With the NHL Draft just a few weeks away, the Devils are contemplating which of the top prospects to take with the number one pick.
New Jersey is expected to select one of two centers with the first overall selection: Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier. Patrick is ranked No. 1 and Hischier No. 2 by Central Scouting, but many consider both prospects equally worthy of the top selection.
"They are different types of players," Devils general manager Ray Shero said to the New York Times.
Patrick was the captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. Although he missed more than half of the season due to injuries, Patrick finished the year with 20 goals and 26 assists in just 33 games. He truly put himself in the national spotlight during the 2015-2016 season, when he recorded 102 points in 72 games and led the Wheat Kings to the Memorial Cup (the championship of Canadian junior hockey), earning MVP honors for the playoffs.
Hischier played for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League during the 2016-2017 season, accuring 38 goals and 48 assists. He also played for Switzerland at the World Junior Championship, an international under-19 tournament, where he impressed many by picking up seven points in five games.
The Devils employ Dr. Aimee Kimball, a sports psychologist, to help with the questioning during player interviews. While Shero is one of six members of the Devils' staff present during the interviews, it is Dr. Kimball that asks about 80 percent of the questions.
"It's a matter of gathering more information and looking for red flags," said Shero. "It's an added layer of information. We're in the information business. You try to minimize your risks."
New Jersey interviewed over 60 players last week, including the top two prospects. Not all were vying for the top selection though, as the Devils have 10 other selections in this month's draft.
"Sometimes it's funny, they get asked a question, and they say, 'Wow, that's a new one,'" Shero said. "Let's see how they respond to it. Some kids say: 'Can I take that one back? The more I think about it.…' You think they're done and next thing you know there's a funny story about their sister, or something about their personality."
The 2017 NHL Draft begins on Friday, June 23 at 7pm from the United Center in Chicago.