Devils Round Out the 2017 Draft with Ten More Picks

Day two of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, rounds two through seven, saw the Devils add ten more prospects to their pool. Let’s get down to looking at who they picked and what sources say about them.

With the 36th pick overall in the second round, the Devils took Swedish center Jesper Boqvist. Boqvist, who is 5-foot, 11-inches tall and 165-pounds, played last season for Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League. He represented Sweden in the 2016 Under-18 World Championship – where they won a silver medal and the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. His profile on says that he had six assists in 16 games for Brynas last year and that he models his game after Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals.

With the 63rd overall pick in the third round (which the Devils acquired from Colorado in the Eric Gelinas trade), New Jersey took Swedish winger Fabian Zetterlund of Farjestad Jr. The 5-foot, 11-inch, 195-pound native of Karlstad, Sweden had two penatly minutes with Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League in 14 games. He played the majority of last season in the Swedish Junior league where he played 40 games and had 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points and 18 penalty minutes.

The Devils’ next pick was 81st overall in the third round (acquired from San Jose when they signed head coach Pete DeBoer). With that, they took Reilly Walsh, a defenseman from Proctor Academy out of New Hampshire. The 5-foot, 11-inch, 184-pound blueliner from Andover, New Hampshire played in four games for the USA at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tourament. According to his profile on, his dad, Mike Walsh, played “in 14 games with the Islanders from 1987-89.” He has also committed to play at Harvard University in 2017-18 and plays his game in the style of Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Devils took Russian left wing Nikita Popugaev with the 98th overall pick in the fourth round. He is 6-foot, 5-inches and 219-pounds and played last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. He had a total of 29 goals and 40 assists for 69 points over 71 games split between those two teams last year in the WHL. The 18-year-old (who turns 19 this November 20) native of Moscow won a gold medal in the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He had three goals in six games played. According to, his favorite player (who he wears number 71 in honor of) is Evgeni Malkin.

Popugaev was one of the few players with a full, detailed scouting report on him online. NHL Central Scouting says of him: he is a “good package of size, skills and smarts – excellent vision with hockey sense to support teammates and make good choices on the play – utilized in all situations and plays the point on the power play at times – unselfish game with the puck – repsponsible two-way game – vision and thought process often a step ahead of teammates – doesn’t like to lose a battle in any situation and plays to win.”

That moved the Devils to the fifth round, where they were scheduled to pick fifth, the 129th overall pick. With that, they took Swiss goaltender Gilles Senn. He is 6-foot, 5-inches tall and weighs 191-pounds. He played last season with HC Davos of the Swiss league where he played 34 games and compiled a 2.64 goals against average and a .910 save percentage in 2000 minutes of ice time.

The Devils had another pick in the fifth round, 143rd overall, via San Jose (the Mirco Mueller trade) and they used it on Slovakian right winger Marian Studenic of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League. In 58 games with the Bulldogs last season, he had 18 goals, 12 assists for 30 points and 23 penalty minutes. He lists SIdney Crosby as his hockey idol on and dreams of “winning the Stanley Cup.” A noble wish for any aspiring hockey player, to be sure.

Moving to the sixth round, the Devils took Aarne Talvitie 160th overall. The 5-foot, 10-inch, 198-pound native of Espoo, Finland played for Blues Jr. last year of the Finnish Junior league. He had 13 goals and 24 assists for 37 points and 36 penalty minutes in 46 games for them last year.

New Jersey took a Canadian for the first time this draft by selecting defenseman Jocktan Chainey 191st overall in the seventh round. He is from Asbestos, Quebec and was a teammate of Nico Hischier on the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With Halifax last year, he had four goals and 20 assists for 24 points and 44 penalty minutes in 55 games skated in.

The Devils’ final two picks came via the Sharks and they used them both on defensemen.

They took Russian d-man Yegor Zaitsev 205th overall in the seventh round. He is a 6-foot, 180-pound native of Moscow who played 19 games for Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League last season. He had 1 assist and ten penalty minutes in those 19 games. He played the bulk of his season with Balashikha of the Russian second tier last year, potting two goals and four assists for six points to go along with 44 penalty minutes in 24 games.

The Devils used their final pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (214th overall in the seventh round) on Rogers, Minnesota-native Matthew Hellickson. He is a 6-foot, 184-pound defenseman out of the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League. He had six goals and 22 assists for 28 points and 30 penalty minutes in 52 games played for Sioux City last year.

Overall, it was a good haul for the Devils. Of course, netting Nico Hischier at first overall skews that quite a bit, but if you can get an NHL player out of any of the lower rung of picks, that will be gravy. Good luck to all of the Devils’ draftees as they set out on the next phase of their hockey careers.

Devils Take Hischier With Top Pick in Draft

The Devils have made their choice for the first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. They went with Nico Hischier, the 6-foot, 1-inch, 178-pound center from the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Swiss-born player becomes the highest ever draft pick from that nation, surpassing Nino Niederreiter – who was taken fifth overall by the Islanders in 2010.

The choice for top pick was down to two players, Hischier and Brandon Wheat Kings center Nolan Patrick (who went second overall to the Philadelphia Flyers, likely the easiest pick in this year’s draft).

According to an article by Mike Morreale on, Devils general manager Ray Shero did not feel the pick was easy, but does think Hischier “is the player New Jersey needs down the middle for the foreseeable future.”

For Hischier’s part, he is excited to be the number one overall pick and to be in New Jersey. He told Morreale “Just hearing my name was just unbelievable; I can’t find words for this. I hugged my mom first and she started to cry. It’s really special to wear this Devils jersey and it looks great. It probably won’t sink in until after I get a good sleep.”

Morreale mentions that Adam Henrique was the only Devil “center to score at least 30 goals in any of the past eight seasons, he scored 30 in 2015-16.” Morreale says that “Hischier’s elite skill and hockey sense, combined with a compete level that allows him to be effective in any style of game, are reasons Shero made the decision to select him.”

One interesting fact that Morreale also gives in his piece is that “HIschier has been mentored by two coaches with NHL experience.” Guy Boucher (most recently of the Ottawa Senators) was his coach with Bern in Switzerland’s top pro league (National League A) and Andre Tourigny (who has spent time as an assistant in the NHL with Colorado and San Jose)coached him in Halifax this past season.

The native of Naters, Switzerland should slot right into the Devils’ lineup this coming season. In last year’s QMJHL season, he won the Michael Bossy Trophy as the Best Professional Prospect and the Michel Bergeron Trophy as the Offensive Rookie of the Year) – this info comes from Morreale’s article.

Morreale’s article mentions that the Halifax program is a good one. The Mooseheads have produced five picks in the top ten of the Draft in the last five years: Nathan MacKinnon (who went first overall to the Colorado Avalanche in 2013), Jonathan Drouin (who went number three overall to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2013), Nikolaj Ehlers (number nine overall to the Winnipeg Jets in 2014) and Timo Meier (number nine to the San Jose Sharks in 2015).

Devils fan reactions seemed to be pretty unanimous in favor of Hischier at the team draft party held tonight in conjunction with the Draft. Unlike with the new jerseys, which have gotten a mixed reaction at best, this one seems like a good choice that fans like.

While there might still be some holdouts who wanted Patrick, most seemed to be fine with Shero and Director of Amateur Scouting Paul Castron’s decision. Of course, in this strange draft year, Patrick is now immediately the enemy by going to Philly.

Hopefully, though, they both have great NHL careers and the best of luck to them as they embark on this part of their hockey lives.

The 2017 NHL Entry Draft continues tomorrow from the United Center in Chicago.