The NHL Draft Lottery is over and the New Jersey Devils will pick fourth overall in the 2021 NHL Draft.
The Buffalo Sabres retained the first overall pick by winning the Lottery. The expansion Seattle Kraken will pick second overall and the Anaheim Ducks will pick third. For the Sabres, it will be the second time they have picked first since 2018 when they chose defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.
The Kraken had the same odds to win as the Devils and ended up in second. The Vegas Golden Knights had the same odds as the third-place team in their first Draft Lottery in 2017.
As mentioned by Mike G. Morreale in his article on NHL.com, “only the top two picks were determined by the lottery, and teams were limited in how far they could rise or fall, based on their regular-season standing.”
The Arizona Coyotes had forfeited “their 2021 first-round pick for violating the NHL Combine Testing Policy during the 2019-20 season.” Had Arizona won, the pick would have been re-done.
Picking after the Devils are the Columbus Blue Jackets (fifth), Detroit Red Wings (sixth), San Jose Sharks (seventh), Los Angeles Kings (eighth), Vancouver Canucks (ninth), Ottawa Senators (tenth), Chicago Blackhawks (eleventh), Calgary Flames (twelfth), Philadelphia Flyers (thirteenth), Dallas Stars (fourteenth) and the New York Rangers (fifthteenth).
From there, picks 16 through 31 (the Coyotes do not have a pick) will be determined by how the playoff teams finish.
For what it’s worth, Morreale himself, in his ranking of top ten forwards had center Kent Johnson of the University of Michigan projected to go fourth. He called him “[a]n offensive sniper who plays with pace, skill and creativity. He is 18-years-old, six-feet, one-inches tall and weighs 167-pounds. He “led first-time NHL Draft-eligible NCAA players in assists, points and points per game (1.04).”
As for defensemen, Morreale has Brandt Clarke (the younger brother of Graeme Clarke – a Devils’ forward prospect) of the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League going fourth overall. Morreale wrote: “Clarke … is a mobile, puck-moving right-handed shot considered to be an excellent passer and playmaker with great vision. The 18-year-old scored 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) and was a plus-6 in 26 games on loan with Nove Zamsky in the Slovak Extraliga, the top professional league in Slovakia. He scored seven points (two goals, five assists) in seven games for first-place Canada at the U-18 World Championship.”
As for goaltenders, Morreale has Aleksei Kolosov of Minsk ranked number four. Morreale says: “Kolosov (6-1, 185) was 3-5-1 with a 2,69 GAA, a .911 save percentage and one shutout in nine games in the Kontinental Hockey League, where he is expected to play next season. The 19-year-old also had a 2.23 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 12 games for Molodechno in the Belarusian Extraleague, the top professional league in his native Belarus. He has a 4.12 GAA and an .893 save percentage in three games for Belarus at the 2021 IIHF World Championship.
So that those are some of the prospects projected as the fourth best at their position. Obviously, three goalies are not going prior to the Devils picking, so this is not a perfect correlation. Fourth is a good spot to be picking in this draft, not too high that you could potentially screw it up, as Buffalo is now faced with. Instead, the Devils will have a good choice of the top prospects that could definitely pan out.
The 2021 NHL Draft will take place July 23 to 24.