Devils open to trading 2022 1st-round pick
With the 2022 NHL Draft just two months away, New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald has made it clear his team's first-round selection could be in play.
"I said this two drafts ago when we had the three first-round picks, I'm open to whatever can help our team improve," Fitzgerald said Thursday, according to NHL.com's Wes Crosby. "If that is using a pick like that, wherever it may be, to help bring in a player that we know and feel will help impact the results that we are looking for, absolutely."
New Jersey currently holds the fifth-best odds (8.5%) of landing the No. 1 selection at the 2022 draft lottery. The team ultimately picked forward Alexander Holtz, center Dawson Mercer, and defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin with its trio of 2020 first-rounders (Nos. 7, 18, and 20).
The Devils finished in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division with a 27-46-9 record this past season and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive campaign.
However, Fitzgerald believes it's time for his team, which is brimming with talented youth like former first overall picks Nico Hischier (2017) and Jack Hughes (2019), to start contending for the playoffs.
"No more excuses - 'Oh, we're the youngest team in the league,'" Fitzgerald said. "Guys know how to play. Guys know what the standards are and the expectations of what we're trying to build here and the culture we want to build. We all have to be pulling the same way."
Yet no matter what the Devils' roster looks like next season, it's expected that Lindy Ruff will stay on as head coach after the team fired assistants Alain Nasreddine and Mark Recchi on Wednesday.
"There are areas that have to grow and develop. That's something that Lindy and I had a very frank conversation about," Fitzgerald said. "Supporting him at this moment is something I believe is important because of the snapshot of all the positives I've seen from our players, how they respond to him."
The draft lottery will take place May 10 at 6:30 p.m. ET, while the draft will kick off July 7.