As the 2019 NHL Draft approaches, let's take a look back at last year's selections for the New Jersey Devils and how those prospects have progressed in the year since hearing their names called.
ROUND 1, PICK 17 - TY SMITH
The Devils held the 17th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and they used it to select 5-foot-11 Canadian defender Ty Smith.
Shortly after being drafted, Smith made it difficult for the Devils to send him back to juniors. He was one of the last players cut from training camp. Head Coach John Hynes spoke very highly of the 19-year-old blueliner after he made a good first impression on the club.
Smith has an excellent hockey IQ and is very competitive, which are qualities that have contributed to his success this past year playing with the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League.
Video: DRAFT | 1-on-1 with Ryan Kennedy
Smith returned to Spokane, for his third full season with the Chiefs, and was named captain for the 2018-19 season. He recorded seven goals and 62 assists during the regular season, leading WHL defensemen in assists and placing fourth in points, despite only playing 57 games in the regular season. Smith also added one goal and eight assists during the Chiefs' postseason run to the WHL Western Conference Final. He was named the 2019 WHL Defenseman of the Year as well as the 2019 CHL Defenseman of the Year, the first New Jersey Devils draftee to earn the recognition since it began in 1988.
"The playmaking he [Smith] has, the ability he has to quarterback a power play is so vital to the game today," said Ryan Kennedy, Senior Writer of The Hockey News.
Kennedy believes Smith will become a very good NHL player within the next couple of years. He's expected to make the team out of training camp this year and strengthen the backend.
ROUND 4, PICK 110 - XAVIER BERNARD
New Jersey's second pick in the 2018 draft came in the fourth round and the team selected Xavier Bernard 110th overall. The 6-foot-3, 203-pound Quebec native is a large and mobile left-handed defenseman with a strong two-way game. He's got a physical edge and can rip the puck from the point.
Bernard began 2018-19 playing 32 games for the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the QMJHL, recording five goals and 11 assists. Midway through the season, he was traded to the Charlottetown Islanders as both teams addressed needs heading into the playoffs. Bernard posted one goal and eight assists with the Islanders in the last 34 games of the regular season. He also added one assist in six games played during the Islanders run for the 2019 President Cup, in which they lost to the Halifax Mooseheads in the semifinal.
Islanders Head Coach and General Manager Jim Hulton told Prince Edward Island's The Guardian newspaper that Bernard has the ability to "dominate games" once he puts it all together.
ROUND 5, PICK 136 - AKIRA SCHMID
The Devils had two picks in the fifth round and decided to repeat the history of their 2017 NHL Draft by selecting another tall, Swiss goaltender. At 136th overall, New Jersey took 6-foot-5 Akira Schmid of Nasslau, Switzerland.
Until Schmid was drafted, he had spent his entire hockey career in his native Switzerland with the Langnau Tigers youth system. After making the move to North America after the draft, Schmid had brief stints in the WHL and NAHL before finding a home with the Omaha Lancers in the USHL in November 2018.
During the season, Schmid played a career-high 37 games with the Lancers, finishing with a record of 16-16-0 and holding the league's top save percentage of .926, as well as finishing second in the USHL in goals-against average at 2.18. He was awarded the USHL goaltender of the week on February 11, 2019. He also capped off the year with two shutouts and an assist.
ROUND 5, PICK 141 - YEGOR SHARANGOVICH
New Jersey selected Belarusian center Yegor Sharangovich with their second pick of the fifth round. The 21-year-old forward was selected 145th overall after impressive performances in the Kontinental Hockey League and at the Under-20 international level.
After being drafted, Sharangovich signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Devils on July 19, 2018. He spent the last year in the states learning English and transitioning to North American professional hockey playing with the Binghamton Devils of the AHL. He played 68 games for Binghamton, recording nine goals and eight assists.
ROUND 6, PICK 172 - MITCHELL HOELSCHER
Not many sixth-round picks had as good of a season as Mitchell Hoelscher's 2018-19 campaign.
With the Ottawa 67's of the OHL, he experienced a career year in both regular and postseason play. Hoelscher played 68 games in the regular season, recording 10 goals and 30 assists. In the playoffs, Ottawa 67's head coach Andre Tourigny believed Hoelscher had been the team's best player during their run. He played 18 games in the playoffs, scoring six goals and adding seven assists before his team lost to Guelph Storm in the OHL championship.
ROUND 7, PICK 203 - EETU PAKKILA
Eetu Pakkila was selected by New Jersey 203rd overall. The 19 year-old from Oulu, Finland is a sizable leftwinger primarily known as a goal-scorer with a tremendous wrist shot.
He had an excellent season with Kärpät in the Finnish Under-20 league. In 52 games played, he scored 38 goals and tallied 22 assists.