With the regular season being postponed, most players should be taking this time in a productive manner. This manner being able to do some light weight workouts including conditioning drills and building upon improvements on their nutritional game. With an agenda like that this would be a great thing for a player like Jack Hughes who has a similar stature to Patrick Kane, but being able to add muscle mass in the upper body to be stronger and tougher on the puck.
Another thing to consider at this time the New Jersey Devils own sixth overall pick could go as high as first and low as ninth. The Devils also have Arizona’s conditional first in 2020, according to CapFriendly. As well, there are conditions which state if Arizona’s 2020 first selection is in the top three, New Jersey will receive Arizona’s first-round pick in 2021.
What that means is if that pick appears in the top-three, it will be transferred to the 2021 Draft. However, if that were the case, whether it be Tom Fitzgerald as the full time GM or someone else, that pick will likely be used to be in a player trade to bolster the blue-line, trading for a prime time sniper on the top-six. The other idea would be to trade the 2021 first back into the second and third rounds of the NHL Draft.
If the pick from Arizona does stay out of the top-three, there is a plethora of players to choose from. One of my favourites after 1-9 in the 10-15 range is Noel Gunler from Sweden. He is an October birthday at age 18. He is a right-handed shot who can score both at the SHL and the Super Elite League. As cited by International Scouting Services, Gunler thinks the game well, has an elite shot and release, adds goal-scoring instincts, likes to shoot the puck and has the ability to find open space and create. (ISS Hockey, 2017)
One of the things the Devils have yet to address is that sniper that could reduce the amount of passes while in the offensive zone, and shoot at will. Nikita Gusev is Sniper-Playmaker, Jack Hughes is a playmaker, Nico Hischier is a playmaker, Kyle Palmieri is a sniper. Getting a Gunler type winger would improve the top-nine forward lines more balanced.
On the other end some people might be screaming for goaltender Yaroslav Askarov. Sure he didn’t have a the showing like he wanted in Ostrava, Czechia, but before that tournament and after, he has posted a 2.45 GAA in 18 games at the VHL in Russia. He does play a very solid game and does play the puck.
Not only does he play the puck but he also gets out of his net diving poke check the puck away on opponents. The one thing lacking in Yaroslav’s game is to improve his glove side because that was his biggest problem on the big stage in the U-20 posting a 2.71 GAA and 0.877 SV%. Anything below his 0.920-0.948 SV% is far below his standards from age 15 near 18-years-old on June 16.
When Andrei Vasilevsky was in his U-18 tournament he had a 0.897 SV% with a 2.65 GAA in five games played. At his second U-18 he posted a 0.936% in six games. He posted a 0.922 in his last U-18 tournament and a 0.953 SV% in his U-20 in 2012 for his draft year.
He gave up no more than 2.01 goals allowed on average. It’s very hard predicting goalies, but Vasilevsky’s draft history should be a benchmark the New Jersey Devils should use after Tampa Bay picked him 19th overall in 2012.
What this means for the Devils picking Askarov is that with picks 5-12 being projected for the Devils first two picks. This is a prime time to pick a goalie ripened with a lot of potential and upside. This makes for a great ideal pick to help a very strong and competitive goalie to play with Mackenzie Blackwood so both players theoretically don’t burnout.
The third pick from Vancouver could also be used in a trade for a ready player at the NHL level where no waiting is involved. However, the team seems they might want to part with the Islanders second rounder from 2021 and a roster player that could improve at the many areas on the depth chart. New Jersey needs to consider bolstering the goalie situation for Blackwood, improving the sniper situation on the wings and adding a lot of defensive stability.
The 2020-2021 team, if all goes accordingly, could and should be a middle of the road team. The emergence of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier during this pause in time will benefit going forward from conditioning to strength on the ice.
The GM searching should be made far before the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft that way the Devils scouts and upper brass can approach who to target and who to avoid after they conduct player interviews likely via Skype with the COVID-19 still going around.