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FEATURE: Devils Stock Prospect Shelves at Draft

With 10 picks in rounds two through seven, the Devils brought in some promising talent

by Peter Robinson / Special to

The Devil(s) in the details and there was plenty of background information of note for New Jersey fans after the NHL club made 10 more selections after picking Jack Hughes first overall.

For instance, Ottawa 67's forward Graeme Clarke, taken 80th with the Devils' fourth selection in the third round, was a teammate of Hughes when both played for the Toronto Marlboros midget squad during the 2016-17 season.

"I didn't even know that but Jack Hughes just told me," said Devils GM Ray Shero of the shared connection. 

Clarke, defenceman Nikita Okhotyuk, taken 61st overall on Saturday, as well as 2016 pick Mitchell Hoelscher, give the Devils three prospects on the 67's roster. 

"They have a great program there," said Shero. 

If that weren't enough, 67's head coach Andre Tourigny was the head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads two years ago when the Devils selected Nico Hischier first overall after the Swiss forward played a season for that QMJHL club. 

Video: DRAFT | Graeme Clarke

"I love the New Jersey Devils more (and) more," tweeted Tourigny on Saturday. 

Clarke began the season with first-round potential but fell to the third round after a season where he scored 23 goals and helped the 67's win the OHL's Eastern Conference title. 

Clarke said he spent a good portion of his season trying to play a more well-rounded game. 

"The second half of the season (I feel like) I rounded out my game," said Clarke. "I was able to play bigger minutes in more of a top-six (forward) role."

Two picks after Clarke, the Devils took Kitchener Rangers defenceman Michael Vukojevic, who plays under former NHL defenceman Jay McKee, who is the head coach in Kitchener. TSN/NBC hockey analyst Bob McKenzie's son, Michael, is the Rangers GM. 

Video: DRAFT | Michael Vukojevic

The Devils took a pair of forwards with their final two selections that offer some intrigue as well. 

Patrick Moynihan, taken 158th in the sixth round, played this season with Hughes on the USNDT. As has been widely reported, that program had an historically successful draft. Moynihan's draft stock may have been indirectly hurt somewhat by playing with so many talented players. The Mills, Mass., native has plenty of room to grow with more ice time this season.

Thirty-one picks later, Swede Nikola Pasic was snapped up by the Devils with their final selection. Taken 189th, his consensus rating among this year's class was around 100. If that rating was at all accurate, being able to get Pasic at No. 189 was a bonus. There was some concern during the season about his consistently but Pasic offensive flair was hard to miss while suiting up for Linköping's junior team. 

While Hughes was on his own in this class by going No. 1, players taken in the later round is where NHL clubs scouting and development staff earn their keep. Starting with Okhotyuk, Shero is confident they have added a collection of 10 prospects who will help up and down the organization in future years. 

Video: DRAFT | Nikita Okhotyuk 1-on-1

"We drafted the right type of people that we want to have," said Shero. "Now we have development coaches to work with them and stay in close contact with them." 

Shero pointed out that for all the toil done by the Devils in finding these players, the real work is now up to the prospects themselves to some day become good pros. 

"We're excited and they should be excited too because there's lots of opportunity. When they come to the development camp in July, they are going to find out a lot about the Devils. A big part of what development camp is about is how we do things and about how NHL players do things.

"They are coming in at a great time in getting drafted by the Devils….we're (going to be) patient, this is about development."

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