Devils make biggest move at 2013 NHL Entry Draft
While questions swirl about the financial state of the franchise, the New Jersey Devils solidified their goaltending for the foreseeable future.
The Devils made the biggest splash at Sunday’s Entry Draft by acquiring goaltender Cory Schneider from Vancouver for the ninth overall pick. The announcement, made by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, was received with raucous applause from the mostly Devils-crowd at the Prudential Center.
“I think we’re getting a goaltender not only of the present but of the future,” Team President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello said when he met with reporters. “Certainly Marty is at a point where he can’t play the way he played, as far as the number of games he played. This young man has proven to be a No. 1 goaltender. We feel great about it. I’ve spoken to him and he’s just excited to come here and work with Marty.
By landing Schneider, the Devils have the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur in goal.
The 27-year-old Schneider has a career record of 55-26-0 with a 2.20 goals against average, .927 save percentage and eight shutouts. In 30 games this season, he compiled a 17-9-4 mark with five shutouts, .922 save percentage and a 2.11 goals against average.
“I’m really excited to be coming to New Jersey,” Schneider told the Devils official website. He said that a reporter from TSN had tipped him off to the trade, then he received phone calls from Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis and Lamoriello.
“It happened pretty quickly, but it’s great to get this opportunity,” Schneider said.
The trade ends a three year saga in which every save he and Roberto Luongo made became a referendum on their worthiness to be the top goaltender in Vancouver. Now, Schneider enters a situation where the top job will be his sooner rather than later. The Devils entered the draft with Martin Brodeur  and Johan Hedberg  as their top two goaltenders.
Lamoriello said he will speak with Hedberg, who appears to be the odd man out in goal. Lamoriello added that Brodeur will enter the 2013-14 season as the Devils’ No. 1 goaltender.
“It’s something that’s been going on for a while now,” Schneider said. “Roberto and I, we’ve worked well through it. We’ve been friends and we’ve been in touch, actually, the past few days. From a teammate standpoint, or a former teammate now, I’m just hoping that he ends up in a good place so that he can end up back in Vancouver and be successful.
“It’s good to have some closure one way or another. Again, I said I wasn’t expecting to get traded, but we always knew it was a possibility and that’s how it happened. But it’s exciting to get a new opportunity and join a new organization.”
The Devils were not the only locals to make a deal Sunday, as both the Rangers and Islanders made trades with Minnesota. The Rangers acquired 24-year old defenseman Justin Falk while the Islanders added gritty forward Cal Clutterbuck.
To land Clutterbuck, the Islanders traded Nino Niederreiter and the 70th pick in the draft. A right wing, Clutterbuck finished the 2013 regular season with 10 points in 42 games. His 155 hits were tied for eighth most in the league.
“We got a good young player that’s established in the NHL,” Islanders GM Garth Snow said. “We love the element of grit. Obviously he’s had success putting the puck in the net and creating offense. For us, it’s immediate help and we’re happy about the trade.
“[Clutterbuck is] a quality player who fills a need that we have. Have to give up something to get something.”
Falk, 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, has 15 points and 100 penalty minutes in 108 regular season games. The Rangers sent Minnesota their 2014 sixth round pick and Benn Ferriero in the deal.
“I do,” Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark said when asked if he viewed Falk as a top six defenseman. “We really haven’t had a seventh and eighth [defenseman] that when we’ve had injuries could move up and play in those positions. That’s what I think he can do.”
Of course, the draft was not solely about established NHLers relocating. The league’s 30 franchises restocked their cupboards with the best young hockey players in the world.
The Avalanche took Nathan McKinnon with the first overall pick. Alexsander Barkov went second to the Florida Panthers. He was followed by Jonathan Drouin [Tampa Bay], Seth Jones [Nashville], Elias Lindholm [Carolina], Sean Monahan [Calgary], Darnell Nurse [Edmonton], Rasmus Ristolainen [Buffalo], Bo Horvat [Vancouver] and Valeri Nichushkin [Dallas].
The Devils took defenseman Steven Santini in the second round. He was followed by center Ryan Kujawinski, left wings Miles Wood and Myles Bell, and goaltender Anthony Brodeur, the son of the Devils’ future Hall of Fame netminder, who made the draft announcement.
The Islanders took defenseman Ryan Pulock with the 15th overall pick. Goaltender Eamon McAdam, center Taylor Cammarata, goaltender Stephon Williams, center Viktor Crus Rydberg, center Alan Quine and defenseman Kyle Burroughs rounded out their draft.
The Rangers took center Adam Tambellini, left wings Pavel Buchnevich and Anthony Duclair, defenseman Ryan Graves and goaltender MacKenzie Skapski.
Follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman