Well, it happened again. The New Jersey Devils got lucky at the draft lottery and will have another top pick at the NHL Entry Draft. They won the draft lottery in 2017 and 2019 and selected first overall in each draft, taking Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes with the first picks. This time, they will choose second overall behind the Montreal Canadiens, who will have the first pick in front of the home crowd at the Bell Center in Montreal on July 7. 

Barring something unforeseen, Shane Wright will be a Montreal Canadien come July 7. So, where does that leave the Devils? Here are five prospects general manager Tom Fitzgerald could target with the second overall selection. 


Šimon Nemec

Position: Defenseman

Team: HK Nitra (Slovakia)

  • Counting totals: 1 goal, 26 points in 39 games; 5 goals, 17 points in 19 playoff games

Nemec is one of the top defensive prospects in this draft class. His offensive ability stands out, and he’s a smooth skater. While the Slovak league isn’t great, there’s no ignoring the point totals he put up as a 17-year-old in a pro league. As Byron Bader of Hockey Prospecting puts it, Nemec is a statistical unicorn:

Nemec has a high floor and should be no worse than a second-pair defender. But if he pops, he could be a high-end top-pair blueliner. His NHLe, despite the Slovak league being one of the weaker ones in Europe, does paint a portrait of a prospect with tremendous upside. 


Why Devils Should Consider Nemec

The Devils have Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Graves, Damon Severson and Jonas Siegenthaler leading the top-four in 2022-23. However, Graves and Severson are both entering the final years of their contracts. If they don’t retain one of them, the Devils suddenly have a long-term void to fill. 

Along with Luke Hughes, Shakir Mukhamadullin, Kevin Bahl, Reilly Walsh and Ty Smith, Nemec could round out the Devils’ top-six defenders for the next decade. He might not be their first or even second choice with the second pick, but he is someone they should debate about during their draft prep.  


Logan Cooley

Position: Center

Team: USNTDP Juniors (USHL), US National U18 Team (USDP)

  • Counting totals: 27 goals, 75 points in 51 games (USHL); 13 goals, 36 points in 24 games (USDP)

Cooley is a complete package. He’s solid two ways, is a very good skater, and has high-end playmaking ability. Here’s what our very own Matthew Zator had to say about Cooley in his draft profile:

“Cooley has the potential to be a high-scoring two-way center who can play both the power play and penalty kill and be matched up against the top lines in the NHL. At 5-foot-10, he might not be as impactful physically as Aleksander Barkov or Jonathan Toews, who are 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-2 respectively, but his hockey sense and elusive nature will make him effective nonetheless.”