2013 NHL Draft: Re-Grading New Jersey Devils' Last 5 First-Round Draft Picks

Joseph KuchieCorrespondent IJune 26, 2013

2013 NHL Draft: Re-Grading New Jersey Devils' Last 5 First-Round Draft Picks

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    It's officially less than a week before the draft, and owners and scouts from around the NHL are getting ready to head to New Jersey to make their picks on June 30.

    By now you know the New Jersey Devils hold the No. 9 pick in this year's draft, and all signs point to the hosts of the draft selecting an offensive forward with their first-round pick.

    This will be the second time in three years that the Devils hold a Top 10 pick, drafting defenseman Adam Larsson with the fourth overall pick in 2011.

    New Jersey has had a first round pick in every draft dating back to 2003 except for 2007 and 2010. The Devils will forfeit next year's first round draft pick because of the Ilya Kovalchuk contract saga, meaning this year's pick has a bit more importance.

    An impressive statistic is that the past four Devils first-round draft picks saw ice time at the NHL level last season, including last year's No. 29 pick Stefan Matteau.

    Let's take a look at some of the Devils most recent first-rounders and give each a grade.

2006: Matthew Corrente

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    GRADE: C

    In 2006, the Devils used the 30th overall pick on Matthew Corrente, a defenseman from the OHL's Niagara IceDogs (traded from the Saginaw Spirit).

    A year after being drafted, The Hockey News ranked Corrente as the organization's top defensive prospect and third overall prospect behind Nick Bergfors and Jeff Frazee (ouch).

    Since making his debut in 2009, Corrente has only appeared in 34 games and has only recorded six points, all during the 2010-2011 season. He did appear in two playoff games against Philadelphia during the 2009 NHL playoffs, but failed to record a point.

    Corrente has struggled with injuries since being drafted in 2006, missing extended time due to broken hand and a shoulder injury during the 2010-2011 season and again last season with another shoulder injury.

    The prospect is still only 25 years old, so there is still time for him to progress and make the NHL roster at a more consistent basis. However, his injuries have allowed other defensemen like Eric Gelinas and Alex Urbom to jump over him and see time with the Devils.

    For now I'll give him a C, but there is still room for improvement if he can stay on the ice.

2008: Mattias Tedenby

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    GRADE: C+

    Ah, the curious case of Mattias Tedenby.

    After not having a first-round pick in 2007, the Devils selected forward Mattias Tedenby out of Sweden with the 24th overall pick in 2008.

    Tedenby has played in more games for the Devils than any first round pick dating back to 2004. However, despite playing in 105 games at the NHL level, he has also seen time in the AHL every season dating back to his draft year.

    Overall, Tedenby has recorded 29 points in his 105 games so he has not been a failure by any means, but the guy needs to find a way to be completely consistent for one full season. Not playing up to par for three consecutive seasons doesn't do much for your career.

    Despite his struggles, the Devils and GM Lou Lamoriello gave Tedenby a new one-way, one-year contract for 2013-2014, so expect him to get a shot at the opening night roster again next season. However, the one-way contract means being sent down will place him on waivers, so another disappointing season will not be acceptable.

    Tedenby gets a higher grade than Corrente because of his NHL experience, but until he puts in a full season with the Devils, he doesn't break that grade.

2009: Jacob Josefson

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    Grade: B-

    One year after selecting Tedenby in the first round, the Devils took fellow Swede Jacob Josefson with the 20th pick in the 2009 NHL draft.

    Josefson drew comparisons to centers like Nick Backstrom and John Madden going into the draft and the Devils traded up three spots to take the two-way forward. He made his NHL debut in 2010 and has recorded 22 points in 91 career games.

    However, like Corrente, Josefson has battled the injury bug over the course of his career, suffering three different injuries in two seasons with the Devils.

    Despite having a successful run toward the end of the 2011-2012 season and six quality playoff games during the team's Cup run, Josefson struggled in 2013 and forced New Jersey to send him to the AHL for a short time.

