The 2009 NHL Draft Picks by the New Jersey Devils An Overview

The New Jersey Devils went into the 2009 NHL Draft in Montreal with 8 picks, ending with only 7 players.  The Devils packaged their third round pick along with their 23rd overall pick in the first round to Calgary in exchange for Calgary's 20th overall pick.  The Devils traded up to select the center from Djurgarden and the third ranked European skater by CSS, Jacob Josefson.     On the second day, the theme for the Devils' selection was defense size: every selection outside of their fifth rounder was 6'2" or bigger, and all but two picks were defensemen.   While they aren't flashy picks, should they meet projections, the Devils will have much more depth in the system on defense.

Anyway, in case you have missed the NHL Draft, this post will serve as an overview for who the Devils selected.  I did make posts about the players as the picks happened, but this will serve as a compendium of what I think is important to know about the player drafted in each round.

Granted, you truly can't judge a draft until many years later, when the players have actually developed into professionals.   Still, Lou was pleased with how the Devils did.  As for reader reactions, I put up a poll asking readers how they felt about the Devils' performance at the Draft. The poll is still open and will run for a few more days, but so far, 56% percent of readers feel that the Devils did a "good" job at the Draft.  30% rate it as "excellent," so a majority are positive about the selections as well.  Feel free to register your vote.

As a last aside, Välkommen till blogg, vänner från Sverige! Jag vet att du har varit här hela helgen lång. Tack!

From NHL.com, here are the Devils picks from the 2009 NHL Draft.  The most crucial scouting reports/quotes/stats that I found for each player (warning: it's huge!) are after the jump:

Rnd Pick Ov Team Player D.O.B. Birth Place Cty Ht Wt League Team Pos
1 20 20 NJD JACOB JOSEFSON Mar 2, 1991  STOCKHOLM  SE  6' 0"  187  SWEDEN  DJURGARDEN
2 24 54 NJD ERIC GELINAS May 8, 1991  VANIER, ON  CA  6' 4"  185  QMJHL  LEWISTON
3 12 73 NJD ALEXANDER URBOM Dec 20, 1990  STOCKHOLM  SE  6' 3"  196  SWEDEN  DJURGARDEN
4 23 114 NJD SETH HELGESON Oct 8, 1990  FARIBAULT, MN  US  6' 5"  220  USHL  SIOUX CITY
5 23 144 NJD DEREK RODWELL Jul 8, 1990  TABER, AB  CA  6' 1"  190  AJHL  OKOTOKS LW 
6 23 174 NJD ASHTON BERNARD Feb 5, 1990  ESKASONI, NS  CA  6' 4"  197  QMJHL  SHAWINIGAN LW 
7 23 204 NJD CURTIS GEDIG Sep 14, 1991  PENTICTON, BC  CA  6' 3"  190  BCHL  COWICHAN VALLEY D
First Round Pick: Jacob Josefson - ILWT Post on Selection

The Devils were very interested in this player and traded up to take him.  Lou's quotes to Gulitti on Josefson were very positive.

"He’s a complete player," Lamoriello said. "I haven’t seen our draft table as excited as I’ve seen them today in a long time because where we had him ranked and then he didn’t go. Then, you get to point where you say, ‘Maybe he’s going to be close.’ Then, when you get close to where you’re going to draft, maybe four or five picks, that’s the only chance you have of somebody else switching. So, we made some calls and we were able to get Calgary to do it."

 

 ...

"He's a center iceman who can do everything on both sides of the puck," Lamoriello said. "He makes other people better than him. He's a passer. He's the type of player -- he's a lefty shot -- that we need."

I asked Adam Savonen, one of the writers of one of Sweden's most popular hockey blogs at Norren.se, for his thoughts on Josefson.   The blog is in Swedish and it does tend to focus on Skelleftea AIK, but Savonen does follow the SEL and Sweden's national teams so he is familiar and has seen Josefson firsthand.  He even contributed his thoughts in English (which I fixed up a little bit), so here are Savonen's comments.

