Ray Shero recently did an interview with NHL.com’s Deputy Managing Editor Adam Kimelman in an article that also appeared on the Devils’ official website, with the essence being boiled down to one blunt point.
“We need more talent. That’s what we’re looking for” he told Kimelman. With the current playoff drought the Devils have been suffering through and the fact that, as Kimelman pointed out, the Devils were 30th in the league in scoring last year, scoring talent is very much needed.
Kimelman said that the Devils averaged only 2.22 goals per game “and have ranked 27th or lower in that category in four straight seasons.” Jaromir Jagr is the only player to have at least 60 points (in 2013-14) in that span and only Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri had 30 or more goals (both achieved that feat this past season).
But, as Shero told Kimelman, the Devils are not averse to taking the best player available at the 11th overall pick, despite the need for scoring. If the best player available is more defensive oriented, then they will take him, in other words.
He compared it to last year’s draft when, after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, it was kind of a wild scramble as to the amount of good players available. “(F)rom three to 10 a strong group of players. Those teams might have had them in different orders” he told Kimelman.
Kimelman also suggests that the Devils, with their plethora of picks, could trade up. Or, as he says, they could “move back and acquire more picks, but that comes with risk.” Shero used the example of the 2003 draft when Anaheim took Corey Perry at the 28th pick. Dallas traded down to get two second rounders, the Ducks traded up to get Perry. As Shero put it “Anaheim had traded up and the other team got two second-round picks, but those players were not Corey Perry.”
He continued: “So while in that day you’re feeling good about the assets you accumulated, but what you don’t know is they just got a franchise player.”
Kimelman also mentioned that when Shero was GM of the Penguins, from 2006 to 2013, he “took a number of defensemen early” but this “was more a reflection of which players were available when the Penguins were picking, not a strategy” according to Shero.
Shero cites Pavel Zacha as the type of player he would like to draft, but notes that if someone like Noah Hanifin (drafted just ahead of Zacha by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2015) were available, they would take him in a heartbeat.
Basically, while Shero knows the Devils have a need for scoring, he feels that taking the most talented player available when they are on the clock is what is most important.
Again, we will see what the Devils take when they are on the clock. The team has needs to address, but who is available at the time of their pick will play a huge role in who becomes the newest New Jersey Devil. Everything will come into focus as the Draft kicks off on Friday at 7 PM ET.