Westcott Clarifies Devils’ Draft Picks

With the Qualifying Round largely done, we know that the Islanders, Coyotes, Canadiens, Blackhawks and Canucks will be moving on to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Only the Maple Leafs-Blue Jackets play-in series remains to be finalized as well as the seeding for most of the teams that already qualified for the playoffs.

Because of that, there was some hashing out of just where the Devils’ Draft picks, acquired in trades with conditions, would be.

Enter Chris Westcott, who posted to the “Inside the Devils Blog” today to clarify where the Devils stand.

Westcott said that the Devils have three first-round picks in 2020. These include their own, Arizona’s first-round pick (the Coyotes defeated the Predators to advance to play the Avalanche in the first round of what will be just Taylor Hall’s second trip to the playoffs) as a part of the Taylor Hall trade and Vancouver’s first-round pick via Tampa Bay (the Blake Coleman deal). The Canucks ousted the Wild to move on.

Now, of course, Westcott does mention that if Hall re-signs with Arizona or the Yotes somehow upset Colorado in the first-round of the playoffs, the Devils would get “a 2021 second-rounder instead of a third. But if both of these things transpire, the Devils would receive a first-round pick in 2021” from the Coyotes.

He also talks about the Sami Vatanen deal where, if Vatanen plays in 70-percent of the Hurricanes’ playoff games, New Jersey “will get a 2020 third instead of a fourth-round pick.”

Westcott said that if the Draft were today, the Devils would have the seventh (their pick), eighteenth and twentieth picks in the first-round. The Arizona and Vancouver picks will likely change as the playoffs move on and teams get “reseeded” in the Draft order.

Westcott says that, essentially, we, as Devils fans, should be rooting for Vatanen and Arizona.

If Vatanen can stay healthy, that pick condition should be met no problem. The Hurricanes probably like what they see and see Vatanen as a good weapon, especially on the power play.

The Taylor Hall thing is where it gets less likely that we get what we want. Hall wants stability above all else. Sure, if the Yotes get him his first ever playoff series win, he would be more apt to re-sign there. The problem is the GM situation. John Chayka is gone, leaving them with an interim general manager for the time being. It is even more chaotic than the Devils towards the end of Hall’s tenure here.

But we will see how things pan out. Right now, the Devils have three first-rounders in a good draft. This is time to move forward and think of the team’s future.

Hall Dealt to Arizona

So it finally has happened. Taylor Hall, the subject of trade rumors for the last few weeks, has been sent to the Arizona Coyotes along with Blake Speers for a package that includes draft picks and prospects.

Hall and Speers were sent to the Coyotes in exchange for Arizona’s 2020 first-round selection (top three protected), their third-round pick in 2021 (conditional), defenseman Kevin Bahl and Nick Merkley and Nate Schnarr (both forwards) according to the Devils’ press release put out.

According to the press release, the conditions on the draft picks are: “If Arizona’s 2020 first-round selection is in the top three, New Jersey will receive Arizona’s first-round pick in 2021.” On the 2021 conditional pick, “the third-round pick in 2021 becomes a second-round selection if Arizona wins a Stanley Cup Playoff round OR Taylor Hall re-signs in Arizona. The third-round pick in 2021 becomes a first-round selection if Arizona wins a Stanley Cup Playoff round AND Taylor Hall re-signs in Arizona. If neither condition happens, New Jersey still receives the 2021 third-round pick.”

The centerpiece of this deal from the Devils’ perspective sees Bahl’s rights coming eastward. The 6-feet, seven-inch, 230-pound 19-year-old is a left-shooting defenseman (a hole the Devils needed to desperately fill) currently playing in the OHL for the Ottawa 67’s. He is one of the players at Canada’s World Junior Championship camp as well, so we could see even more of him in the coming weeks, as that tournament gets underway the day after Christmas in the Czech Republic.

The New Westminster, British Columbia native currently has five goals and 15 assists for 20 points this season for the 67’s. He also has 43 penalty minutes, which the press release notes puts him as the only d-man in the OHL with 20 points and over 40 penalty minutes this season.

The Devils currently have four draft picks playing with the 67’s: Bahl, Graeme Clark, Mitchell Hoelscher and Nikita Okhotyuk.

As for the other prospects acquired by New Jersey, Merkley is 22-years-old and 5-feet, 10-inches, 195-pounds. He shoots from the right side and is currently in the AHL for the Tucson Roadrunners, where he has three goals and 13 assists for 16 points over 26 games. He was an AHL All-Star in 2018 and was the first-round pick of the Coyotes (30th overall) in 2015.

Schnarr is 20-years-old and 6-feet, 3-inches, 180-pounds. He also currently plays in the American League for the Roadrunners and has one goal and eight assists for nine points in 22 games. He was the Coyotes’ third-round pick in 2017, 75th overall. He played last year with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario League, where he helped lead the team to the OHL championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup.

Both players are centers.

Good luck to Taylor Hall as he moves on in his career. There have been varying takes about his time here, but the fact is that the 2017-18 season where he essentially put the Devils on his back and got them to the playoffs en route to winning the Hart Trophy – the first Devil to do so – was simply amazing to watch. Hopefully Bahl pans out and fills the need the Devils have. Hall wanted more than anything to get a chance at a Stanley Cup and (believe it or not) he may have that shot in Arizona, who have been on top of the Pacific Division and, at the least, are headed to the playoffs.

Hall will wear number 91 for the Coyotes according to NHL Network’s NHL Now, which was one of the sources that broke the story.