Josefson: A playmaker with great skating [ability]. He is strong all over the ice, and a very smart player with very good positioning [skills]. His speed and his smartness makes the big talent a possible [contributor] in both powerplay and boxplay [penalty kill?]. It is also possible to play Josefson in an offensive line or in a shutdown-line. The center can take [on] big responsibility on the ice.
Thanks for that, Mr. Savonen! In summary: Josefson is a two-way center who could become a contributor in all situations with his playmaking, skating, and intelligence.  His talents are definitely recognized by the Djurgarden and Team Sweden, as the young center stayed with the senior team all season and played for both the U-18 and U-20 national teams.  In fact, this scouting profile by Anders Östberg at Hockeymagasinet is especially boastful, comparing the player to one Henrik Zetterberg!  It even adds to what Savonen had to say about the player. Here's the Google translated text (note: I did not attempt to improve the English from the translation, sorry!):
Jacob is a SICKLY talented two-way center who is very all-round. He is first and foremost a great skating with very quick feet, which he thus may up speed really quickly and reaches a very high topspeed. In combination with skating, he has also a first-game content - where he reads the game excellent across the ice - and is located right in the path of its center position. He is very responsible defensively, good in BP, and so incredibly smart in their own zone. In addition to these skills he is also very toxic offensive, which, above all, his skill game stands out the most out of everything, although he also has a really good technology, and is a clearance of good rank. He is obviously very skilled in the PP and can control the tempo of anfallszon when he directs and sets. I would like to compare Jacob with Henrik Zetterberg, where Zetterberg is a little smarter, while Jacob is a better skates. The best thing about Jacob is that he will be utilized in a great way over there, because I think he just as easily could develop into a producing top2-center - which will be a shutdown-center - and then play against the opposition's country stars. Okay, that means that Jacob is in the first round? Yes, it is quite clear. Negative value for Jacobs, however, was that he step out of a bad shoulder in spring, so that he could clinch the problem (could not go to the full), and that he was not especially good in the U18 World Championships. Learn undoubtedly go somewhere between the 'middle and end' of the first round if there is any logic in the draft world.
I love how that last sentence translates.  Anyway, Josefson has one more year on his contract at Djurgarden, so we could see him stateside shortly. Quite frankly, you should be very excited that the Devils selected Josefson.

Second Round Pick: Eric Gelinas - ILWT Post on Selection

For starters, no, he is not related to former hockey player Martin Gelinas. He is the son of former baseball player Marc Gelinas from the 1970s.  Anyway, he was the first of four defensemen taken on the second day of the NHL Draft and he's surprisingly the smallest at 6'2" and 190 lbs.  Given that his dad is 6'8"t Gelinas could - and reportedly did - grow.   In fact, that 6'2" height was measured at the beginning of his junior season at Lewiston, he was reportedly measured at 6'4" at the NHL Combine.  Now that's some size!

Gulitti actually got in touch with Gelinas after he was selected, who said that it was a dream for him to be drafted.  Gelinas describes his assets and what he needs to work on in the future here. The good news is that he's a pretty good skater for a big man and that he's got good vision too:

Gelinas has heard the comparison to Chris Pronger because of his size and skating styles, "but there's a lot of difference in our games. But if you watch him skate, I think I skate like him. I probably handle the puck like him."

When asked to assess his own game, Gelinas siad, "I think I have really good skating ability. I pass the puck well. I think I have a good vision for good transition. That's my probably my biggest asset."

What does he need to work on?

"Right now, I'm working on my defensive zone play, positioning and stuff," he said. "I'm also working on getting more consistent and I want to be smarter also in my physical play, like how to use it."

This self-assessment agrees with what Red Line Report had on the player, which was posted at the Chicago Blackhawks' website.  It's most comprehensive scouting report I could find on the player:
"Tall and rangy with good mobility. Smooth, powerful stride and covers lots of ice in one stride. Loves to handle the puck and move in deep to force action at offensive end. High risk, high reward guy who takes a lot of changes, but makes things happen. Work in progress in his own end – was a forward until two years ago. Loose around own net -- needs work on positioning, clearing rebounds, and coverage down low. Confident attitude and handles the puck crisply. Can make brilliant home run passes through neutral zone. Has size/strength that ne needs to use more effectively. Already huge with a father who’s an athletic 6-foot-8 former pro baseball player. Got plenty of icetime on a rebuilding club, including quarterbacking the PP. Good footwork and mobility with a wide skating base. Will require lots of defensive development and coaching, but is a longterm project with great upside."
Gelinas was selected out of Lewiston and I imagine he'll continue to play in major junior for at least another year, working on his consistency, positioning, and his sense on using phsyical play.   The Devils are notoriously patient with their prospects, so Gelinas will get plenty of time to improve. Should he improve in those regards, the Devils could have a gem on their hand.

