It appears the Devils might have received some compensation for Brent Sutter anyway.
The Devils made a trade with the Calgary Flames to move up three spots and select Swedish center Jacob Josefson with the 20th pick overall in the NHL Entry Draft tonight in Montreal.
"I was a little bit nervous, but it was fun at the same time," Josefson said. "It was definitely something I was looking forward to for a long time. It's a dream come true."
The Devils gave up the 84th pick (their own third round pick) to move up fromt 23rd to 20th. They have still have Minnesota's third-round pick (74th) after acquiring it in last year's draft by moving down one spot in the first round.
Josefson (6-0, 187 pounds) is considered a good two-way center and strong skater. He's already been playing against men in the Swedish Elite League with Djurgarden.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said the team's scouts had Josefson ranked "pretty high" and was happy he fell far enough for them have a chance to trade up and pick him.
NHL's Central Scouting had him ranked third among European skaters behind defenseman Victor Hedman, who was drafted second overall by Tampa Bay, and left wing Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, who was selected 10th by Edmonton. International Scouting had Josefson ranked as the 10th player available. The Hockey News had him slated to be picked 15th.
“He’s a complete player," Lamoriello said. “I haven’t seen our draft table as excited as I’ve seen them today in a long time because where we had him ranked and then he didn’t go. Then, you get to point where you say, ‘Maybe he’s going to be close.’ Then, when you get close to where you’re going to draft, maybe four or five picks, that’s the only chance you have of somebody else switching. So, we made some calls and we were able to get Calgary to do it.”
Josefson said he had been told by his agent he'd probably be drafted anywhere between 10th and 25th. He had met with the Devils "twice" before the draft.
"And the meetings went really good, but I didn't really know if they were going to pick me," he said. "I'm real happy they did."
The Devils were not entitled to compensation from the Flames for signing Sutter, who still had one year left on his contract when he resigned on June 9. So, was it just a coicidence that the Devils made the trade with Calgary only three days after the Flames hired Sutter?
"Total coincidence," Lamoriello said.
Despite playing only 10 minutes a game on the fourth line, he had five goals and 11 assists in 50 games with Djugarden. He struggled at the World Junior Championships, howver, failing to register a point in six games.
The Devils were not scared off by that. Lamoriello said European scout Dan Labraaten "has been following him for a few years."
"He's a center iceman who can do everything on both sides of the puck," Lamoriello said. "He makes other people better than him. He's a passer. He's the type of player -- he's a lefty shot -- that we need."
The Devils did have a need in their system for a skilled centerman.
This is the second year in a row the Devils drafted a player from Sweden in the first round. They took speedy left wing Mattias Tedenby 24th overall last year. The Devils have taken Swedish players with three of their last four first-round picks. They took Nicklas Bergfors 23rd in 2005.
Josefson said he played on the same line with Tedenby "a couple of times" on the national team last year, but not during the 2009 World Juniors.
"I know him Mattias pretty good and he always tells me good things against New Jersey," he said. "I played against him a few times (in the Swedish Elite League) and we played together on the national team and I know him pretty well. He's a tremendous player."
Josefson said he has another year left on his contract with Djurgarden and then would be free to come to the NHL if he believes he's ready.
"If I'm ready, I want to be in the NHL," he said.
Lamoriello said the Josefson will attend the team's development camp, which begins on July 13 at Prudential Center.