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New Jersey Devils: What About Valeri Nichushkin?

June 2, 2013, 11:22 AM ET [82 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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The New Jersey Devils host the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in less than a month, and they'll undoubtedly want to make a splash for the hometown fans in hopes to get better.

In this year's draft class, there are probably 10 players, give or take a couple, who could step into the NHL next season for their respective teams.

Should the Devils stand pat and select a player with the 9th overall pick, they could get an NHL-ready player if they play their cards right.

But what about moving up and getting a sure fire NHLer? Someone who can play in the NHL next season and not just earn a roster spot, but play a big role and produce. Would it be worth the price? Probably not, if you're hoping for a top-3 pick to land Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones or Jonathan Drouin.

If the Devils try and move up to 4th or 5th overall with the hopes of landing Valeri Nicushkin, well, that's another story.

Nichushkin has said he wants to play in the NHL next season and if he doesn't make an NHL roster he'll stay in Russia next year. No AHL for him. That's fine, though, as Nichushkin is among the most NHL-ready players in the draft.

He's a big body who can flat out skate and is a player with dynamic offensive abilities.

Nichushkin could step right into the Devils lineup and play right away. He'd be a great fit on the team as he would add to a pretty mediocre offensive attack and would add some much needed dynamic ability. He could be the guy the Devils need to put opposite side of Ilya Kovalchuk to open things up.

Now what would the cost be? It'd be pricey, but likely nowhere near the price of trying to land a top-2 or top-3 pick.

The 9th overall pick would obviously have to go the other way. Depending on the team, a good young forward/defenseman or prospect would have to go the other way, as well.

Let's say MacKinnon, Jones, Drouin and Aleksander Barkov go top-4, in no particular order, and Nichushkin is there when the Carolina Hurricanes pick 5th overall.

Would they have interest in the 9th overall pick, a young forward like Jacob Josefson or Stefan Matteau, and a solid defense prospect like Eric Gelinas? Depending on how they value those players, it could be enough. The pot might need to be sweetened a bit, but if the Devils have an opportunity to add a player like Nichushkin in front of the home crowd, they have to do it.

Not just to make noise. But to make a splash that could dramatically improve the team's future.

**

In case you missed it, my story on Matt Shaw leaving and what it means for the Devils.

I posted a scouting report on draft eligible forward, Jimmy Lodge, at TheHockeyGuys. You can view the report here.

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