Third Round Selection: Alexander Urbom - ILWT Post on Selection

While Urbom is the property of Djurgarden, he split time last season between the senior team and the U-20 club team.  Eliteprospects has his stats and this short scouting profile on him.
A big and strong player. Urbom is more of a stay-at-home defenseman that likes to play physical and usually has good timing in his hits. Positioning is good. Leads the team with his solid play in the defensive zone. Contributed offensively to some extent in the Swedish juniors, but is likely to become more of a shut-down guy. Offensive smarts and technical skills are fairly average.
He's another big defenseman, the second of the Devils' four defenseman selections on Saturday.  Interestingly enough, while reports on Gelinas note that he has some offensive potential, it's my understanding that Urbom will develop into a defensive, physical defenseman.  Supporting this understanding is this rather enthusiastic profile on him by Anders Östberg at Hockeymagasinet.  Again, here is the Google translation of his profile:
Born in late 1990 that he is almost 91a. I was the one that revealed (although XP Jonas Fahlman pretended to be the first) that Urbom was utfryst of Djurgården, because he did not want to write new contracts for next season. It was very unfortunate for Urboms draft value, because he received so little exposure in the spring. However, I remain very high on Urbom and has been so all the time. Stockholm He has really nice and smooth skating for its extremely large size (192, 90), really good game inside, and is generally, an djäkla 'fiery hard'. A really wonderful leader who radiates authority and Pondus on the ice. Urbom might be even more physical in their own zone, but it is really up to their peers - and throw more than happy gloves - if it was to. In Elitserien he focused on playing solid and form a defensive 5-6e back, which is the same role as I believe he will be able to play in North America, though hopefully a little meaner. Ie a defensive WHOPPER perhaps matched hard resistance against the country's stars and gets a lot of playing time in BP, etc.. However, it should not underestimate his offensive potential, so it might be something there too (?), Because he is quite adept at blålinjen of PP. He has otherwise the right smart passningsspel, good first pass from own zone, flexible, good timing, and have really good traction with the puck in their possession. Will Urbom when Drafts? Yes, I think I can safely say. However, it is very difficult to say how early or late. Hardly the first three rounds, but then it can probably be at any time.

While it took a little effort, I think he's saying that Urbom isn't under contract with Djurgarden or anyone in the SEL just yet.  Maybe if he doesn't sign, he'll attempt to come to North America?  I don't know.  In any case, Östberg states he's a good skater (another big man who can skate well!) and generally states that he is very good on defense.  This basically concurrs with Eliteprospect's projection as Urbom becoming a defensive defenseman.  However, that he felt he wouldn't be taken in the first three rounds make me wonder about his overall upside.  In any case, hopefully he'll have a place to play next season, he'll improve, and if/when he does come over, perhaps we can see him drop some Urbombs on poor opponents.

Fourth Round Pick: Seth Helgeson - ILWT Post on Selection

Now, this could be considered a steal of sorts.  CSS ranked him as the 41st best North American skater and he fell all the way to the Devils at 114th overall!  

Helgeson is a big physical defensive defenseman, but has also impressed scouts with his speed. Though he's not much of an offensive threat, he does possess a booming slap shot.

Strengths: Size, physicality, speed

Needs to Improve: Offensive abilities

...

Final Projection:

Helgeson isn't  a flashy or dynamic player and likely will never put up 40 points in the a season at the pro level, which is what will keep him out of the first round of the draft, but he does possess the ability to be a punishing physical presence that is reliable in his own zone. Helgeson would be a great pick for a team that picked up a very skilled offensive player in the first round, and is looking to add a solid defensive-minded bruiser in the second round.

It's too funny, the Devils not only drafted three big defensemen who could be quite physical on the ice, but three big defensemen who could be quite physical on the ice that are praised for their skating in some way or form.    Fantastic!   Anyway, Gulitti actually found two quotes from two anonymous scouts that emphasize that Helgeson is indeed a defensive defenseman:

He sounds like a project, but apparently moves well for a big man and plays with a physical edge. He had four goals and 12 assists in 56 games for Sioux City in 2008-09.

One scout told The Hockey News: "He's a big, strong defensive defenseman. Nothing more. Nothing less." 

Another scout quoted in The Hockey News: "He plays the game like a warrior. He has an edge and some touch with the puck. He has size and grit. He's a guy who's going to be difficult to play against at whatever level he plays."

Truth be told, that doesn't bother me so much.  You need defensive-minded defensemen on the blueline in addition to offensive and two-way defensemen. Players who can be out there to make stops and slow down the opposition. Helgeson was the third big defenseman the Devils selected on the second day, and he is committed to the University of Minnesota for next season.  So keep an eye on him through Western College Hockey Blog as the 2009-2010 progresses. 

