The New Jersey Devils had to wait hours to make the team’s first pick of day. But, general manager Tom Fitzgerald did not disappoint. He started off by selecting a goalie which was highly rated by many. He ended the day by selecting three forwards and one defenseman. Fitzgerald even made a trade as he sent the team’s seventh round pick this year to Arizona for a seventh round pick next year. For more on the prospects mentioned above, please see below.
For grades on the Devils’ first-round draft picks click here.
Round 3 – 84th Overall: Nico Daws
Nico Daws is 19-year old German netminder. He has great size as he is listed at six-foot-four and 203 pounds. Below you can see where some around the industry had Daws ranked:
- Elite Prospects: 60th
- Dobber Prospects: 63rd
- TSN’s Bob McKenzie: 64th
- TSN’s Craig Button: 75th
- Future Considerations: 78th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 88th
- NHL Central Scouting (North American Goalie Rankings): 1st
As you can see, for the position Daws was taken, this pick was of great value. Several had Nico Daws ranked as the second-best overall goaltender in this class. He should be regarded as the Devils’ top goaltending prospect in the team’s system.
A deeper dive into Daws’ statistics show why so many were high on him. He led the entire OHL in save percentage with a .924. This is especially impressive given how offensive the OHL is as a league. As for his skill set, it seems as if Daws relies on his athleticism to position himself well in the crease and challenge shooters. His six-foot-four size also contributes to a lot of his success.
My only concern with Daws is the fact last year was his breakout season. So much so, he was voted the most improved player. Before his .924 save percentage season he posted .880 in 14 games during the 2017-18 season and .893 in 20 games during the 2018-19 season. Daws also lost his starting job in the 2020 World Junior Championships after a disappointing performance in round-robin play.
Final Thoughts: Grade A-
Nonetheless, Daws is a great addition to a Devils team that desperately needs it. This upcoming season in the OHL is going to be huge for Daws as he is sure to show everyone last season was not a fluke. He will also most likely be Canada’s starting goalie in the 2021 World Junior Championships. Great value for general manager Tom Fitzgerald.
Round 4 – 99th Overall: Jaromir Pytlik
Jaromir Pytlik is a 19-year old center from the Czech Republic. He has solid size at six-foot-three and 201 pounds. He currently plays for the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL, after spending most of his career in the Czech hockey league system. You can find where some in the industry had Pytlik ranked below:
- Future Considerations: 36th
- TSN’s Bob McKenzie: 74th
- Dobber Prospects: 90th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 96th
- NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters): 46th
Like Daws, Pytlik has solid value at 99th overall. In 56 games for Soo last season, Pytlik tallied 22 goals and 28 assists as well as a plus-five rating. He started the season extremely hot, cooled off throughout the middle parts of the season, and turned it on again to add the year. This was an improvement on his 19 points in 26 games a season prior.
As for his attributes, he is described by many as a full 200-foot player. Specifically regarded for his skating, puck control, and defensive awareness. He should have no issues developing into a bottom-six, two-way penalty-killing center.
Final Thoughts: Grade B+
Pytlik was a very safe pick in this spot. You know what you are getting when drafting him. This ultimately means he does not have all that high of a ceiling which is fine. Especially given his floor. Another pick with solid value for general manager Tom Fitzgerald
Round 4 – 120th Overall: Ethan Edwards
The college-bound defenseman Ethan Edwards is a bit undersized. As he is listed at five-foot-ten and 178 pounds. The 18-year old is a left-handed defenseman. He spent his whole junior career in the Canadian system before recently committing to play college hockey at the University of Michigan. Below are where some around the industry had Edwards ranked pre-draft:
- Dobber Prospects: 61st
- Elite Prospects: 63rd
- Future Considerations: 97th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 122nd
- NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters): 77th
The theme of the day for the Devils at this point yesterday was simple, value. Like new teammates Daws and Pytlik this was another pick with a ton of it. Edwards has played in the Alberta Junior Hockey League for the large majority of the past two seasons. Interestingly enough, his playstyle did not match his point totals in this league (only 34 points in 60 games). But, make no mistake about it, Edwards is a puck-moving defenseman who has a solid offensive ability.
