NHL Draft 2018: Devils don't move into 2nd or 3rd rounds, make 5 picks on Day 2

June 23, 2018 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

The Devils didn't make any trades and picked five players during the second day of the 2018 NHL Draft. Watch video

It took a while, but the Devils eventually got down to business on day two of the 2018 NHL Draft.

The Devils entered Saturday's action at American Airlines Center in Dallas with no picks in the second or third rounds, and they did not make any moves before making their five picks in rounds four through seven.

After taking defenseman Ty Smith with the 17th overall pick in the first round on Friday, the Devils started Saturday by selecting defenseman Xavier Bernard with the 110th pick, which came in the fourth round.

What you need to know about Smith

Bernard, from Canada, played in the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs during the 2017-18 season, where the 6-3, 203-pound defenseman put up 11 goals and 24 assists over 66 games. Bernard immediately became the tallest defenseman prospect within the Devils' system (Steven Santini and Colby Sissons both stand at 6-2).

While Bernard said he enjoys engaging in the physical aspects of the game, his strengths match some of the things the Devils value most while evaluating players.

"I can skate with the puck. I feel like I have a great shot, so I can bring offense with my shot," Bernard said. "One of my best strengths is my first pass. I have a good first pass and can play well on defense, so I'm a pretty complete defenseman."

While Bernard has some strong assets and size, he wants to become a more agile, as the NHL continues to grow faster and more skilled.

"I want to improve everything, because I want to have a career in the NHL," Bernard said. "For me, it's to be better every day and work with my new coaches and evolve the weakness in my game. I need to be a more complete defenseman to have a long career, and to be quicker and faster."

The Devils had two picks in the fifth round, where they took goalie Akira Schmid at No. 136, then center Yegor Sharangovich at No. 141. Taking Schmid marked the second straight year the Devils have taken a Swiss goalie in the fifth round after they took Gilles Senn at No. 129 in 2017. Schmid posted a 2.60 GAA playing for Langnau U20 in Switzerland last season.

Sharangovich is a Belarus native, and he played 2017-18 with Dinamo Minsk in the KHL in Russia, where he had four goals and eight assists in 47 games. He also played with Belarus at the World Junior Championships.

Canadian center Mitchell Hoelscher went to the Devils at No. 172 in the sixth round. Hoelscher, who played in the OHL with the Ottawa 67's, posted 10 goals and 28 assists over 67 games in 2017-18.

The Devils ended their day by taking Finnish left winger Eetu Pakkila in the seventh round at 203rd overall. He finished with 40 points in 48 games in Finland's U20 league last season.

Chris Ryan may be reached at cryan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Find NJ.com Devils on Facebook.




Ex-Devils Ilya Kovalchuk officially making NHL return, agrees to sign with Kings

June 23, 2018 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

Former Devil Ilya Kovalchuk has agreed to a contract with the Los Angeles Kings, making his NHL return all but official. Watch video

Ilya Kovalchuk's NHL return is all but official.

The former Devil, who abruptly retired from the Devils and the NHL following the 2012-13 season, agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings, the team announced on Saturday. The deal is expected to carry a $6.25 million AAV.

Kovalchuk can't officially sign his contract until July 1, but he will play in Los Angeles in 2018-19.

After flirting with an NHL return in past seasons, Kovalchuk had a much easier path to a return in 2018. Since he turned 35 in April, he was removed from the NHL's voluntary retirement list, meaning the Devils lost his rights.

What to know about Ty Smith

He retired from the NHL just three seasons after signing a 15-year, $100 million deal with the Devils, leaving New Jersey to play in the KHL in his native Russia.

Kovalchuk also won a gold medal while representing Russia at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

While playing in the KHL, Kovalchuk's production didn't dip. In 2017-18, he led the league by posting 78 points with 32 goals and 46 assists. He followed that up with a 31-goal, 32-assist campaign in 2017-18.

During his NHL career, Kovalchuk has 417 goals and 399 assists for 816 points over 816 games.

Since the Kings play in the Western Conference, Kovalchuk will only play his former team twice every season. During the 2018-19 season, the Devils visit the Kings on Dec. 6, and Kovalchuk will make his return to Prudential Center when the Kings visit on Feb. 5.

Chris Ryan may be reached at cryan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Find NJ.com Devils on Facebook.