The New Jersey Devils secured a first-round second pick in the 2021 NHL Draft by sending Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the New York Islanders days before the trade deadline. It was a deal that worked for everyone. Palmieri played a key role in the Islanders’ race to the semi-finals, and Zajac added a veteran presence to the last six who could come in and out of roster at any time. The Devils ate half of Zajac and Palmieri’s wages, and really had only a choice in the matter.
It’s not the strongest draft, but as the scouting process has continued, there is actually very good value at the end of the 1st round. There are players who could grow into something great. Some are latecomers with interesting skills, while others have yet to reach that peak, but the tools are there.
When it comes to attackers, there are names that are rising on the draft boards. Fabian Lysell was once made fun of in the 20s, but now he’s more likely to go between 15 and 19. Too many teams talk about his potential to let him slip too far. Mason MacTavish has soared on the NHL draft tables and could now be a Top 10 pick. Two goalies are expected to make the top 20, marking the first time that two goalies have been drafted in the first round since the 2012 NHL Draft.
There’s a lot going on here, but with so many changes at the last second, it’s going to cause teams to miss players who should have been drafted higher. This is where the Devils come in. They should be able to have a really good player at 29 who might need a year or two of seasoning. These five players would be great additions to the Devils’ prospect pool if they fell to them at 29.