Edwards is praised for his excellent skating – his speed, mobility, and agility are all solid. He has a solid shot and is also a good passer. His puck handling is another area where he excels. Defensively, he has good positioning and uses his skating and puck skills to clear the zone. For a fourth-round pick, Edwards is an all-around talent.
The knock-on Edwards comes down to two aspects. His size, where he can sometimes be bullied by bigger opponents and, his offensive output in the AJHL is not what it should be for a guy regarded for his offense. Each should certainly be approved when he attends the University of Michigan.
Final Thoughts: Grade A
At 120th overall the Devils got extreme value for a guy that would have gone much, much earlier if it was not for his size. I am a believer that size is overrated when evaluating prospects. Especially given Edwards has the skill set needed to combat that size issue in good positioning and stellar skating.
Another reason why I enjoyed this pick is because of the lack of this type of prospect in the Devils’ system. Recently New Jersey has stockpiled tougher, defensive defenseman rather than get puck-movers and offensive-minded guys. It is a nice change of pace.
Round 5 – 130th Overall: Artem Shlaine
The 18-year old center is from Russia but has played his whole junior career in the United States. He is left-handed and has decent size at six-foot-one and 174 pounds. Below are where some in the industry had Shlaine ranked pre-draft:
- Elite Prospects: 112th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 174th
- Future Considerations: 224th
- NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters): 93rd
At 130th overall, it seems around the area where a prospect like Shlaine was expected to be taken. He spent the past two seasons playing for Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota where he tallied 168 points over 102 games. He is scheduled to attend the University of Connecticut where he will continue to work on his game.
Overall Shlaine projects out to be a playmaking center, as he reportedly is an elite passer. He is also a very smart player which helps him in the neutral zone and defensively. He will be a force on the power play thanks to these abilities. His goal-scoring ability will need to be improved but once again it seems like a good pick for New Jersey.
Final Thoughts: Grade B-
Round 6 – 161st Overall: Benjamin Bumgartner
The New Jersey Devils’ did ultimately end up with an undersized Austrian center. However, it was in the form of five-foot-nine, 176-pound Benjamin Bumgartner. The 20-year-old is left-handed and played in Switzerland’s top professional league. A couple pre-draft rankings from those around the industry are below:
- Elite Prospects: 126th
- Future Considerations: 279th
- NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters): 80th
Bumgartner had a terrific season last year in Switzerland’s top professional league. He tallied 27 points in only 37 games while contributing a plus-seven rating. To put in context, teammate and the much older Mattias Tedenby had 37 points in 48 games. It was a great season for Bumgartner to say the least.
Another impressive statistical performance occurred in the 2020 World Junior Championships. In the promotion league (Division I), Bumgartner led the tournament in points with 11 in only 5 games. Austria did not lose a game and was promoted to the top division for the 2021 tournament. Worth noting, this was only one point away from setting the tournament’s all-time scoring record.
His skill set is interesting. He is an extremely reliable defensive player that has decent offensive upside. As you can see in his NLA production as a 19-year old. He is a superb passer and has tremendous puck skills. His vision also contributes to his solid playmaking abilities. He does it well on both ends of the ice.
Final Thoughts: Grade B+
General manager Tom Fitzgerald ended the draft with another safe pick. Bumgartner’s production in the NLA as well as his explosion at the 2020 World Junior Championships excites. He was certainly worth the flyer, because if not for his size he would have been picked much earlier. Can this be the next Devils’ “Jesper Bratt” pick?
Conclusion: Overall Grade A-
Just like that the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is over. The Devils started with nine picks and made eight (traded the team’s seventh round pick to Arizona for a seventh-round pick next year). For the most part, the team drafted for value, after going needs-based at seventh overall in selecting Alexander Holtz.
Dawson Mercer was a steal at 18th, but I think the Devils were reaching by taking Shakir Mukhamadullin at 20th. However, the Devils nailed day two with tremendous value picks in Daws, Edwards, and Bumgartner (someone who may be another late-round gem). Overall, it was a very successful first draft for general manager Tom Fitzgerald.
Below you can find my personal opinions on the 2020 New Jersey Devils’ draft class as a whole:
Favorite Pick: Dawson Mercer
Least Favorite Pick: Shakir Mukhamadullin
Highest Upside Pick: Nico Daws