Schneider regains his All-Star form, the Devils could cement themselves as a perennial playoff team over the next few seasons.
For what it’s worth, Shero seems sold on his team’s future based on what he has seen the past 12 months. “There were a lot of positives from last season but there’s always going to be change to your roster whether you win the Stanley Cup or not,” Shero said. “We obviously want to be in position to sign Taylor Hall a year from now and that contract would kick in (2020-21), the same season Hischier becomes a restricted free agent. So we have to be careful what we’re doing beyond two years.”