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.

Domingue to Vancouver; Vatanen headed to Carolina

The Devils made two late swaps before the 3 PM NHL trade deadline.

The team sent goaltender Louis Domingue to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for goalie Zane McIntyre.

McIntyre is a 27-year-old, 6-foot, 2-inch 205 pounder with a 3.16 goals against average with the Utica Comets – the Canucks’ AHL affiliate. He is 11-10-2 in the American League right now. He will report to Binghamton as per the press release put out by the Devils.

McIntyre does have NHL experience, appearing in eight games with the Bruins in 2016-17.

Domingue’s tenure between the pipes for the Devils was not stellar. He finished with a 3-8-2 record appearing in 16 games since being acquired from the Lightning earlier in the season. He finished with an .882 save percentage and a 3.79 goals against average with the Devils.

In a separate deal, the Devils sent defenseman Sami Vatanen to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Fredrick Claesson, prospect Janne Kuokkanen and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Devils will also retain 50-percent of Vatanen’s salary.

The star of this trade is Kuokkanen, a 21-year-old forward who was picked 43rd overall in the 2016 NHL Draft (second-round). The 6-foot, 1-inch, 195-pound player is currently in the AHL where he was playing for the Charlotte Checkers. There he has 12 goals, 30 assists for 42 points over 52 games.

According to the Devils’ press release, he played in seven games at the NHL level for Carolina in 2018-19 and has appeared in eleven NHL games total.

He is a native of Oulunsalo, Finland and played in Finland for Karpat. He also played a year in the Ontario Hockey League with the London Knights. He won gold at the 2016 World Junior under-18 tournament and has represented Finland in the 2017 and 2018 World Junior Championships.

Claesson is a 27-year-old defenseman and currently has three goals, 16 assists for a total of 19 points for AHL Charlotte. He has played in 150 NHL regular season games for the Senators and Rangers. His NHL totals read six goals and 20 assists for 26 points.

Vatanen was an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season. The conditions on the fourth-round pick have been reported by Bob McKenzie of TSN on Twitter as being based on how much Vatanen plays and if he stays healthy (he is currently on injured reserve). The Devils did not mention the condition in their press release.