Newark, NJ – For the first time in a long time, we’re not talking about the New Jersey Devils picking in the first round of the NHL Draft, let alone a lottery selection. Instead, their first selection of the draft will come later in the second round following a very successful season that ended in the second round of the playoffs. The Devils are locked in to make their first selection (barring any trades) at pick No.58. Let’s take a look at five Devils 2023 Draft targets General Manager Tom Fitzgerald can hit on in the second round.
One of the common narratives about the Devils this season was that “they’re too small.” To combat that narrative, Fitzgerald acquired Timo Meier and Curti Lazar at the 2023 NHL Trade deadline in order to add some size and physicality, amongst other things. Still, the Devils could use some size in their system to eventually add to their roster. As you’ve probably gathered by now, the following five prospects are all large, NHL-ready-size.
*Draft Rankings collected from:
- FC Hockey’s 2023 NHL Draft Prospect Rankings
Devils 2023 Draft Targets
Age: 18, Height: 6-foot-2, Weight: 198, Position: LW, BCHL Penticton Vees
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|NHL Central Scouting||40 (North America)|
Suniev had an impressive season recording 50 goals and 100 points between the regular season and playoffs. What’s even more impressive is that he did so without fellow top prospect Bradley Nadeau, a projected first-round talent, as they played on separate lines.
Suniev’s makeup is almost as complete as it gets. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in all other areas of his game. He owns a plus-shot, both his wrister and slapshot, and plays well in all three zones. Suniev is unafraid to forecheck and defends rather well. He has top-six potential if he puts it all together, however, his arrival to the NHL is a little later down the line as he’s committed to UMass for the 2024-25 season. The Devils can certainly use a big body in their lineup that can also score. Suniev has all those tools and projects as a potential steal later in the second round.
Age: 18, Height: 6-foot-2, Weight: 182, Position: LW, WHL Seattle Thunderbirds
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|NHL Central Scouting||26 (North America)|
Myatovic is a WHL Champion. Playing on a stacked Thunderbirds team, the 18-year-old forward stood out and propelled himself up draft boards. The winger has plus size and a plus shot and the hockey IQ that can succeed at higher levels. He scored 30 goals and 60 points in 68 regular season games and added four goals and seven points in 19 playoff games.
The Canadian forward already possesses pro hockey habits and could act as a solid support player behind the Devils’ elite talents. He’s broken previous ceilings as Myatovic continues to develop really well and appears to project as a high-upside middle-six forward.
Nico Myatovic penalty shot! 😤
— Canadian Hockey League (@CHLHockey) May 20, 2023
Age: 17, Height: 6-foot-3, Weight: 202, Position: C, USHL USNTDP Juniors
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The 17-year-old forward is already committed to the University of Notre Dame, so he’s another prospect that could arrive a little further down the line. Nelson’s history is interesting as a player that has played all of center, wing, and defense. The 6-foot-3, Maple Grove, Minnesota native projects as a defensive center that can set the tone physically and kill penalties.
Offensively, he has an underrated, quick release and can get the puck off his stick just as fast as he can receive it. Nelson is viewed as a player that possesses a plethora of talent and can play both forward and defense at the pro level. With Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier’s feet firmly planted in the top two center spots, drafting a future third-line, defense-first center with size, physicality, and scoring touch is an ideal fit for the highly skilled Devils.
Danny Nelson gets @usahockey on the board!!!
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) April 30, 2023
Age: 17, Height: 6-foot-3, Weight: 194, Position: C, SHL Malmö Redhawks
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Wahlberg already has a little bit of experience playing with men. Last season, he skated with Malmo Redhawks of the SHL for 17 games and scored two goals and four points. The 6-foot-3, 194 lb forward played the majority of 2022-23 with the Redhawks J20 team scoring 14 goals and 27 points in 32 games. He projects to play at the SHL level again next season.
Wahlberg is an above-average skater for his size and can surprisingly make plays around defenders (again, for his size). There are questions about his problem-solving skills on the ice, however, he protects the puck well, utilizes his large frame, and has a quick release. In the second half of Wahlberg’s season, he really showed improvement in his development. As long as the 17-year-old Swedish forward continues to develop on his current trajectory and grow in his large frame, he has a chance, like Nelson, to be an excellent complimentary player behind Hughes and Hischier on the Devils’ third line.
Periodic reminder that Anton Wahlberg is nasty and one of my favourite players to watch out of the entire 2023 draft class
He's still pretty uncoordinated at times, but his game is going to skyrocket once he's fully adjusted to his teenage growth spurt and fills out his frame pic.twitter.com/FJyAPdlPey
— Derek Neumeier (@Derek_N_NHL) May 30, 2023
Age: 18, Height: 6-foot-4, Weight: 203, Position: LW, OHL Kingston Frontenacs
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Miedema’s draft position is a little more consistent than the previous four prospects. He projects as a third-round selection across the board. However, you can’t teach size and of all the prospects listed, he’s the largest one of the bunch. His body is NHL ready, the rest of him just needs to catch up.
Miedema will be a project, but the Devils have time to wait and he could be worth the reward. The 6-foot-4, 203 lb forward has smooth hands that allow him to beat defenders more often than not. Because he’s so large, his wing span is massive and his puckhandling benefits as a result. Miedema has a solid shot and good instincts that put him in the right position to score.
His major flaw is his skating. It’s not even below average. It’s poor. He appears slow and sluggish on the ice and can find himself behind the play. His compete doesn’t make up for it either as he’s engaged but could stand to be a little more aggressive.
Between the Windsor Spitfires and Frontenacs, Miedema scored 20 goals and 52 points in 68 games.