Devils Draft Review

The Devils started their rebuilding process under general manager Ray Shero with seven picks on the draft.

To start off the New Jersey Devils selected center Pavel Zacha (Sarnia, OHL) with the sixth overall selection of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Zacha recorded 16g-18a-34pts and 56 PIM in 37 appearances and was named to the OHL’s First All-Rookie Team during his first season in North America. He ranked second among Sarnia’s skaters with six power play goals and was fourth (tie) in overall goal scoring despite missing 31 games. Zacha registered a career-high 1g-2a-3pts and was +5 in a 9-2 victory over Windsor on October 11. The 6-3, 210-lb. center posted 7g-9a-16pts in the season’s first 16 contests, including a six-game scoring streak from October 10-24 (5g-4a-9pts). Zacha added 2g-1a-3pts in five post-season matches.
Prior to the start of the second round, the Devils acquired forward Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks for Florida’s second-round selection (41st overall, previously acquired in Jaromir Jagr trade, February 26, 2015) in the 2015 Entry Draft and New Jersey’s option of Florida or Minnesota’s (acquired by Florida) third-round selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
The Devils also traded their second round selection (36th overall) to the Senators for the 42nd overall pick in 2015 and Ottawa’s third-round choice in 2016.
Notes and Scouting Report from
Pavel Zacha

• In his first season in North America, Zacha registered nearly a point-per-game in 2014-15, finishing with 34 points (16g-18a) in 37 games for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.

• Zacha played 38 games for Liberec in the Czech Republic’s top League in 2013-14, where he was mentored by former NHL player Petr Nedved. Nedved, who was selected second overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 1990 and skated in 982 career NHL games, helped prepare Zacha for his transition to North America.

• Internationally, Zacha represented the Czech Republic on the Under-16 team as a 14-year old in 2011, and skated for both the Under-17 and Under-18 squads the following year as a 15-year old. He has represented his country twice at the Under-18 World Junior Championship, earning a silver medal in 2014 with 3g-2a-5pts in seven games. He also participated in the World Junior Championship on two occasions (2014, 2015).

• Zacha has picked up the English language quickly by watching and reciting subtitled versions of his favorite movies, including Dumb and Dumber.

NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards:
“He’s got high-end skill and is an excellent competitor; he plays an excellent two-way game. He’s physical and solid on his skates and can separate guys from the puck.”


Day Two Picks
Mackenzie Blackwood
Barrie (OHL)
2nd Round, 42nd overall (from Ottawa)
Goaltender · 6-4 · 215 lbs
Catches: Left
Born: December 9, 1996 in Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Was ranked as the number one North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting.
  • Is the 29th goaltender to ever be drafted by the Devils and first since Anthony Brodeur (7th round, 2013).
  • Is the first goaltender selected by New Jersey in the first or second round since Jeff Frazee (38th overall, 2005).
  • Teammates with Barrie included Devils’ prospect Joseph Blandisi.
  • Finished with the fourth-most wins in the OHL in 2014-15, posting a 33-14-2 record with two shutouts, a 3.09 goals-against average, .906 save percentage 51 appearances.
  • Was 21-4-0 from December 4-February 14.
  • Named OHL Goaltender of the Month for December; was 10-1-0 with one shutout, a 1.73 GAA & .944 save %.
  • Also named OHL Player of the Week for the period ending January 4 after posting a 5-0-0 record with one shutout, a 1.60 GAA & .946 save %.
  • In two seasons with the Colts, is 56-29-2 with three shutouts, 3.04 GAA and .904 save % in 96 games played.
  • Is 10-8 with one shutout, 2.75 GAA & .915 save % in 19 career OHL playoff contests.
Notes and Scouting Report from

• For the second consecutive season, Blackwood’s numbers improved in the postseason (2.88 GAA, .922 save %) before Barrie fell to North Bay in the second round of the OHL playoffs.

