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Devils strangely opt to keep this year’s first rounder

Jun 12, 2012, 10:18 PM EDT

Lou Lamoriello Getty Images

As a punishment for Ilya Kovalchuk‘s first, failed “lifetime” contract, the NHL fined the New Jersey Devils and required GM Lou Lamoriello to give up a first rounder within four years.* It was reasonable for the Devils to keep their 2011 pick since they didn’t make the playoffs, yet the hockey world raised its collective eyebrows when Tom Gulitti pointed out that they won’t give up their 2012 pick either.

Now they’re left with a simple choice: give it up in 2013 or 2014.

That might not sound like a big deal, but chew on this: the Devils will make the second-lowest pick (29th out of 30) this year because they made it to the Stanley Cup finals. On face value, this is an extremely strange decision. Technically speaking, the Devils would need to win the Stanley Cup in 2013 or 2014 to give up a “weaker” pick.

On the other hand, the Devils might just view the 2012 NHL Draft has an especially deep one. Could pick No. 29 in 2012 be better than even a mid-range one in 2013 or 2014?

Perhaps that’s the argument Lamoriello would make. Then again, maybe he’s just smoldering over that Steve Bernier call and Jarret Stoll non-call. (The Kings PR staff would joke that he was just slow to get the e-mail out, though.)

What do you think about this seemingly odd choice?

* They also gave up a third-round pick in 2011 and paid a $3 million fine. That’s called making an example of someone, folks.

  1. phillyphever - Jun 12, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    “What do you think about this seemingly odd choice?”

    Depends. Personally, he’s gonna kick himself for not giving up this chance to serve his punishment.

  2. stakex - Jun 12, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Hmm that seems a bit strange. Perhaps they have someone they really want to draft this year, or they have plans to make a big deal and need their 1st round pick to work with?

  3. sergeikremlin - Jun 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    With basically half of the team coming off the books this year and $28M in cap space heading into the summer, I think the Devils want to keep all of the assets they have to retool the squad for another cup run. They are certainly interested in Rick Nash, along with everyone else, and potentially moving up in the 1st-round as well.

    Or Lamarello is just stubborn and bitter, and won’t give up his pick until 2014 regardless.

  4. t16rich - Jun 12, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    Seems odd, and probally wrong at this point. But my guess is their scouts are predicting this draft to be deeper than the next 2 will be. And the Devils are going to expect to be a contender the next 2 years, which would put them low in the draft any way. So if their scouts think this draft is pretty deep, you can’t knock the decision. You hire scouts for a reason.

  5. bleed4philly - Jun 12, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    They’re going to trade that pick.

  6. bcjim - Jun 12, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    Agree that they must have a draftee in mind who they are sure is going to be there. Or they have a solid deal set up to trade the pick.

  7. quizguy66 - Jun 13, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    Could very well be that if this draft is so deep, Lou trades back and picks up a 1st/2nd rounder in 2014 softening the blow of losing that pick.

    Also could be as simple as the old maxim that a first-rounder this year is always worth more than a 1st-rounder 2 years from now. Lots of NFL trades operate on this premise.

    -QG

  8. jjpileggi - Jun 13, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    Second guessing old Lou is probably not a good percentage move. He knows what he is doing and I would bet this works out for the Devils.

    John Pileggi

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