The New Jersey Devils were busy in the first round and were able to address their needs, albeit in a somewhat strange manner.
The New Jersey Devils were one of the busiest teams during the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft.
They had three picks for the first time in franchise history, two of which were acquired from the Arizona Coyotes and the Vancouver Canucks/Tampa Bay Lightning.
No. 7 — Alexander Holtz
With their first pick, the seventh overall, the Devils selected Alexander Holtz, a right-winger from Sweden. He’s 18 years old and impressed greatly as a teenager playing in the SHL.
Holtz is praised for having one of the best shots in his entire draft class and was compared to Filip Forsberg, a good goal scorer, of the Nashville Predators by the NBCSN crew.
The best way to describe Holtz is as a sniper, which is exactly what the Devils need. The Devils were one of the worst teams in the league last season and a big reason why was the fact that they received almost no scoring from the wings.
The front office identified this problem and believe Holtz is part of the solution. During the 2019-20 season for Djurgarden of the SHL, he recorded 16 points in 35 games (nine goals and seven assists).
Those 16 points led all players under the age of 18.
In three games for Djurgårdens IF J20, he recorded a jaw-dropping nine points, coming in the form of seven goals and two assists.
No. 18 — Dawson Mercer
The soon-to-be 19-year-old from Newfoundland brings versatility to the Devils — he can serve as both a center and right-winger. Mercer is projected to be a middle-six player for the Devils.
In 42 games in 2019-20 for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL, Mercer had 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists).
Mercer’s most glaring weakness is his skating ability, which is what prevents many scouts and analysts from considering him to be a top-six forward.
No. 20 — Shakir Mukhamadullin
With their last pick of the first round, the 20th overall, the Devils took Shakir Mukhamadullin, a left-handed defenseman from Russia.
He made his KHL debut in 2019-20 with Salavat Yulaev. He’s a good skater and a solid playmaker. He’s physical and also has a strong, powerful shot.
However, this may have been the most puzzling selection of the first round.
Mukhamadullin has ranked anywhere between 50th and 106th on the vast majority of sites. Mukhamadullin would likely have been available later and the Devils could’ve traded down to select him.
They do need help on the defensive end but he’s a high-risk, high-reward pick. He also isn’t a particularly productive player, scoring just one point in 27 games last year.
The Devils will hope that won’t be the norm for him and that he’ll be able to add an offensive aspect to his game.