• In his rookie season with the Colts, Blackwood was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team after going 23-15-2 with a 2.98 goals-against average, .902 save-percentage and one shutout in 45 appearances. In 10 playoff games that season, he improved on his regular-season numbers with a 2.61 goals-against average and .904 save-percentage, helping Barrie advance to the second round.

• He became a goaltender by chance, when at age 12 the netminder on his local minor hockey team missed some time and Blackwood filled in. According to Blackwood: “Before I knew it, I was right there with goalies that had been doing it three, four or five years before I had started.”

• A large, quick goaltender, Blackwood compares his game to Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Mike Smith of the Arizona Coyotes. His favorite NHL player is Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.

NHL Central Scouting’s Al Jensen:
“He takes a calm and relaxed approach and has excellent positional play. He has a butterfly style with great low net coverage and controlled lateral movements.”
Blake Speers
Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
3rd Round, 67th overall
Center · 5-11 · 180 lbs
Shoots: Right
Born: January 2, 1997 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
  • Is New Jersey’s third-ever selection from Sault Ste. Marie, joining Steve Sullivan (9th round/1994) & Jeff Toms (9th round/1992).
  • Finished with 24g-43a-67pts in his second OHL season, including 4g-9a-13pts on a seven-game point streak to start the campaign.
  • Served as alternate captain and helped the Greyhounds capture the Hamilton Spectator Trophy as top team in the regular season for the first time in 30 years.
  • Recorded 18 multiple-point games, including first career hat trick December 14 vs. Windsor.
  • Added 3g-6a-9pts in 14 playoff games.
Notes and Scouting Report from
• Playing the majority of his rookie season as a 16-year-old, Speers ranked fifth among OHL rookies with 40 points (19g-21a) in 62 games in 2013-14.
• He represented Team Ontario at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, collecting four points (1g-3a) in five games.
• In 2012-13, Speers captained the Soo Thunder Minor Midget AAA team and paced the club with 113 points (43g-70a) in 61 games.
• Speers, a Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native who frequented Greyhounds games with his father, was selected by the club in the first round (11th overall) in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection. He became the first local player drafted by the club in the opening round since 2002 (Tyler Kennedy).
• His aunt, Sharon Speers, played field hockey at both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
Colton White
Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
4th Round, 97th overall
Defensman · 6-0 · 180 lbs
Shoots: Left
Born: May 3, 1997 in London, Ontario
  • At 97th overall, White’s selection is the latest the Devils have waited to draft a defenseman since 2004: Alexander Mikhailishin, Devils’ 2nd choice (5th round), 155th overall.
  • Posted 6g-16a-22pts, 38 PIM and a +38 mark in 67 games during second OHL season.
  • Had 0g-5a-5pts, with two PIM and a +10 rating in 57 appearances during 2013-14 campaign.
  • Games played total in 2014-15 was tops among the team’s defensemen (tie).
  • Totaled 0g-3a-3pts and is +4 in 23 career OHL playoff contests
Brett Seney
Merrimack (Hockey East)
6th Round, 157th overall
Left Wing · 5-9 · 155 lbs
Shoots: Left
Born: February 28, 1996 in London, Ontario
  • Is the first player from Merrimack ever selected by New Jersey.
  • Recorded 11g-15a-26pts & 55 PIM in 34 games played during his freshman season; led the Warriors in both points and assists.
  • Also posted a team-best +3 mark.
  • Named Hockey East Rookie of the Week for the period ending January 19.
  • Recorded back-to-back 2pt. performances with 1g-1a-2pts January 16 vs. #12 Quinnipiac & 2a January 17 at #12 Quinnipiac. Scored GWG in both contests.
  • Also netted game-winner in 3-2 win at #8 Minnesota on January 2.
  • Played two seasons with Kingston Voyageurs (OJHL)
  • Ranked second on club in scoring with 26g-43a-69pts in 2013-14. Was named OJHL First Team All-Prospect and to the league’s Second All-Star Team.
  • Also spent two years with London Jr. Knights (AHMMPL)


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