New Jersey Devils Target: Kari Piiroinen, Goalie
Kari Piiroinen is a Finnish netminder who has excelled for an above-average yet very promising Finnish national team. They were able to give teams like Canada, and Sweden fits this past World Juniors for the U-20 team. The New Jersey Devils should keep an eye on this goalie due to the fact he’s very experienced internationally in net from his under-17 to under-20 age groups.
Piiroinen is the kind of goalie with a very sound lateral movement, and sees the ice pretty well, and has developed his goaltending over time from his time in the OHL to playing in Liiga and experience is a bonus because when he’s in North America professionally he has less of a learning curve before joining the NHL.
One of the things that is noticeable in Piiroinen’s game is his technically sound style of goaltending for a guy who is going to be 20 years of age in this draft class. He has posted save percentages in Finlands Liiga (highest pro league, likely second or third best League outside the NHL) hovering above .915 to .944 which is very good because some goalies take a little longer to develop than a few in their first tries in a draft plus one season.
As you see in the video above he kept his country in the game and cooled down after a loose puck went in on the Russian goal. But, Piiroinen was the main factor helping Finland clinch the bronze medal. I see him going in the late rounds if not being an undrafted free agent the New Jersey Devils can stockpile goalies.
New Jersey Devils Target: Danila Klimovich C
Over the years the New Jersey Devils have had a niche with finding players from places like Belarus and even along the KHL. Here is a player named Danila Klimovich who plays in Belarus but not the KHL. Klimovich is a relentless playmaker yet more of a sniper due to his 28 goals to 24 assists in 37 games played. If there is someone the New Jersey Devils could use to interview him it would be their very own forward in Yegor Sharangovich.
What the New Jersey Devils could get in Klimovich is relentless high energy very skilled puck carrier who can do well in distributing the puck but being a finisher. The New Jersey Devils finding a guy who can absolutely help on even strength and improve the power play would make life more potable for Devils fans to watch game-in and game-out. If general manager Tom Fitzgerald and his group draft Danila Klimovich into the New Jersey Devils I can see him playing either in the KHL, or AHL and let him get accustomed to North American ice.
New Jersey Devils: Value Drafting
The New Jersey Devils have been very smart and very good at specializing in the later rounds mostly from Europe and Central Eastern Europe as well. I can see the franchise stockpiling more on wingers to bury the puck and I find Danila Klimovich is better suited to play on the wing. It doesn’t hurt to take him into consideration to develop more like an NHL sniper.
As far as utilizing the goaltending in the later rounds, there are other goalies out there, but if the Devils don’t want to wait a few years and want to replace guys like Aaron Dell who don’t fit the near and longer-term, it’s better to get younger blood into the pipelines sooner. Having a solid backup in free agency will allow a Piiroinen type pick to adjust to the North American ice while draftee Akira Schmid from Switzerland is already improving his game before the NHL jump to New Jersey overtime.
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