That is quite a huge claim from hockey analysts, considering the wealth of talent that skated into professional arenas around North America. Out of the 292 athletes who were chosen in Nashville that June, 130 have been on the ice for at least one NHL game, which is pretty impressive in itself.
However, the stats get better and better. 11 of those players have their name etched on the Stanley Cup, and eight currently wear the captain’s ‘C’ or have held it at some point. 19 members from the class of 2003 have already taken part in 500 or more games.
The Devils had the 22nd pick that summer after just winning their third cup, but traded up to 17th in the hopes of grabbing one-time captain Zach Parise. Parise came into the draft highly touted as a standout from North Dakota University. Many, including himself, thought that he would have been scooped up in the top-10 which just goes to show the depth of that draft.
With Parise moving on from the Garden State to his hometown with the Minnesota Wild, the 2013 Draft is a big one for the Devils, who find themselves on the verge of the dreaded rebuilding phase.
Typically, the organization has prided itself on developing talent from within. Yet, if last season’s disastrous implosion is any indication of the talent base coming up, the team is in trouble. Even with past picks like Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson in the lineup, the team was unable to find the back on the net through most of the second half of the lockout-shortened campaign.
The coaching staff also seems to be mishandling the last two first-round picks, Adam Larrson and Stefan Matteau. Larrson was kept in the stands for many contests last year, damaging his development and his confidence.
Sure, he’s young and he’s going to make mistakes, but that is how he is going to grow. The club kept Matteau past the first five games, costing the organization a year off of his entry-level contract. Yet, in March, they sent him back to his junior club anyway.
After not making the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, the Devils hold this year’s ninth pick. They also have picks in the second, fourth and sixth rounds. In total, there will be seven rounds of drafting at the Prudential Center, all of which will be held on June 30.
The fact that the Devils will be forfeiting next year’s first-round pick as a penalty for the Ilya Kovlachuk free agent fiasco in the summer of 2010 makes this summer’s draft even more important. With many to pick from, it will be interesting to see who the organization will tap as this year’s no. 1.