Fifth Round Pick: Derek Rodwell - ILWT Post on Selection

The Devils broke the streak of defensemen, with this left winger!  Derek Rodwell plyed his trade in a Junior A league, specifically for the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.  Truth be told, there isn't a whole lot of scouting information on the player.  I found two articles from the AHJL's main site, the first highlighting his selection to represent Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge back in November, and the second stating that he has committed to the University of North Dakota for next season.   In both articles, his coach Don MacDonald states that the player is a power forward.  Here's a quote from the first article:
And the teacher thinks highly of the student. "Derek is a hard working power forward for us," [Don] MacDonald told me. "He works hard. He makes things happen on the ice. He’s learning to read the play and to be in the right place on the ice. And with a young team like we have this season, our young players look to people like Derek to lead the way, and he’s learning to do that too."
As I understand it, injury cut his season - and his chance to play in the World Junior A Challenge - a bit short. Still, he was recruited by UND, so we shall see how he develops in the future. 

Sixth Round Pick: Ashton Bernard - ILWT Post on Selection

There are essentially two things to know about this soon-to-be overaged major junior forward:
"I promise I won’t be scoring 50 goals like Chris Culligan did. But I could bring something that I don’t think the Eagles had even last year, I could bring toughness. I don’t think nobody will be pushing us around this season.   I still have to earn my spot, it won’t be given to me."
Yep, the Devils drafted another enforcer!  Before you say, well, that's a waste, consider that Pierre-Luc Leblond-Latourneau was pretty much the same kind of player when he was drafted.  Yes, PL^3 is still that kind of player, but he has a NHL contract now.  So we might see him in the future?

Seventh Round Pick: Curtis Gedig - ILWT Post on Selection

The Devils ended the draft with their fourth big defenseman, Curtis Gedig of the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the British Columbia Hockey League, a Junior A league.   Incidentally, Gedig is still 17 so I don't know if he'll stay in the Junior A league and committ to a college, or if he'll look to make a jump to the major junior leagues.  He was a rookie in the BCHL, so I wouldn't be surprised if he stays there for another year.  The only other item of note I can find on him is that CSS actually rated him 115th among North American skaters, 50 spots ahead of his mid-term ranking.  That said, I couldn't tell you why he is rated as such but I'm sure how he does in this coming season - wherever that may be - will certainly tell us plenty.

Overall Thoughts:  Were I to rate the 2009 NHL Draft for the Devils on my own poll, I would select "excellent"  Trading up to select Josefson was a wise decision, as I think he'll be a real talent based on what others have said so far.   That he would like to attempt to come over after playing out his contract with Djurgarden makes me think that we'll see him sooner than some may expect.

I'm also very supportive of the decision to draft for size on defense namely because three of those four picks - Gelinas, Urbom, Helgeson - are praised for their skating in some way or form.  It's a nice combination to have, really. They may all turn out to be defensive defensemen, but they would still be assets.  Should they develop, it only makes the Devils system that much deeper.  Mind you, it seems to me that only Matthew Corrente and possibly Brandon Burlon (who is still with Univ. of Michigan) and Tyler Eckford could eventually make it into the NHL.  Depth on defense isn't a bad thing at all, regardless of the style of player.  

As for the rest, Rodwell seems like a long-range pick, but it's heartening that he's going to a hockey power like UND.  Gedig also seems to me as a long shot, but depending on what he does next, I wouldn't dismiss him out of hand. Bernard is the only pick I don't fully understand as the Devils already have Kevin Cormier in the system as an enforcer/goon; I'm not sure why the Devils went for him than some other big skater.  Then again, like I said, PL^3 made it to the Devils line up.

And this will essentially conclude coverage of the 2009 NHL Draft.  The draft has been done for two days now and these seven players are in the Devils system.  As noted by Gulitti in his post about the selection of Josefson, the Devils will hold a development camp on July 13 where, at the least, Josefson will be there.  I imagine the other prospects will be there too for a closer look at how they are doing.   Thank you for getting this far and leave all your thoughts about these selected players in the comments.  Maybe you've seen them play and like to provide an opinion on the player.  Maybe you would like to just offer a thought on the draft.  Maybe you would like to laugh at the translations done by Google. Maybe you would like to just vote on the Devils' performance at this poll.  At this point now, the focus will turn to free agency (which begins on Wednesday!).

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