The Devils made nine picks at the 2016 NHL Draft and the outcome was all about offense.
New Jersey used six of its nine picks on forwards, selecting centers Michael McLeod (12th), Brandon Gignac (80); left wings Mikhail Maltsev (102) and Jesper Bratt (162); and right wings Nathan Bastian (41) and Joseph Anderson.
Goaltender Evan Cormier and defensemen Yegor Rykov and Jeremy Davies rounded out New Jersey's Draft Class of 2016.
The Devils also acquired forward Beau Bennett from Pittsburgh in exchange for the 77th overall pick.
Devils' Director of Amateur Scouting Paul Castron provided a closer look at the club's new additions:
First, your thoughts on what the team accomplished this weekend.
We’re pretty excited. Now the hard work starts for the kids. Development camp will be coming up in a couple of weeks, so we look forward to seeing them all in New Jersey.
How much were forwards a priority?
It’s just the way the list panned out. We had a lot of forwards on our list. We can’t control what other teams pick. If we were looking at a D, sometimes he got taken just before we picked and the next player on our list was a forward, we’re going with the list.
What do you like about selecting Mississauga linemates Michael McLeod (12th overall) and Nathan Bastian (41st overall)?
They actually played a lot together this year. I think the plan next year [in the OHL] is for them to both play center, so they might not see the ice together, maybe just on the power play. Both big kids, both skilled kids [who] really compete hard. Good upside for both those kids.
How much did their close friendship factor in?
None at all.
Can that relationship be helpful for two young players breaking into a new organization together?
I’m sure it can be. We were close to getting another one of their buddies with a later pick, but he went just before we picked. I’m sure it can’t hurt.
How about the addition of Saginaw (OHL) goaltender Evan Cormier?
Evan’s got a lot of upside. He’s a big goalie. Scott Clemmensen, our goalie development coach, saw him play quite a bit and we leaned on him a little bit for his advice on that pick.
What’s the breakdown of the two Russians you added?
One’s a big forward (Mikhail Maltsev) with a lot of hockey sense and skill. [Yegor Rykov] is a good-sized defenseman who played in the world juniors. He’s a real solid, two-way D.
What do you see in Swedish selection Jesper Bratt?
A very, highly-skilled speedy forward. Very high-end skill level, just not tall. But he’s a stocky kid.
Overall what’s your feeling on this year’s picks?
Well, today we’re happy. Now, like I said, the hard work starts. Everybody starts from zero, doesn’t matter what round you were picked in. Some guys are going to make it who were picked later than others – it depends how bad they want it.