After Day One of the NHL Draft, there were no surprise moves from GM Ray Shero – yet. With six rounds (and nine picks for the Devils) left today and free agent ‘interviews’ starting at midnight this morning, there should be more to talk about after today’s six rounds. Which will probably take as long as yesterday’s first round that proved to be more like an old-school NFL draft despite a supposed three-minute timer on every pick, it seemed as if each pick took ten minutes more or less by the end of the first round. Thank goodness the Devils had already picked by then.
As far as the pick, the Devils traded down one spot from 11 to get an extra third-rounder from the Senators. Then they drafted OHL center Michael McLeod, not a consensus top twelve pick but certainly not far removed from it either. McLeod certainly fits what Shero and coach John Hynes are trying to build though…fast skaters that will work hard. McLeod projects as a two-way player who can be a true center and win faceoffs. Although some might cringe at a Travis Zajac comparison, if this kid can eventually be prime-level Zajac with more speed it would still be a worthy pick.
Of course the Internet being what the Internet is there was immediately a lot of moaning and groaning about how we missed out on the top ten, we should tank to get a worse pick next time, how we didn’t get a difference maker offensively and McLeod was the ‘safe’ pick the cynics used to mock in the final years of Lou Lamoriello and David Conte. Well honestly are all these kids going to project out the way we think they will? The top ends of the draft are littered with what could have beens and never weres every year, but also sprinked in with supposed safe picks that busted out. Even picking a so-called high end guy is no guarantee of success.
This draft and our fans’ reaction to it is precisely why I don’t get too attached to mocks and following prospects in any sport. You almost can’t help it with the NFL to a degree cause it’s everywhere but I don’t want to have preconceived notions or wants in case teams go off the board and blow up the predictions. Every mock draft in the universe had Clayton Keller falling to us at 11, but when the actual draft happened Keller went a few picks before to Arizona. For all we know we start the second round picking a offensive upside guy and suddenly the picture seems to look a lot better.
If there is one thing I do want out of the second day (besides more fowards and LH defensemen) it’s that we don’t use all of the nine picks remaining. That would just feel like getting stuck holding the bag Boston Celtic-style, unable to turn pick capital into more immediate help. Although I’m not Nail Yakupov’s biggest fan, if you could somehow get him for a third-rounder and maybe throw in a fourth for good measure (we have three third-rounders and two fourths) I’d take that chance in a minute. Or even just using our excess picks to trade up and snag someone we really want as opposed to just hoping the board goes our way. I also hope we don’t make a rash trade of Damon Severson, about whom the trade whispers are getting louder in recent days. With leading UFA defensemen Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski both off the market it’ll become really hard to immediately fill the hole trading Severson would create in FA. Even with Severson this team already has a hole in the top four, trading him really would make our d-unit the big two and a lot of meh question marks.