Founded in 1974, the New Jersey Devils have built a record of success and have won three Stanley Cups. Over the years, the New Jersey Devils have picked up a number of talented players in the National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft. Several of its picks outside of the first round have gone on to enjoy lengthy and successful careers. Here are six of its best value picks in the NHL Entry Draft.
Patrik Elias is the New Jersey Devils’ all-time leader in goals (408) and points (1,025), so it’s a little surprising that he wasn’t a first-round draft pick. The Czech Republic winger was selected as the 51st overall selection in the second round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. The team’s first-round pick that year, Vadim Sharifijanov, recorded 37 points in 92 career regular season games.
Elias scored seven points in 27 games with Kladno in the Czech Republic in his draft year and followed that up with 10 points in 35 games the following season. He split his first two seasons in North America with the Devils and its American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Albany before finally securing a full-time roster spot with New Jersey in 1997–98. He played 78 games that season and recorded 37 points. Elias recorded a career-best 96 points in the 2000–01 season and accumulated at least 50 points 12 times in 18 full seasons with New Jersey. He retired following the 2015–16 season after spending his entire career with the Devils.
Another second-round pick, Paul Martin was drafted 62nd overall by the Devils in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft out of Elk River High School and played six seasons with the team from 2003–04 to 2009–10. While the 6-foot-1 defenseman was primarily known for his shutdown capabilities, he recorded at least 20 points in each of his five full seasons in New Jersey. Due to an injury, he played 22 games in the 2009–10 season.
Martin spent an additional five seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and three with the San Jose Sharks. In 2018, he retired after accumulating 320 points over the course of 870 career regular season games.
The 1998 NHL Entry Draft was one of the Devils’ most successful drafts. Seven of its 12 selections played at least one game in the NHL, while two — Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta — played more than 1,000 games. Gionta, who was selected in the third round out of Boston College, accumulated 291 goals and 304 assists for 595 points in 1,026 career regular season games. He also accumulated 68 points in 113 playoff games.
Gionta joined the Devils in the 2001–02 season following a standout four-year career at Boston College, where he recorded 232 points in 164 games. He played seven seasons in New Jersey and registered a career-high 89 points during the 2005–06 season. He later played for the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, and the Boston Bruins.
Adam Henrique is one of the most recent draft steals of note for the Devils. Selected 82nd overall in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Henrique recorded 383 points over the course of 683 regular-season games as of March 2, 2021. Now in his fourth year with the Anaheim Ducks, he previously spent parts of seven seasons with the Devils. Henrique scored a career-high 30 goals with New Jersey in the 2015–16 season.
Viacheslav “Slava” Fetisov was selected by the Devils in the eighth round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft and played 546 regular season games over the course of nine seasons with the Devils and the Detroit Red Wings. Before that, he was a standout on the Soviet Union national team and a three-time Soviet Player of the Year. The left-handed defenseman won two Stanley Cups in the NHL and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
Mike Rupp stands out for having scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final. This was Rupp’s first career playoff goal. No other player in league history holds this distinction.
A hard-working winger from Cleveland, Ohio, Rupp was drafted by the Devils in the third round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and recorded eight points in his rookie season. He had two separate stints in New Jersey and also played for the Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and Minnesota Wild. He retired with 99 points in 609 career regular season games.