It was a festive atmosphere outside of the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey as the New Jersey Devils hosted the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Many Devils fans as well as hockey enthusiasts from all around North America came out early to enjoy the FanFest activities which were set up on Championship Plaza. A makeshift boardwalk complete with some sand provided a little touch of the Jersey Shore.
Carnival games lined the boards where fans could win some promotional merchandise and be serenaded with tunes from the BStreet Band who provided the backdrop with music by one of the Garden State’s favorite sons, Bruce Springsteen. Fans enjoyed miniature golf along with a street hockey tournament which was hosted by the Devils who sponsor a very popular street hockey league in the state.
Once the atmosphere wound down outside, the event of the day got going on the inside. The Colorado Avalanche had said they would not be taking highly touted defenseman Seth Jones, and they were true to their word. Nathan MacKinnon was chosen first. Jones would have to wait until number four, going to the Nashville Predators.
The many Devils fans in attendance were on pins and needles wondering who would be the first round draft pick of the club. With the team missing the playoffs for the second time in three years, the Devils needed to pick an impact player who could potentially step in and play this season.
Forever the poker player, General Manager Lou Lamoriello pulled off the surprise move of the day when they traded their ninth pick in the first round to the Vancouver Canucks for goaltender Cory Schneider.
The writing has been on the wall for a long time. Future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur is near the end of his illustrious career, and the Devils need to fill in the hole his exit would leave. It does not seem as though there is goaltender in their system who could step into Brodeur’s illustrious pads.
Instead of drafting a goalie for the future, they went for one now. Schneider can certainly step in and split the goaltending duties with Brodeur and be outstanding. The move does leave 40-year-old backup Johan Hedberg‘s future in flux because the team does not need three netminders. Will Hedberg be brought out or used as trade bait? Only time will tell because Devils fans know from experience that Lamoriello never gives away his hand.
Schneider was a first round pick of the Canucks in the 2004 draft. He went 17-9-4 in 30 games for the Canucks last season with a 2.11 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. The 27-year-old Massachusetts native was embroiled in a goalie controversy last year. Clearly, Roberto Luongo is the Canucks’ number one goaltender, and now Schneider is the heir apparent to the winningest goaltender of all-time, Brodeur.
A very interesting and bold move for the Devils who could have picked several quality players instead of snatching a replacement for Brodeur who is ready to step in now. David Conte, the team’s head of scouting said in the Star Ledger that they were looking for an impact player who could start the season and they have him.