New Jersey Devils:Top Five Draft Classes

David HeereSenior Analyst IJuly 8, 2008

Some fans were not too happy with my previous article and how hard I was on the Devils' 2008 draft picks. I thought I would make it up my readers and write a top five Devils' drafts article.


Honorable Mention - 1996

This is definitely an odd way to start off my countdown considering not many people even remember who the Devils drafted in 1996. There is a good reason that no super star comes to mind when you think about this year’s draft because it was the year of the goon.

Scott Parker, Colin White, Willie Mitchell, and Lance Ward are the highlights of this draft class. They have a combined 2,312 PIM in only 1,495 games. All of them except Lance Ward still play in the NHL and are all known for their physical play. Lance Ward posted 212 PIM in 52 games last year playing for HV71 Jonkoping.


Honorable Mention II - 1993

This class was not quite good enough to make the top five but is still worth listing. 1993 had two players with 678 points in 1380 games between Jay Pandolfo and Brendan Morrison.  I also wanted to point out Krzysztof Oliwa was drafted this year and contributed 1447 PIM in 410 NHL games.


No. 5 - 1992

Coming in at No. 5 is the 1992 draft class. Headlining this year are defenseman Jason Smith, dearly departed Sergei Brylin, Cale Hulse, and Stephane Yelle. These players combined for 810 pts. in 3173 GP and all of them except Hulse are still in the league.


No. 4 - 1998

Mike Van Ryan, Scott Gomez, and Brian Gionta are the top players coming out of this draft.  890 points in 1377 games makes this a very impressive class. All of these players are still playing in the NHL and are still putting up impressive statistics.


No. 3 - 1982

The very first draft the franchise participated in as the New Jersey Devils. Only two players are household names from this draft class, Ken Daneyko and Pat Verbeek. The stats on these two retired players are staggering with 1241 pts. and 5421 PIM in 2707 GP. Daneyko added three Stanley Cups with the Devils and Verbeek had one with Dallas in 1999.


No. 2 - 1994

The second best class according to me was the class of 1994 which includes All-Stars Patrik Elias, Sheldon Souray, and Steve Sullivan. These three players have a combined 1401 points in 2000 games played.

They are the highest trio of points per game players of the same draft class and that is why they find their way to the silver medal. All three players are still playing in the NHL and are very important to each of their respective teams.


No. 1 - 1990

Any good Devils fan knew 1990 was coming. This was the year of the goalie including legendary Devil Martin Brodeur. Brodeur combined with other goalies Corey Schwab and Mike Dunham to play in 1509 games. This class also had defenseman Jaroslav Modry and Valeri Zelepukin who have 544 pts. in 1320 GP. Additionally, this class had the most players see some NHL playing time at 10.


There are three draft classes that are too young, but could eventually crack this list. Look for the class of 2004 draft picks of Tyler Eckford and big guy Nathan Perkovich to add to current Devil Travis Zajac’s contributions.

2006’s class features pit bull Matt Corrente, Alexander Vasyunov, Kirill Tulupov, Vladimir Zharkov, defenseman T.J. Miller, defenseman Olivier Magnan, and Tony Romano.

2007 was a small class, but it was packed with firepower in Mike Hoeffel, Matt Halischuk, Vili Sopanen, and power forward Nick Palmieri.