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Devils to keep ’13 first-rounder, forfeit ’14 pick

Apr 29, 2013, 2:32 PM EDT

Lou Lamoriello Getty Images

Hours prior to the first-ever NHL Draft Lottery — in which all participants have a shot at the No. 1 pick –  the Devils announced they’re keeping their first-rounder.

On Monday, New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello confirmed the organization will participate in the opening round of 2013 NHL Entry Draft which, of course, will be held in Newark, N.J. on June 30.

That decision means the Devils’ 2014 first-round selection will be forfeited, as per a salary cap circumvention penalty for signing Ilya Kovalchuk.

The penalty was announced in Sept. 2010 ($3 million, 2011 third-round pick, future first-rounder) with the understanding it was up to the Devils to decide which year — ’11, ’12, ’13 or ’14 — they’d give up the 1st.

The club opted to hold onto its 2011 first-rounder (selecting Adam Larsson) and, curiously, also decided to keep their 2012 first-rounder — the 29th overall pick, with which they took Stefan Matteau.

Why curious? Consider this take from Yahoo!’s Neate Sager:

The franchise, which was stripped of a first-rounder after the NHL ruled it circumvented the salary cap while signing Ilya Kovalchuk, was widely questioned for even using its first-rounder in 2012.

What was the point of hanging on to second-last pick of the first round in a weak draft year, then rushing him to the NHL to perform in spot duty, disrupting a crucial development season?

Taking Matteau also painted the Devils into a corner where they likely going to have to give up their first-rounder in the fecund 2014 draft.

Missing out on a possible shot at an elite youngster such as the Barrie Colts’ Aaron Ekblad, Kootenay Ice’s Sam Reinhart or Kingston Frontenacs’ Roland McKeown is a hefty price to pay to take a player who seems to be struggling with some maturity issues.

The draft lottery will be held tonight (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN), and the Devils hold a 2.7 percent chance of capturing the first overall selection.

Florida (25 percent), Colorado (18.8) and Tampa Bay (14.2) hold the highest odds.

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