Rounds 4-7 are also going to be under one post. These rounds are where teams will look for gems or project picks. Obviously you can find great players in these rounds (Johnny Gaudreau, Joe Pavelski, and Jamie Benn come to mind), but it’s not something that happens often. It’s unlikely, but hopefully the Devils can end up finding a gem in the later rounds. There’s not much out there for these players, so these will be more of overviews than in depth looks. The prospects in this were picked because of draft rankings and mock drafts. First up is round 4.
Ross Colton-Left Wing
A New Jersey native, Colton played U16 hockey with the Mercer Chiefs and New Jersey Rockets before going to play prep school hockey for the Taft School. He has spent the last two seasons with the Cedar Rapid RoughRiders of the USHL. Colton put up 33 points in 58 games during his rookie season, and upped his totals to 66 in 55 games this season. Ross is committed to the University of Vermont for the 2016-17 season. One thing about Ross is that he is already 19 years old, so he is an overage prospect. See his Elite Prospects page here, and a write up on the USA Hockey website from the USHL/NHL Top Prospects game here. The Draft Analyst has Colton going to the Devils in round 4, pick 101 in their mock.
Jack Kopacka-Left Wing
Jack played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL last season. His season before that was split between Compuware U18, USA U17, and Sault Ste. Marie. Kopacka had a pretty decent season for the Greyhounds. He put up 43 points in 67 games. He also put up 4 points in 12 playoff games. Elite Prospects had a small write up on Kopacka that said some encouraging things about the big forward. The one that stood out was how he played himself into a top 6 OHL role. You can find the small write up and his career stats over at Elite Prospects.
The brother of Devils prospect John Quenneville, David has been a consistent point producer in his career. Quenneville plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. During the 2014-15 season, he put up 20 points in 66 games. He played in one playoff game that year, and didn’t put up any points. His 2015-16 season saw his point totals jump from 20 to 55. Medicine Hat didn’t make the playoffs this year, but it was a very good year for Quenneville. He lead the Tigers defense in points, and was third overall. The only two players to put up more than him were overager Chad Butcher and 2017 eligible Mason Shaw. Read an article about Quenneville here, and look at his stats more in depth at Elite Prospects. The Draft Analyst has Quenneville going to the Devils in round 4, pick 104 in their mock draft.
Sambrook played for a very good Erie Otters team this year. Sambrook was a rookie for Erie this year, and ended up coming in 3rd in rookie scoring for defensemen with 27 points in 67 games. He lead all Otters defensemen in goals with 9. Curtis Joe from Elite Prospects described Sambrook as a “smooth-skating two-way defenceman that displays solid creativity and offensive instincts, as well as a strong defensive game.” That’s something that you like to hear. You can read what else Joe had to say, and the rest of Sambrook’s stats, here at Elite Prospects. Brock Otten from OHL Prospects ranked Sambrook 34th on his top 50 OHL Players for the 2016 NHL Draft. One thing to note from his small write up is that if he played on a team with less depth, he would be a higher ranked prospect. He could be a very good pick if he’s taken in the 4th or 5th round. You can read the rest of Brock’s assessment here.
Brandon is a prospect that will probably be drafted before the 4th round, but NHL Central Scouting has him ranked 98th (NA Skaters), so he is on the list. Gignac is a small player, but has skill. He put up 61 points in 67 games with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. He was 5th on the team in points, and ended up with 16 points in 20 playoff games. He also put up 40 points in his rookie season. His goal totals jumped from 9 to 24, so it’s nice to see him finish when given the chance. I doubt he is available in the 4th round, but if he is, he’d be a good get for the Devils. See his Elite Prospects page here.
Mattson had a very successful high school career in Minnesota. He put up 146 points in 96 games across 3 years of high school hockey. He wasn’t as successful at the USHL level, though, as he only put up 9 points in 37 games. He’s committed to North Dakota, who is coming off of a National Championship. He’s going to play for one of, if not the best college hockey program in the country, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares there. Chris Dilks over at SB Nation College Hockey mentioned Mattson and how he’s received attention even though he hasn’t put up the points in a league like the USHL. Mattson’s Elite Prospects page can be found here.
Twarynski is an interesting prospect. Some sites have him listed as a winger, some as a defenseman, and some has him listed as both. He played for the Calgary Hitmen this year, and ended up putting up 20 goals/25 assists for 45 points in 67 games. Looking at these stats, it’s safe to say he spent more time as a forward. He was fourth on the Hitmen in goals and sixth in points. You can look at all of Twarynski’s stats over at Elite Prospects. You can also read an article by Ryan Pike over at The Hockey Writers here. It’s a short article, but a good one.
Bernhardt has spent the last five years playing in the Djurgårdens IF Hockey. He has yet to play in the Swedish Hockey League, but put up 38 points in 45 games in the J20 SuperElit league, which is the highest level of junior hockey in Sweden. He was 25th overall in scoring, and was the second highest scoring defensemen in the SuperElit League. There’s a very good chance he plays in the SHL next year, which will have a big impact on his development as a player. You can look at his stats here. For what it’s worth, Draft Site has Bernhardt going to the Devils in the 5th round in their mock.
