The first step to our mock draft is to establish the list of players that will be available for the Las Vegas franchise to draft. To do this, we decided to have a blogger from each team represent their own franchise and select the players that will be protected from the Mock Expansion Draft available player pool. To see the rules which were followed to protect players, hit this link.
Next up, we have the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are being represented by Will Agathis from PucksAndPitchforks.com.
- G – Cory Schneider
- G – Mackenzie Blackwood
- F – Pavel Zacha
- F – John Quenneville
- F – Adam Henrique
- F – Kyle Palmieri
- F – Jacob Josefson
- F – Travis Zajac
- F – Joseph Blandisi
- D – Andy Greene
- D – Adam Larsson
- D – Damon Severson
Analysis from PucksAndPitchforks.com:
At first, I started with the first protection package (one goaltender, nine forwards, five defensemen), but ultimately changed my mind. With the first option, I did not struggle with any of the selections. The Devils don’t have more than nine desirable forwards who would be stolen from New Jersey by 2017-2018. The team is about to have another top-10 pick under their belt, which will make them a tad more dangerous on offense, but in the meantime this is what we, as Devils fans, are looking at. The defense, likewise, is devoid of significant talent after the first five.
But then I thought about the roster a little more. In two years from now, franchise goalie Cory Schneider will be 31. The Devils just spent a high second-round pick on MacKenzie Blackwood and he is supposed to be a high-level talent – and was considered by most to be the top netminder available in the 2015 NHL Draft. Since I have been tasked with predicting his development, I am going to take the optimistic route and say that the 2015 second-round pick will be looking like a great pick by the time June 2017 rolls around.
That said, I went with the two-goalie plan, which complicated matters. Obviously, Pavel Zacha and John Quenneville are a big part of the Devils’ future on offense so they will stay. Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, and Jacob Josefson are all talented forwards who will be entering their prime by summer 2017. The final two spots go to Travis Zajac – who I think is due to have a comeback campaign in 2015-16 and continue his strong play into 2017 – and former Russian defect Sergey Kalinin, who is an intriguing 24-year old project who has a nose for classic Devils hockey.
On defense, the choices were also pretty simple. Andy Greene is the Devils captain and best skater. Adam Larsson is a former top-five pick whose recent play has led to fans likening his development to that of Victor Hedman. Finally, I protected Damon Severson, the Devils’ most intriguing young defenseman. As a rearguard, he has shown maturity, but it is with his offensive creativity that he has piqued my interest. Potentially losing Jon Merrill and Steve Santini could sting, but at the end of the day the former is replaceable while the latter is unproven.
Maybe my hopes for Blackwood are farfetched, but if he turns into a high-end talent like I expect, keeping him in New Jersey will be imperative to the Devils’ long-run success.
The entire list of unprotected players that will be available for Team Lane and Team Pothier to select from can be found here.
To see more team explanations just like this one, check out The Sin Bin Mock Expansion Draft Landing Page.