These New Jersey Devils fans thought the team was selecting top prospect Shane Wright with the No. 2 pick. They were stunned to see the team select defenseman Simon Nemec instead.
The start of the 2022 NHL Draft was a wild one to say the least, and the New Jersey Devils played a part in it. Heading into the night, the Devils held the No. 2 pick. Given that Shane Wright was the top prospect in the entire class, the expectation from hockey fans was that the Montreal Canadiens would select him with the No. 1 pick.
Instead, the Canadiens took Slovakia winger Juraj Slafkovsky first overall. That left New Jersey with a choice to make — do they draft for need or take the best player available in Wright? Given that the team has multiple young stud centers, the Devils passed on Wright and selected Slovakia defenseman Simon Nemec with the second-overall pick, leaving fans stunned.
If you wanted proof of said fans being stunned, take a look at this video of the reaction at the Devils’ draft party.
Devils fans stunned after team passes on Shane Wright to draft Simon Nemec with second-overall pick
The screams of “NOOO” with the Devils’ goal horn sounding in the background. Chef’s kiss.
Speaking of Wright, he actually dropped quite a bit further. The Arizona Coyotes selected United States center Logan Cooley with the No. 3 pick. Wright’s slide stopped after that, as the Seattle Kraken selected him with the fourth-overall pick.
When looking at New Jersey’s roster, they already have star centers in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, so there was not much of a need at the position, despite Wright being the top player available. That is why the team made the decision to select Nemec who was one of the top defenseman prospects in the entire class.
The 6-foot, 190-pound defenseman played for Nitra MHC. This past season, he scored one goal and tallied 25 assists through 39 games played, per HockeyDB. He was also part of the Slovakia Olympic hockey team that won the bronze medal, alongside Slafkovsky.
Slafkovsky and Nemec made history, as they were first- and second-highest selected Slovakian players in the NHL Draft.
New Jersey taking Nemec over Wright will be discussed for the foreseeable future to see if the team made the right selection.