As stated in the 3rd round forwards profile, the 3rd round is being split in two. Today we will look at some defensemen that could go in the 3rd round. For awhile, the Devils defensemen prospect pool was stacked. Larsson, Severson, Merrill, and Gelinas seemed like they could’ve been a solid top 4 at one time. That time has passed. Larsson is a quality defender and does a very solid job on the Devils top pairing. Severson had some setbacks this season, but is still young and has the tools to be a good top 4 defender. Merrill had setbacks and injuries, and has regressed since his rookie season. Gelinas was traded away. At one time, young defensemen were the Devils best asset, but now they need to restock.
There have been five players to be granted exceptional status in the CHL. John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, and Joseph Veleno. Those first three don’t need any introduction. All three have been 1st overall picks. Veleno put up 43 points in 62 games as a 16 year old. That leaves Sean Day. A left-handed defenseman for the Mississauga Steelheads, Day is a frustrating player. He has all the skill, but can’t put it all together. He had 22 points in 57 games this season, which was down from his 36 points in 61 games the season before. He ended up with 3 points in 7 playoff games this season as well. He’s played at the U17 World Hockey Challenge twice, putting up 3 points in 5 games in 2013-14, and 4 points in 5 games in 2014-15.
As stated, Day is a frustrating player. Look at what some scouts have to say about him. Steve Kournianos from The Draft Analyst had Day going 79th to Ottawa in his May mock draft. Here’s what he said about Day, “If the third round was renamed the Island of Draft Hype Castoffs, then Day would undoubtedly rule the land. Blessed with pro-level speed and size, Day couldn’t piece them together into one explosive package. Rather, his three-zone (or any zone) consistency was up and down, and it took a solid showing at the Top Prospects Game and the subsequent second half to save his draft stock from bottoming out.” That’s not really encouraging. Again, he has the skills to be a great player, but just can’t put that together, or doesn’t want to put it together. Curtis Joe from Elite Prospects said something similar, saying, “A mobile two-way defenceman who boasts an elite level skill package. Strong on the forecheck and delivers hard shots and crisp passes. His consistency and enthusiasm exhibited at the game’s defining moments does seem to wane, and the pressure felt seems to impact his decision-making slightly.” Joe basically says that Day can be an impact player, but doesn’t make that impact when he has to.
I’m not sure if I would want the Devils to pick Day. He has the skill to turn into a great player in the NHL, but it’s clear he isn’t there or close yet. He might need a change of scenery, or to play in an organization that can motivate him to put everything together. As a project pick, I could see it. The 3rd round is a round where you can draft someone like this. He has shown flashes of being a top player, and that might be something you can’t pass up. See his Elite Prospects page here.
It’s going to be a very solid year for Victor Mete. The left-handed defenseman plays for the powerhouse London Knights, who are more than likely going to win the Memorial Cup. Mete is undersized, standing at 5’10” and weighing 165 lbs. Obviously he has time to grow as he is only 17, but he’s still very small. But that doesn’t change his skill. In 68 games this season, he put up 38 points, which was second to Olli Juolevi for Knights defensemen. Mete put up 11 points in 18 games in the OHL playoffs, helping London win the championship. Mete currently has 1 point in 3 games at the Memorial Cup. He represented Canada Red U17 team at the U17 World Hockey Challenge, putting up 2 points in 5 games.
If Mete was bigger, he’d be a more high-profile player. His size is very small for a potential NHL defenseman, but that doesn’t mean he won’t reach his potential. One benefit of his small size is his speed. Steve from The Draft Analyst talked about Mete’s speed, saying, “his biggest asset is speed — he is lightning-quick and doesn’t have to tinker with his quickness in order to blow the doors off an opponent.” Steve has him going 73rd in his mock. Hard to hit him if you can’t catch him. If he does grow (which is a possibility, he is only 17), his speed could be a great asset. Bill Placzek talked about his game, saying, “decent at handling most attackers one on one, boxing them out. Plays with calm and is a terrific puck mover in the offensive zone and the power play. Excellent with his decisions with the puck on the PP. Might be THE best offense man in the class. Needs to get stronger and thicker if he is going to project as an all-around pro.” Bill has him going in the 2nd round in his mock. Mete seems like the kind of player that can be a valuable offensive forward who is responsible in his own end if all goes right. Check out his Elite Prospects page here.
Moverare is a young defenseman, only 17 years old, but he’s a big kid. The 6’2″, 195 lbs left-handed defenseman made his way through the HV71 system, even reaching the Swedish Hockey League. Moverare spent most of his time playing in the SuperElit team with HV71 J20, where he put up 21 points in 41 games. He didn’t put up any points in the SHL, but 4 games as a 17 year old is still pretty impressive. His J20 playoffs saw him put up 1 point in 3 games. Moverare also represented Sweden in international tournaments. He won two silver medals, one at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup and the U18 World Championship. He was voted a top 3 player for Sweden at the U18 World Championship, and put up 5 points in 7 games. Was a pretty good season for the young Swede.
Steve from The Draft Analyst has him going to the Devils in the 3rd round in his mock draft. Steve mentions that he is a high-upside guy in this draft. Steve also mentions his skating and passing abilities, saying, “He has good size, but his mobility and passing are what will get him to the next level. Making questionable decisions is par for the course for offensive-minded defenders, so the Devils should expect a bumpy development path.” I kept that last part in there because I think it’s important to point out his flaws as well. If the Devils do draft Moverare, they shouldn’t rush his development. Bill Placzek has Moverare going in the 2nd round in his mock draft. Bill talks about his defensive abilities, describing Moverare as a “rangy defender who maintains his gaps and seems to make good decisions on when to attack the puck carrier and when to back off. His big stick gets in the passing lane and displays smart body placement in his end. He can take or receive a puck and quick change direction and transition the puck up-ice.” One thing I really like is how he can quickly transition the puck up the ice, which is important in today’s NHL. He could be a solid pick for the Devils, but there could be growing pains with him. Here is his Elite Prospects page.
Our final profile is Luke Green, a right-handed defenseman from Halifax, and a former 1st overall pick in the QMJHL Entry Draft. Green has spent the last two seasons playing with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. His last two seasons were pretty much the same. His rookie season saw him put up 36 points in 60 games, which was second for Sea Dogs defensemen, behind 2015 1st round pick Thomas Chabot. He also put up 3 points in 5 playoff games that year, and represented Canada White U17 at the U17 World Hockey Challenge. He put up 4 points in 5 games during that tournament. His latest season saw him put up 35 points in 61 games, but saw his goal totals jump from 6 to 10. Again, he was second in points among Sea Dogs defensemen, trailing on Chabot. His playoffs this season weren’t anything special, putting up 3 points in 13 games.
Green is an interesting prospect. He had a very good rookie season, but didn’t seem to progress in his draft year. His goal totals did go up, but he should’ve had a better draft year overall. Certain expectations come with being drafted 1st overall, even in a major junior league, and it doesn’t look like he’s lived up to them. That’s not to say he wasn’t good, though. He did take a bad hit from Pierre-Luc Dubois, so that could explain some of his performance issues. Still, he could be someone to look at in the 3rd round. Steve from The Draft Analyst mentioned how he is still one of the steadier defensemen in the QMJHL, and that he has one hell of a shot. Steve has him going to the Panthers with the 83rd pick. Look at his stats and a quote from Curtis Joe (from 2015) at this Elite Prospects page.