Alexander Kerfoot is now an unrestricted free agent. New Jersey’s fifth round pick in the 2012 Draft, 150th overall, declined to sign with the team and will now be free to sign wherever he wants.
The Harvard University center had until today (August 15) to come to a deal with the Devils. He will now join other recent NCAA free agents who refused to sign with the team that drafted them, including Denver’s Will Butcher (who, this year, left the Avalanche and will be an UFA along with Kerfoot) and Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes (who both ended up signing with the Rangers in recent seasons after declining to sign with Nashville and Chicago, respectively).
Some speculation being floated for why he did not choose to put name to paper for the Devils is that he wanted a more clear path to the NHL and the Devils have a log jam at the center position that he would need to get through.
To further that thought, the place most people would have Kerfoot signing would be Vegas. The Golden Knights, being a first year expansion team, would likely give him his best shot at playing in the NHL right away (since most team’s depth charts are already filled up), but time will tell where, exactly, he does end up.
But it also does not seem like the Devils are missing much. Kerfoot is 23 years-old and does not project to be an NHL player for a while, if at all. Ryan Lambert, writing for the Puck Daddy blog, notes that Kerfoot “looks more to me like an AHL guy for a few years at least; teams should look to sign him because he helps the organization, but he’s not making an NHL impact for a while, if ever.” He cites age and the fact that Kerfoot only put up “one NCAA season with a double-digit goal total” as basis for his reasoning.
The Lambert article cautions against overhyping college players. Just because a player was dominant (to an extent in Kerfoot’s case) at the NCAA level does not mean that that talent will necessarily translate to the NHL. Some work out and become good NHL players (like Hayes) while others just do not. Butcher looks like he has more of an upside to him than Kerfoot does at this point in time.
We will have to wait and see if Kefoot does have what it takes to make it at the NHL level, but for now at least, it will not be with the Devils.