|"Wait... so you're keeping this year's first rounder?"|
It was a good run for the New Jersey Devils this year finishing as Eastern Conference champions and coming within two wins of the Stanley Cup. Because of their hard work, the Devils will be picking 29th at the 2012 Entry Draft next week. It's not the greatest first round pick, so many expected the Devils CEO, President and GM, Lou Lamoriello, to forfeit it as penalty for that cap circumvention fiasco with Ilya Kovalchuk two years ago. Well, that deadline has passed, meaning the Devils will have to forfeit one of their first round picks in the next two seasons.
If you're a casual fan and have no idea what we're talking about, here's a refresher. As punishment for circumventing the salary cap when they tried to sign Ilya Kovalchuk two years ago to that insane 17-year, $102 million contract two summers ago, the Devils were told by the NHL they must give up one of their first rounders between the 2011 and 2014 seasons. In addition, the Devils were also stripped of their third round pick in 2011 and paid a $3 million fine because of the original Kovalchuk contract that the league rejected.
Now, the Devils lucked out last year when they won the lottery and shot up to the 4th overall pick at the draft. Keeping that pick was a no-brainer and they took Swedish d-man, Adam Larsson, with that pick. Ideally, the pick you want to forfeit would be a late first rounder, say a 29th or 30th pick. So what the hell is Lou thinking by not forfeiting this year's first rounder? There's a very good chance that the Devils next two seasons will not be as good as this years; meaning a better draft pick will have to be forfeited. In fact, I would bet my house, my girlfriend and my dog that the Devils do not have a worse draft pick than this years.
There is just so much uncertainty for the Devils next two seasons. Zach Parise is a UFA, Marty Brodeur is 40, and Patrik Elias is aging and showed it during the playoffs. Not many people could name more than 3 guys on the Devils blueline this season, and it's hard to see David Clarkson potting 30 goals again. Don't get us wrong, the Devils are a solid team, but the wheels could easily fall off this cart and turn the Devils into a lottery team. So why hang on to this 29th pick?
Did Lamoriello forget about the deadline? Does he like this year's draft class so much he wants to be guaranteed a top 30 pick? Maybe he realizes Brodeur is fading and needs to draft a keeper at the draft? Or maybe he plans to trade up at the draft for a better pick? Regardless, the whole situation is very strange as most people assumed New Jersey wouldn't be drafting in the first round this year. Well, everybody but Lou Lamoriello who will have to dig deep into his scouting reports and pick a winner at this year's draft.