The NHL entry draft is a great way for teams to improve themselves. For a franchise that is searching for an identity, the New Jersey Devils are looking to do just that. However, their history of drafting has been mixed. The Devils need to look out for players that could end up like these former draft busts.
While it has been noted that this NHL Draft isn’t as deep as years past, that doesn’t mean it can be overlooked. The New Jersey Devils might end up with a steal. They also might end up with all duds. Either way, the Devils have to avoid drafting the latter or else they will end up like these players.
Jacob Josefson was a player that was hyped by everyone. Hockey experts, scouts, and even fans were excited to see Josefson join Jersey’s team. Then, like his career, it faded into memory. For the past three years, Josefson has been busy racking up more penalty minutes that points each season. He has failed to reach his potential offensively and can’t stay out of the box.
While with the Devils Josefson has found his niche as a shootout specialist. The Devils have never been too good at scoring in the shootout, and Josefson helps the team break an NHL record shootout winless streak. He developed a signature back forehand deke, which became his bread and butter.
Jacob Josefson was touted up as a potential Nicklas Backstrom while still in Sweden. He has been far from that and the Devils still search for a number one center. The Devils mistake was not giving Josefson enough time. Josefson never spent a full season in the minors and is often left to be the healthy scratch. He never developed fully, and it shows in his game.
Another first round Swedish draft pick, Tedenby impressed Devils fans in his first season that he played more that 10 games in. Tedenby used his speed to put up 22 points in 55 games and was kept on the main roster for the following season. However, his offensive production was nowhere to be found and he found himself back in Albany after 43 games. He would only play 19 more games for the main roster over the next 3 years and eventually left the team to play in his native Sweden.
Tedenby’s biggest asset was his speed. At only 175 pounds, he could fly all over the rink and avoid pesky defensemen. He also managed a good hockey sense, making smart plays. He was unable to produce much of any after a breakout season in 2010-2011.
Like Josefson, Tedenby never saw a full season in Albany. His game wasn’t given time to develop, and the Devils had another bust on their hands. Technically, New Jersey still has his NHL rights. Tedenby though, is happy playing in his native Sweden, even when he is in the penalty box.
Niclas Bergfors is a name that should ring some bells. He was part of the trade for he-who-must-not-be-named in the midst of a breakout season. However, beyond that year not much became of Nick Bergfors. What is most sad, is that out of the three players mentioned, he had a great start to his career.
In his first 106 NHL games, he scored 56 points. Compared to what other players of his caliber put up, it’s something a team would be happy with. But after one full season with soon to be Winnipeg Jets, Bergfors lost his edge. He couldn’t produce offensively and after failed stints with Florida and Nashville, he found himself where most NHL drop outs go: the KHL.
Bergfors was on his way to having a 15-20 goal season. Not to stay if he stayed with the team he would still be here today, but think about it. The Devils need all the goal scoring they can get. A 15-20 goal man is valuable to a team that lacks offense. Bergfors is proof of what time in the minors can do for a player.
Ok, ok, before everyone goes on a witch hunt, there is proof the Adam Larsson, who is playing in the playoffs and the Devils are not, is a bust.
Larsson was drafted fourth overall by the Devils in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Fans outside the Prudential Center cheered. This man had people in the streets of Newark, New Jersey cheering for him, in June. The number one overall prospect had fallen into their lap. He even scored in his first playoff game! Oh of the things to come for Adam Larsson. Like a bone-crunching hit from P.K. Subban.
The problem with Larsson is that was supposed to be a top two defenseman but at best, showed he was a top four, better suite on the second pair. His offensive numbers never really got off the ground and he found himself being outplayed by young upstart Damon Severson. His trade was a shock, considering his was on a six-year deal and that it was straight up. But overall it was the right move for the team to move toward a more offensive oriented team.
Either the Devils have bad draft luck, or they need to draft players that aren’t from Sweden.