    If you're going to compare these five first-round picks, Josefson has one of the brightest futures offensively. However, the only way he is going to get anywhere is if he stops being a piece of glass and turns into a healthy, reliable center.

    It was reported by Pro Hockey Magazine's Linus Hugosson that Josefson received a qualifying offer from the Devils on Tuesday, which will allow them rights to negotiate a new contract for next season rather then become a free agent.

    Per agent, Jacob Josefson got his qualifying offer by the #njdevils today.

    — Linus Hugosson (@linushugosson) June 25, 2013

    It is clear the organization believes in him and will likely try to get him a respectable contract for next year. However, like the other prospects, Josefson needs to get a full, successful year under his belt in order for him to prove he belongs in New Jersey long-term.

    Based on his success in the 2012 playoffs, I think Josefson showed that he has what it takes. A bad season in a lockout year shouldn't be looked into too much, but the 2013-2014 season will show exactly what Josefson can bring in the future.

2011: Adam Larsson

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    GRADE: A-

    When the Devils selected Adam Larsson with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, he became New Jersey's highest selected prospect since Scott Niedermayer went number three in 1991.

    It's fitting that Niedermayer and Larsson are tied together considering the similarities I've seen between the two defensemen so far in Larsson's young career.

    While Larsson has not put up the numbers that Niedermayer did in his first two years, the 20-year-old Swede has the potential to bring scoring to the blue line that has been lacking over the past five or so years.

    He proved himself enough to make the opening night roster in 2011, but an injury suffered in February 2012 sidelined him and ultimately cost him his starting job heading into the playoffs. When he did return to the lineup, however, he was able to put on a solid performance in five postseason games.

    Last year was much of the same, as head coach Pete DeBoer chose to sit Larsson for 11 games while starting struggling veterans like Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky. When he was on the ice he recorded six points and a plus-four rating.

    The story for the Devils has been the same for years: get younger on defense. With prospects like Alex Urbom, Eric Gelinas, and Jon Merrill on their way up, Larsson will likely be the anchor that holds together the future of the defensive core in New Jersey.

    Despite his lack of play, I think Larsson deserves the A- I'm giving him after two years in the NHL. Lou Lamoriello took him at the right time considering the aging problem New Jersey has on defense, and given the chance Larsson could turn into a potential 1-2 d-man for the Devils.

    With Zidlicky likely hitting the market this offseason, Larsson will get a shot at a full season of playing time and will likely prove to everyone why he was the No. 4 pick in 2011.

2012: Stefan Matteau

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    GRADE: TBD

    Despite only having 17 NHL games under his belt, Stefan Matteau has made a number of headlines since being drafted No. 29 by the Devils last season.

    He is infamously known as the son of Stephane Matteau, the former New York Rangers forward that sent the Devils packing in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. The stories and comparisons that came out of their relation filled the first round of the Draft.

    Like Larsson the year before, Matteau made the opening night roster once the lockout came to an end. He went on to score one goal and record two assists in 17 games with the Devils before being sent to Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL to finish the season.

    However, the story lines picked up when he went back to juniors.

    Matteau reportedly quit on his junior team after not receiving enough playing time during their playoff series with Baie-Comeau, and the team released him after the incident occurred. It is not the first time he's had run in with the organization's management which included his father Stephane.

    Lou Lamoriello was asked about Matteau and reassured the media that Matteau would get a chance to play in the AHL next season despite the incident. He did, however, express his disappointment in the team's latest first-round pick.

    "You never like to hear something like this. I support the junior team in doing what they think is right," Lamoriello told Pro Hockey Talk. "[Matteau's] options for next season are the same as they would have been this season."

    Maturity is something that Matteau will have to work on, but it is understandable to have pressure riding on an 19-year-old after the first year he had in the league. I would like to see Matteau play in Albany for a full season before he comes back to the NHL level, but the Devils' forward depth isn't strong and he may see time in Newark sooner than later.

    It's hard to grade Matteau considering we haven't seen much of him and the drama that has followed him around in 2013. We'll have to take another look at him next offseason to decide how this draft pick worked out.