GM Corey Chernuka had a brief press conference to update reporters on the New Jersey Devils’ Dispersal Draft picks to date.
At the approximate half-way mark of the BEARD Hockey Dispersal Draft, the majority of teams have most of their pro rosters sorted out. While there is still some time for tinkering, fans have a good idea of what their teams will look like going into their inaugural season.
New Jersey Devils GM Corey Chernuka recently held a press availability to update reporters on their Dispersal Draft picks to date, and give fans a “behind the scenes look” at the reasoning for the picks:
“We are quite pleased with how the team is coming together so far," said Chernuka. "For the most part we were able to keep to our plan that we had going into the draft. With this being our first Dispersal Draft in the cap era, there were certain nuances that came to light as the draft progressed resulting in us needing to make specific adjustments.
"Just because you are targeting a specific player, or a group of players and they happen to be available at a specific pick, doesn’t necessarily mean that you just take them at that spot in the draft."
"We created an algorithm that ranked players based on their skill level via analytics, by position, considering salary and term," continued Chernuka. "We also carved out the available salary cap by position and line so that we knew ahead of time how much money we would allocate and where. Saving in one area allowed us to spend more in another, but we always needed to be cognitive of the cap."
We also wanted to ensure that we weren’t tight up to the cap and allow us the flexibility to tinker if necessary as the season progressed. Our total cap going into the season with all roster positions accounted for is $67 million, leaving us with $8 million in cap space. Our goal is clear - we intend on contending for the Cup immediately, but we also need to keep an eye on next year and beyond to ensure that we can stay competitive."
"Going into the draft, we put specific emphasis on the goaltending position. In net we were extremely pleased to grab our top ranked goaltender, Darcy Kuemper, with our 2nd round pick. We were hoping that the future Vezina candidate would drop to the 2nd round and that we would be able to take advantage of the 4-year contract bonus awarded to all players picked in the top 2 rounds."
"Darcy is in the prime of his career and has our goaltending locked in for years to come. While Darcy will get the lion's share of the starts, we also grabbed Aaron Dell, who is a very competent backup, and was ranked extremely high in our algorithm in his salary category."
"Undoubtedly, one of the most important positions is center. Jonathan Toews, Adam Henrique, Nick Bonino, and Mikko Koivu give us four experienced centers who are faceoff aces, and can anchor our special teams for years to come. These four should give one of the best center positions in the league."
"On the wing, we tried to incorporate a mix of youth and veterans, largely on budget contracts with specific skill sets to compliment the centers that they would be playing around. We see Brad Marchand and Oliver Bjorkstrand getting first-line minutes with center Jonathan Toews. Robby Fabbri and Illya Mikheyev will round out a second scoring line with Adam Henrique. Andrew Copp and Matt Calvert will be tasked with being a shutdown line with Nick Bonino. Finally, Pat Maroon and Josh Leivo will be wingmen for Mikko Koivu on the 4th line."
"On defense, we went with a mix of youth and vets to compliment each other. Even though not all are sexy names, our algorithm had them all ranked highly. Mattias Ekholm and Keith Yandle will anchor the 1st defensive pair. Young Ethan Bear and Adam Pelech will lock down the 2nd pair. Finally, Kris Russell and Dennis Gilbert will hold down the 3rd pair."
"We were super excited to snag the Prospect Package #20 in the 9th round. The package is defensive prospect heavy, featuring 20-year old K’Andre Miller, taken 22nd overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and averaging 0.5 points/game in the NCAA last year."
"Matthew Robertson, age 19, taken 49th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, averaged 0.78 points/game in the WHL last year. Nils Lundqvist, age 20, taken 28th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, averaged 0.68 points/game in the SHL last year. Zachary Jones, age 19, taken 68th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, averaged 0.71 points/game."
"There are also a number of great forward prospects too. We hope to see a number of these players developing in our farm later this year."
"As mentioned before, our goal was to create something sustainable for multiple years. This is why we only have one UFA contract (Adam Henrique) and one RFA contract (Ethan Bear). We specifically prioritized non-expiring contracts."
"While the pro team is largely set, we still have substantial work to do to round out our farm team and ensure we have proper depth at all positions when the inevitable injury bug strikes.
Thanks for your time and Happy Thanksgiving!”