Category Archives: NHL Draft Prospects

A Look Ahead at the 2013 NHL Draft

Official 2013 NHL Draft LogoAs I’m sure you’ve all heard, the New Jersey Devils will be hosting the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30. What does this mean for the New Jersey Devils and the New Jersey area? What is different about this year’s draft? Who’s projected to be drafted first, and who will the Devils draft? Let’s take a look, shall we?

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Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!

Stefan MatteauDon’t worry it’s not ’94 all over again, this Matteau is playing for the New Jersey Devils! Stefan Matteau, the Devils’ first pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft, has finally made his way up to the NHL. You might remember his father, former New York Ranger, Stéphane Matteau, for his double overtime goal against the Devils in game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. But, let’s focus on the young Matteau.

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Research and DEVILopment

School is almost back in session as summer vacation draws to a close. This is no different for the National Hockey League.

Starting up is the return of the Research, Development and Orientation camp which will be used to test potential changes to the game. Changes that will be tested will include very subtle, almost unnoticed, changes, to the more, “Oh my gosh, did the barber use a weed-whacker on your hair?” changes.

If you ever wanted to know how today’s game would be played if they didn’t have the Brodeur Rule (that little trapezoid behind the net), this is exactly what they will be testing at the camp.

The NHL will have the two past Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year) winners– Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma and Phoenix’s Dave Tippett — serving as mentors for the young prospects. Not only will the camp serve as a testing ground for potential rule changes, but the camp will also allow teams to take a look at possible 2012 prospects. In total, 36 prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft will be participating in the camp.

Now, I know you’re thinking to yourself, “What kind of rule changes could they possibly be testing?” Let me ease your mind.

1) Trapezoid Rule – The rule was introduced post-lockout as a way to increase scoring. The rule limits goaltenders from leaving the crease to go play a puck in the corners. As a Devils fan, I absolutely detest the rule. Martin Brodeur is noted as one of the greatest puck-handling goalies of all-time. He would always come out of the crease, play the puck in the corner, and lunge it down ice to a streaking player. However, with the trapezoid rule, Brodeur is restricted into staying in his little blue zone in front of the net. Many teams favor this rule because they have very, poor puck-handling goaltenders. The trapezoid limits player movement on the ice, which is not what the game is about. Players should be able to skate and play the puck wherever they want. I won’t even get into the fact that goalies can’t skate over the red-line.

2) No Icing While Shorthanded – While it seems like a good idea to allow shorthanded teams to just heave a puck down the ice since they’re down one or two players, it’s really not. Hockey is supposed to be a game of skill and action. Shooting a puck down ice to clear time off the penalty kill is BORING. What’s being tested at the RDO camp is that the team actually has to play defense. If teams want to be able to dump it into the opposing zone, they must take it past the red-line and dump, just like a regular shift. This will showcase a team’s strong/weak defense since they will actually have to gain possession of the puck and carry it out. Many are mixed on this rule as the NHL gave powerplay teams a sizeable advantage a couple of years ago, when they stated that at the start of a powerplay, the faceoff will be in the offensive zone.

3) Overtime Variations – Every day, I hear people complaining about the shooutout at the end of overtime, and how you would never see a baseball game end in a home run derby, or basketball end in a slam dunk contest. People complain that the shootout takes away that special edge from penalty shots. Hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I, personally, enjoy shootouts. Always have, always will. But let’s try this on for size, shall we. What if there’s a tie after regulation and teams play FOUR minutes of 4-on-4 hockey. No one scores, still tied. Instead of going to a shootout right away, it would be a THREE minute period of 3-on-3 hockey. I would LOVE to see 3-on-3 hockey. There wouldn’t be clusters of players on the ice, wide-open range to skate and set up plays. The league wants to see fast-paced action and high scoring, 3-on-3 is an awesome addition to OT. If no one scores after the 3-on-3, it would go to a shootout. Also, the league is testing out the possibility of switching ends at the end of regulation. For example, third period a team is shooting left to right, that team would shoot right to left in OT. The league is partial to increasing the time of overtime, that way there might be less shootouts to end the game.

Those are a few of the major changes that the league will be looking into. There are a couple minor things, such as:  referees wearing wireless headsets to relay information to each other during a game, and the “bear hug rule.” The bear hug rule, introduced by Brian Burke, would allow players to wrap their arms around an opposing player to take him into the boards as opposed to violently throwing him into the boards, thus reducing injury.

Which rule changes would you like to see implemented into the game? Leave a comment with your favorite rule change, or add a suggestion of your own!

Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevinlankey

And the New Jersey Devils select… Adam Larsson!

