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2011 NHL Draft, Devils: Mock Draft Gives Devils Sean Courtier

Several analysts believe one of the New Jersey Devils needs ia playmaking center to compliment Ilya Kovalchuk.

If the guys at In Lou We Trust have the option, they'd take care of that with the team's fourth overall pick in this year's 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

SBNation.com's NHL Mock Draft projects the Devils to select center Sean Couturier of the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The QMJHLer recorded 96 points (30 goals, 46 assists) last season.

Despite solid production, Couturier tumbled down the rankings the past few months. He was the number two skater in the NHL's Central Scouting mid-term rankings before falling to number six in final rankings. The International Scouting Service had him first overall in December before falling to number four.

Many analysts believe the drop stemmed from his skating, which needs improvement. Couturier admitted it was a weak area, telling Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record he needs to work on "my explosiveness in my skating, the first three steps."

Despite that weakness, several scouts believe Couturier is one of the best available.

"Sean had excellent puckhandling and playmaking ability; he sees the ice and reads the play very well...He's extremely smart and gets himself into good scoring position," NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards said. "He plays a solid two-way game and is very responsible defensively"

Defensive play is key in the Devils organization. The team stresses the importance of two-way play, which is an area he excels.

Courtier is a big kid, checking in at 6-4, 197 pounds. Only 18, he has time to continue to grow into his frame. He's already shown his abilities on a big stage, helping Canada's junior team take silver at this year's IIHF World Junior Championships.

The Devils have depth at the position, with Travis Zajac firmly entrenched as the top-line center. Patrik Elias, a converted left-winger, centers the second line. Jacob Josefson had a solid rookie debut and will compete for a roster spot next season. Adam Henrique, who made a brief appearance in the NHL, also figures to challenge for a spot.

While he seems destined for another year of juniors, Couturier believes he can make a NHL roster next year.

"It's a lot of hard work still left, but I think next year, hopefully, depending on the team's roster or what they need, I can make myself a spot," he told Gulitti. "But it's a lot of hard work."