The New Jersey Devils completed the 2009 NHL Draft with selections in the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds. After three straight rounds of big defensemen, the Devils took two wingers before taking a fourth defender with the final pick. Normally, these late picks are reaches of some sort, so information is a little hard to come by online. So if you've seen these players play, by all means, let me know!
In the fifth round, 144th overall, the Devils drafted left wing Derek Rodwell from the Okotoks Oilers in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. According to the league's site, Rodwell played 41 games with the Oilers, putting 17 goals and providing 12 assists. As I understand it, he was selected to play in the World Junior A Challenge tournament, but an injury kept him from playing. While his numbers may not wow you, consider that he has committed to the University of North Dakota for next season. UND doesn't take players unless they have some level of "game" so I'd keep tabs on the player from time to time - preferbly at the Western College Hockey Blog. Here's a quote from his coach from the league's press release announcing his committment:
Oilers GM/Head Coach Dan MacDonald states, "Derek is a quiet, sincere, dedicated team player, who has matured into one of the best power forwards in Canadian Junior ‘A’ hockey. His continued development will most assuredly see him playing at the highest level of hockey. The Okotoks Oilers are extremely proud of Derek’s accomplishments and wish him every success with his future scholastic and hockey plans."
We will see if he will continue to be a power forward at the NCAA level.
With the sixth round pick, 174th overall, the New Jersey Devils selected Ashton Bernard from Shawinigan of the QMJHL. All you really need to know about him comes from his stats page at the QMJHL's site; and the fact the many of the initial listings for Bernard are videos of fights. He's big, he's tough, and he fights.
Before you say, well, that's a waste of a pick - that's exactly what described Pierre-Luc Leblond-Latourneau when he was drafted and now look at him. OK, it still applies except he now has a NHL contract.
Finally, the Devils ended their draft with the 204th overall pick, taking a defenseman from another Junior A league: Curtis Gedig of the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the BCHL. The first thing you'll note about Gedig - other than that he's also fairly big at 6'3" and 197 lbs. - is his age. He's not even 18 yet, born right before the cutoff date for this year's NHL Draft. Therefore, he's not even committed to a college - will he, or can he play another year in Junior A? Still, that CSS ranked him 115th overall - a jump of 50 spots from the midterm ranking of 165 - could mean he may have some upside in his future. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell you more than these basic facts.
That concludes the 2009 NHL Draft for New Jersey. The Devils went big and they got big, with their smallest player being Jacob Josefson standing at 6'0", 187 lbs. They selected four defensemen - all with size - and all with potential of some sort. All are projects of some sort and will need additional experience, but in a few years, you'll see the names Gelinas, Helgeson, Urbom, and Gedig more often, I think and hope. The Devils also have another possible power forward (Rodwell) and an enforcer (Bernard) to add to their depth. The first round pick is definitely looking good, though and if you can get a great player at all in a draft, then that's a good draft.