New Jersey Devils NHL Draft Party 2011What a roller coaster year this has been for us Devils fans. First with the terrible start to the season. Then an uplifting second half with high hopes to get back in the playoff race. Finding, that despite our team never giving up, those hopes are just slightly out of reach. And finally, winning the draft pick lottery, and rising in the ranks to the number 4 spot! For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, the hockey gods blessed us against the odds.

Whatever deities we pleased, apparently were still smiling upon us on June 24th. There was no doubt that the Devils Army was hoping we would snatch up Adam Larsson. The fans packed Lafayette Street along side the Prudential Center to celebrate draft day and those fans who were working checked their phones feverishly for updates. The crowd went through a similar roller coaster of emotions when the teams finally started making their picks – moments of silence followed by cheering and sighs of relief when Adam Larsson was not selected. Our turn finally came, and lo and behold the best puck moving defenseman in the draft was still up for grabs! Everyone exploded with excitement, we got Larsson!

I couldn’t have been more excited that Adam Larsson would be joining us in New Jersey! Reported to be one of the top skaters in the European leagues, and coming in at a solid 6′ 3″ and 220 lbs, he is physically ready and able to join the pros. With his puck moving and smart decision making skills, he has the potential to fill what many feel is a much needed vacancy in our defensive line-up.

I am looking forward to this season getting underway so I can check out his playing style! If he’s anything like our other Swedish players (especially our little fire cracker, Tedenby), I have a feeling I’m going to like what I see!

What was YOUR reaction to our draft day excitement?

2011 NHL Draft Prospect Preview: Gabriel Landeskog

LandeskogThree of the Devils’ last four first round picks have been forwards from Sweden. So if Director of Scouting David Conte calls Stockholm native Gabriel Landeskog to the stage on June 24, one may be tempted to expect more of the same. However, Landeskog is a much different player than his countrymen, and actually fits the profile of a typical Canadian or American player.

Landeskog began his hockey career with Djurgårdens IF, the same club where current Devils prospects Jacob Josefson and Alexander Urbom got their starts. But after just two seasons, he left Sweden for the Ontario Hockey League and has played for the Kitchener Rangers ever since. As a result, the 6’0, 201 lb right-winger will go into this year’s draft as a North American player, and is second to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, not Adam Larsson, in Central Scouting’s final rankings.

The Devils are already very well stocked up front, but Landeskog has some unique qualities to his game that may allow him to climb up the depth chart fairly quickly. He is a skilled offensive player, but loves to play an aggressive and physical game. In 53 regular season contests with Kitchener, he scored 36 goals and 30 assists for 66 points while racking up 61 penalty minutes and three fighting majors in the process.

Landeskog had a strong showing in the playoffs as well. Although the Rangers were unable to get past the first round, he recorded six goals and four assists in a series that went to seven games. He was also selected to Sweden’s World Junior team this past winter, and was named an alternate captain, but played only one game due to a high-ankle sprain. He did, however, tally a goal and an assist in that game.

In the intangibles department, Landeskog has it all. He is a natural leader who can spark his team with his strong work ethic and intensity. He is also very well spoken, without a hint of an accent, and makes his presence known on the bench and in the locker room. Often compared to former Kitchener Ranger and current Philadelphia Flyers’ captain Mike Richards, he was handed the “C” as a 17-year-old, and could find himself wearing a letter early on in his professional career.

By all aspects, Landeskog is the most NHL-ready prospect in this year’s draft. He already possesses the build, maturity, and talent to play in the NHL. If he does land in New Jersey, it’s certainly possible that he’ll be on the Devils’ opening night roster. He may start out on the third or fourth line, but he could compliment scoring wingers such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise on the top two lines in the future.

Regular Season Playoffs
SEASON TEAM Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 DIF SEL 3 0 1 1 2 2
2009-10 KR OHL
61 24 22 46 51 0 20 8 15 23 18
2010-11 KR
OHL
53 36 30 66 61 27 7 6 4 10 4

2011 NHL Entry Draft Party at The Rock

NHL Draft Party 2011It’s that time of year. The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is just around the corner and with the New Jersey Devils having 4th pick, it’s going to be a pretty exciting one to watch! Every year the Prudential Center hosts an NHL Draft party for the fans to come in and watch the picks live. There are games and activities for the little kids and a chance for the big kids to get their hands on some hockey equipment. Think Fan Fest, but better! You should also keep an eye out for a few Devils Alumni.

The first round of the draft starts at 7PM at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our party starts at 5PM and will be held outside on Mulberry Street as well as inside the Amerihealth Pavilion at the Prudential Center on the night of the draft, Friday, June 24th. Head over to NewJerseyDevils.com to get your free tickets (check over on the right hand side).

In the meantime, check out a couple of the top prospects, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson. Who do you think we should aim for?

See you on draft day!

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