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On the Devils' coaching staff departures and a few draft thoughts

June 18, 2018, 10:52 AM ET [39 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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On coaching moves

Less than three weeks after losing Geoff Ward to the Calgary Flames, another assistant has left the New Jersey Devils.

This time it's Ryane Clowe, who has taken a job with the Newfoundland Growlers – the Toronto Maple Leafs' new ECHL affiliate.

While generally you don't see two assistants willingly walk away from a playoff team, I don't think too much should be read into it.

The Flames were desperate for someone to help successfully run their power play. At times Ward has taken a beating in the online community but, in terms of goals/60, he managed to run two top-11 power plays in three years with the Devils. The Flames rightfully felt he was an upgrade over Dave Cameron and really sought him out. It's tough to turn down a gig in your home country, especially when you have several elite players to work with.

Clowe leaving for Newfoundland seems like even more of a no brainer. He's really serious about coaching and he's getting an opportunity to run his own bench. If that's not attractive enough, he gets to do so in his hometown.

Moving from the NHL to ECHL may seem like a lateral step – especially financially – but the Leafs are swimming in money and undoubtedly had no issue making it worth Clowe's while to jump ship.

I'm really curious to see how John Hynes and co. round out their staff. A lot of guys have already been scooped up.

Draft thoughts

1) I know a lot of people are hoping Vitali Kravtsov is there for the Devils at 17. I'm in the same boat. I think it's very unlikely, though. It feels like Kravtsov is a sneaky candidate to go in the top-10. There's no questioning his talent or upside and he opened up a lot of eyes with a strong playoff run in which he finished 3rd on Traktor in scoring. I can't see him slipping that far.

2) Barrett Hayton was long projected to go in the 15-20 range. I'd be surprised if that happens. Teams are always looking for centers and, well, this is a very thin crop up top. Somebody is going to play the need card and take him. I think he could go as high as 10th to Edmonton which, to me, would be an overdraft – and I like Hayton.

3) I think it's likely one of Grigori Denisenko or Rasmus Kupari is there for the taking at 17. If that's the case, I put the need for defense help, or more draft capital, aside and make the pick. I prefer Denisenko – like Kupari, he's very talented but a better decision maker – although I'd be very happy with either. I want players with high upside. Get as much talent as possible and worry about positional needs later. If you have a lot of talent in one area, you can always use that to plug holes elsewhere.

4) If Kravtsov, Denisenko, Kupari and Ty Smith are all off the board at 17, I'd look to move down into the 20s. Pick up a 2nd or 3rd and then grab one of the many talented defenders (Rasmus Sandin, K'Andre Miller, Calen Addison, Nicolas Beaudin, etc.) with the later 1st. By that point the high ceiling forwards should be scooped up so you can fill a need while feeling comfortable you didn't leave a better talent on the table to do so.

5) There's no questioning Ryan Merkley's offensive capabilities but I think it's possible, if not likely, he slips out of the 1st round. His defensive game needs a *ton* of work and the off-ice issues are a concern as well. I know plenty of teams have him on their no-draft list.

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