If hiring John Hynes was Ray Shero’s first important move as Devils GM, the first night of the NHL draft showed us Shero’s first moves toward reshaping the roster and stocking the prospect cupboard. With a #6 overall pick, I was obviously hoping the Devils would pick a high-end forward prospect, given how needy we are at forwards at every level. Although the pipedream of Mitch Marner or Dylan Strome getting to us didn’t materialize, the Devils did just fine in my opinion with Pavel Zacha from the Czech Republic. Zacha’s a big boy at 6’3, 210 despite being only 18 years old, who’s already played professionally in the Czech league before going to the OHL and playing with the Sarnia Sting this year. Despite an injury and suspension, he had 18 goals and 34 points in 37 games this year, also showing a bit of an edge with 56 penalty minutes.
Zacha projects as either a big center or a power wing, and an added bonus is the fact Zacha truly seemed like he wanted to come here, even before the draft indicating he felt the interview with the Devils had been the best and that he wanted to come here given our recent history with Czech players like Patrik Elias, Petr Sykora and Marek Zidlicky along with Jaromir Jagr’s stopover. Zacha also indicated he had a picture of him and Elias with the Stanley Cup when Elias brought the Cup home in 2003, and joked now he could get him to autograph the picture.
Despite not having another first-round pick, the Devils’ night wasn’t done. Even though NBCSN inexcusably cut out before the final pick of the first round and thus I had to find out about the Devils’ surprising late-night trade from Twitter. All throughout the offseason I figured the Devils would probably trade one of their high picks for an NHL forward and as it turned out, they apparently dealt their lower second-round pick (41) and a 2016 third-rounder (we had two) for the Ducks’ Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri’s a 24-year old RW who’s a good role player, putting up 14 goals and 29 points in 57 games mostly on lower lines, and would some speed and ability at a controlled cost. For an added bonus, he’s a Jersey kid which will make many fellow locals happy. I say the deal’s apparently done cause in Tom Gulutti’s last tweet he indicated the deal wasn’t officially done yet though speculation is we were also trying to get Matt Beleskey’s rights in the trade. I’d be fine with the trade even without Beleskey’s rights, I wouldn’t want to blow it on something like that when we could just sign him in a few days anyway.
UPDATE: More speculation from TG as to why the trade isn’t official:
Possible hold-up on trade becoming official is Palmieri is not in N. America and Ducks having trouble reaching him to tell him of trade.
Hopefully this trade goes through one way or another. Assuming it does I’d say Mr. Shero had a pretty good first night.