DRAFT: Devils Exit 2019 Draft Better For Now and The Future
New Jersey added 11 players to their prospect pool, including a potentially franchise-altering center, and addressed an immediate need on defense
VANCOUVER, BC - Have New Jersey Devils fans stopped celebrating yet?
Thousands of them gathered outside the Prudential Center on Friday night to cheer on the first-overall pick, but on Saturday the club gave them more reason to keep the party going. This two-day stretch at the 2019 NHL Draft has left the franchise better for both now and for in the future.
"I think it's just a lot of depth and versatility," said ESPN Draft and Prospects Analyst Chris Peters. "I think that was one of the big things. Obviously, Jack Hughes, everybody knows what he brings to the table but you get guys like Tyce Thompson or Patrick Moynihan and (Nikita) Okhotyuk as well.
"There are so many different variations of players that they were able to get. That's what happens when you have a ton of picks like that. You can add a lot of talent to your prospect pool and you can add some new pieces that are gonna have some elements that you didn't have before."
It all started on Friday night with the Devils taking Jack Hughes first overall. A player who NHL Central Scouting called their best North American Prospect.
"He's a game-changer," said Peters. "I think he's a franchise-changing prospect. When you add him with Nico Hischier, Taylor Hall and now P.K. Subban, you've got a star-studded lineup. He's going to be able to come right in and I think he's an exceptional talent, certainly one of the best players I've had the chance to watch. I don't know if he's going to be in that same class as a Connor McDavid or an Auston Matthews, but I think he brings the same value and could very well change the fortunes of the organization and get them back on top. There's so much skill and so much entertainment in his game that people are going to want to pay to see this kid for years and years to come and I can't wait to watch him."
Hughes makes the Devils better both now and later. A young piece to build around. And as Peters mentioned, Subban is going to join him in red and black. The Norris Trophy-winning, All-Star defenseman was acquired in a trade just before the start of day two of the draft, in exchange for Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies and two second-round picks.
"Those are two good days for us…" said Shero. "Really great days for us and our franchise."
Subban is one of the elite defensemen in the NHL, and he appears all-in on helping New Jersey turn around its fortunes.
"You know the deal, I'm a Devil," he said excitedly in an Instagram message to fans. "Let's go, it's on!"
"On the ice, he's a competitor and he wants to win," said Shero. "I love the fact that he has not won a cup yet, he's hungry for that and so are we."
The Devils did have to give up the valuable 34th-overall pick as part of the swap with Nashville, but with all the other players they picked up and Subban's potential impact, it was a price more than worth paying.
"He's obviously, a tremendous player and one of the best defensemen in the league so we knew we had to address that part of the organization and I think we did a big thing bringing in an elite player like P.K." said Devils Director of Amateur Scouting Paul Castron.
After moving the 34th pick, the Devils strategically moved back in the draft to secure an additional pick and bring their total to 11 in the end.
"There was a lot of value left on the board there," said Peters. "I think there were a lot of guys that you could say they could be first round picks in a lot of other drafts. It's just so deep this year. But I thought getting picks to trade back, this was a great year to do that. They had enough picks as it was. You're, obviously, excited about what you're going to get with P.K. Subban and everything else that came with it. They certainly didn't lose any value I didn't think in terms of what they were able to come up with, with the rest of their draft board so a lot of good things there."
Overall, the Devils organization had every reason to swagger off the draft floor with a smile on their faces.
"We're definitely excited for the team, but more importantly we're excited for the fans," said Devils President Hugh Weber. "They have been waiting for this and they deserve this team to get better. We've said over time we have a plan, we're working our plan, we're working hard behind the scenes and I think they're just seeing the fruits of that labor today."
Next stop is free agency on July 1, which is just another opportunity for the Devils to continue building a competitive roster for today and tomorrow.