Many fans might argue that the Devils don’t need to draft a goalie this year. Wedgewood is still young and had a decent year for the A-Devils, Blackwood was the best goalie in the OHL, and maybe the entire CHL, and Ken Appleby was fantastic in the ECHL. These are all young goalies, but I don’t think you can really get enough of them. Goalies are weird, and it’s hard to project their development. For that reason, Woll might be worth the 5th round pick. The US National Development Team Program product played in 33 games this year for the US National U18 team, putting up a .918 SV% and a 2.14 GAA. He also played in 12 USHL games for the NTDP, putting up a less than stellar .898 SV% and 2.60 GAA. That being said, he was a 17 year old and the USHL has older players. Woll also played in three U18 World Championship games, where he put up a very stellar .947 SV% and 1.34 GAA. He is committed to Boston College, where he will look to be replace Thatcher Demko as the starter. BC won’t be as good next year, so he should face some shots. He could be a good project pick in the 5th round. Check out his full list of stats here.
It’s somewhat surprising that Salituro hasn’t been drafted already. He has produced every year he’s been in the OHL, but still went undrafted. If you look at this Elite Prospects page, you can see for yourself that he’s been very consistent. He’s also gotten better every year. The knock on Salituro, and probably why he hasn’t been drafted yet, is his size. He’s 19 years old and he’s only 5’9″, 174 lbs. His first three years in the CHL have looked something like Tyler Johnson’s, and we all know how he turned out. Obviously I’m not saying he will turn into a Tyler Johnson like player, but I think he could be worth a shot in the 6th round. If not and he goes undrafted again, he could be someone the Devils look to sign as a free agent, like they did with Joseph Blandisi. You can find his full stats, and a write up from Tyler Parchem here.
Grant Jozefek-Right Wing
Another New Jersey Native, Jozefek played for the North Jersey Avalanche at the 16U and Midget levels, and then for the New Jersey Hitmen at the 16U and 18U levels. He was drafted 7th overall in the 2013 USHL Futures Draft by the Muskegon Lumberjacks. He was traded by the Lumberjacks to the Lincoln Stars, where he spent the last two seasons. His rookie season saw him put up 26 points in 51 games, but only 4 goals. His 2015-16 season saw much better production with 53 points in 56 games. He also put up 21 goals, which is a huge improvement from his previous year. The small forward is committed to Northeastern. The knock on Jozefek is he is a small kid, only 5’10” and 170 lbs. He’s going to play against much better and bigger competition while at Northeastern, so it will be a big test for him. It might be worth it for the Devils to look at the NJ native with their 6th round pick. See his full stats here.
Wade Allison-Right Wing
Another USHL player, Wade Allison dominated in every league he was in before joining the Tri-City Storm for the 2014-15 season. His first year with Tri-City saw him put up 13 points in 35 games, and then 2 points in 7 playoff games. His latest season was much better, though. Wade put up 47 points in 56 games, but was outstanding in the playoffs. Allison had 16 points in 11 games, helping the Storm win their first ever Clark Cup. He ended up finishing in second for points in the playoffs. Wade is also a big kid already, standing 6’2″ tall and weighing 205 lbs. He is committed to play hockey at Western Michigan University. You can find his full stats here.
Greg Printz-Left Wing
Really not much out there about Printz. He’s a tall kid at 6’2″, and weighs 196 lbs. He mostly played for the Selects Hockey Academy 18U team this year, where he put up 50 points in 26 games. He played two games for USNTDP in the USHL and then two more for the U18 team. He put up 0 points across those four games. He joined the Chicago Steel of the USHL for 6 games, putting up 2 points. He is committed to Providence College. Not much to see here. Maybe you pick him and pray he turns into something, but not many 7th round picks make the NHL. Full stats here.
The overager had a solid season for Boston College. He put up 27 points in 39 games for the Eagles. He has spent time with the USNTDP, and has represented the US in a few international tournaments. I got the chance to see BC play some games this season, and Fitzgerald looked very solid. BC isn’t going to be as good next year, as they lost a good portion of their top players, so Fitzgerald will play the tough minutes and can prove himself. Oh yeah, his dad is also the Devils assistant GM, so there’s that little tidbit of info. Check out his USNTDP stats at Elite Prospects.
There’s a pretty good chance none of the players the Devils pick from rounds 4-7 end up in the NHL, or that they make a significant impact if they do. But these are the rounds where steals happen, or you find a gem that you hope does contribute at the NHL level. If the Devils end up with one player from these rounds that helps them in the future, it’ll be a win. When it comes down to it, we can only hope that the Devils can get one of these picks to stick, and if they’re lucky, maybe one ends up as the next Joe Pavelski.