Devils, NJ Devils

Devils Select Simon Nemec Second-Overall at NHL Draft

Thursday July 7 was when the 2022 National hockey League Draft began in Montreal, Quebec and the New Jersey Devils had the second overall pick.

Heading into the first day of the NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils held the second-overall pick and did not want to let go. There was talk about Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald possibly trading this prized pick for a player but they chose the wiser route.

That involved stepping up to the podium, with team legend and Executive VP of Hockey Operations, Martin Brodeur leading the Devils but Brodeur asked the Devils' new assistant GM, Kate Madigan who made history by becoming the sixth woman to hold a front office position, to make the pick. Madigan picked the top-rated defenseman in the draft, Simon Nemec she did.

After being selected, the 18-year-old described his feelings. "It's a big surprise because everybody said I'd be four, five, or six. But second-overall is amazing." Then the Slovakian said he was "really, really excited."

In terms of this young man's talent on the ice, the Devils chief scout, Mark Dennehy gave his thoughts.

Simon is the modern-day puck moving defenseman. His vision in all three zones, plus the ability to pass off either forehand or backhand, allows his team to transition from defense to offense.

The Devils picked second at the draft after the host-city Montreal picked first. The Canadiens selected Slovakian Juraj Slafkovsky first overall and since another Slovak, Nemec went second it became the first time in National Hockey League (NHL) history that two Slovakian players had been picked first and second at the NHL Draft.

Simon Nemec's Career

Nemec was born in Slovakia in 2004 in a town called Liptovsky Mikulas. He played for his town's youth team and by the age of fifteen was playing professionally for HK Nitra during the 2019-20 season.

Nemec starred for Slovakia at U-16 and U-18 competitions where he would score 16 points in 21 games for the U-18 team. At the 2021 World Junior Championships, Nemec showed off his offensive skill by registering four assists in five games as Slovakia made it to the quarterfinals, losing to the U.S. 5-2.

The 2022 Winter Olympics were a chance for Nemec to really distinguish himself. It would be some of the highest pressure the young man had felt representing his country and he scored one point in seven games as Slovakia won the Bronze medal.

The Devils are going through a youth renaissance throughout their team but also on defense. Their oldest blueliner is Dougie Hamilton, 28 and three of them are younger than 24 (Ty Smith, Reilly Walsh and Colton White). However, after Smith's disappointing sophomore year, it was probably time for the Devils to add a talent akin to the Rangers Adam Fox to help move their team into the modern game.

Gone are the days of Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko patrolling the Devils blueline with their old-time brand of hockey. Instead, the game has become about speed and skill and slowly but surely, the New Jersey Devils are building a stockpile of young offensive and now defensive talent with the addition of their 2022 first round pick that can rival the league's best.

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Anthony graduated from Montclair State University, where he covered a variety of sports for three years. He co-hosts a sports-themed radio show on campus radio station, WMSC 90.3 FM, which was recently named #1 college radio station in the nation.