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Shero finishes up first draft with Devils, taking a goaltender, 2 forwards and a defenceman

NHL.com @NHL

NEWARK, N.J. - Hours after finishing his first draft with the New Jersey Devils, general manager Ray Shero has already turned his attention toward free agency next week.

The Devils don't have a lot of money for the major free agents, but Shero says the team has already made some decisions.

Right wing Steve Bernier, centre Scott Gomez, defencemen Mark Fraser and Peter Harrold are not in the team's plans for next season and their agents have been informed to look elsewhere, Shero said Saturday.

The decision came after the Devils took goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, centre Blake Speers, defenceman Colton White and left wing Brett Seney with picks in the second, third, fourth and sixth rounds, respectively.

The Devils made moves for the more immediate future on Friday, drafting centre Pavel Zacha with the No. 6 pick overall and acquiring right wing Kyle Palmieri in a trade with Anaheim for two draft picks.

Zacha is the big two-way centre who has shown he can score. The question is will the 18-year-old be ready for the NHL next season.

The 24-year-old Palmieri will be in the lineup next season. He had 14 goals in 57 games with the Ducks and he fits Shero's vision of a more uptempo team.

"He is the right age, he has good NHL experience for a young player," Shero said in a telephone interview from Sunrise, Fla. after the draft ended. "He has speed. He has a physical nature to his game and he's strong."

While Palmieri will be entering the final year of his contract, the Devils will keep his rights for at least three seasons.

Blackwood was ranked the top North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting. The 6-foot-4 Canadian posted a 33-14-2 record with Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League, posting two shutouts with a 3.09 goals-against averagea and .906 save percentage.

Speers had 24 goals and 43 assists with Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL last season.

White was Speers' teammates at Speers at Sault Ste. Marie. The defensive defenceman had six goals, 16 assists and was plus 38 in 67 games.

Seney had 11 goals and 15 assists in his freshman year at Merrimack College in Massachusetts.

Shero wants the Devils to get younger and his play in free agency might be to wait until the initial frenzy ends and then try to sign players who fit the system.

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