For teams in the National Hockey League that don’t make the playoffs, the focus turns to the draft and such was the case for your New Jersey Devils.

They held the #2 overall pick, so their chance of getting an excellent player was pretty good. This was the highest they’d drafted since 2019, when they had the first overall pick (which they used on star center Jack Hughes).

The newest Devil first-round pick is Simon Nemec, a right-handed shooting defenseman from Slovakia.

The first overall pick, by the Montreal Canadiens, is also a Slovakian, Juraj Slafkovsky.

The Devils' top choice last year was at #4 where they selected another defenseman, Luke Hughes, the younger brother of the aforementioned Jack Hughes. With both Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier (the first overall pick in 2017) holding down the center spots on the first two lines, it wasn’t a surprise that they went with another blueliner.

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One
Getty Images
loading...

"I'm really, really excited. I still can't believe it. Amazing," said Nemec to the media after his selection. "It was an amazing moment for my family, for me, for everybody in Slovakia. It's an amazing night because we had the first overall (Slafkovsky) and second overall."

In an interview shared by the Devils, Nemec said he had met with team executives several times before the draft.

"When I was with the Devils organization, I felt very great. I talked to Tomas Tatar, and he said a couple things about the organization. Now it's great. The Devils are a great organization. He said good things about them and now they drafted me."

Nemec hopes to get assigned to a North American club to start his Devils career, ideally at Utica of the AHL.

The Devils just released their 2022-23 schedule this week; they open on the road in Philly and then have their home opener against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 15.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle only.

You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On Demand! Hear New Jersey’s favorite afternoon radio show any day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now.

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

UP NEXT: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

Here's where NJ legal weed is sold

The number of recreational cannabis dispensaries continues to grow, with close to two dozen state approvals given since the first adult recreational sales in the state back in April. Here is where the open sites are located.

See the Must-Drive Roads in Every State