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Kujawinski Drafted By New Jersey Devils

By on July 16, 2013
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Ryan Kujawinski was recently drafted by the New Jersey Devils as the 73rd pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.  The proud Polonian who hails from Iroquois Falls, Ontario, has a Polish father as per his great sounding name and a French Canadian mother.  His dad is a first generation Canadian with grandpa being born in Poland.

Ryan is an offensive-minded center with great skills and terrific speed and the scouting reports commend his defensive skills as above average.

Born on March 30, 1995, Ryan has the youthful exuberance of any teenager yet the skills of a first round pick.  It was noted in many scouting reports that he is a man among boys but unfortunately his play is inconsistent. These inconsistencies dropped him in the draft rankings, giving the Devils led by genius G.M. Lou Lamoriello a shot at him. The  Devils used the 73rd pick which they got from Phoenix in a trade from 39 to 42 and 73.   Lamoriello known for the ability to find diamonds in the rough picked Steve Santini with the teams first pick in the Draft at 42 and Ryan 73.

The  2013 NHL Draft was hosted by New Jersey for the first time, giving the Prudential Center and Newark, NJ a showcase for all 30 NHL franchises on the arena floor. The delegations of NHL teams gave the appearance of a political convention with all 30 tables being made up of owners, GM, coaches, and players who have 3 minutes to pick their choice.

The Devils who did not make the Playoffs this season, after losing in the Stanley Cup finals last year to the LA Kings, had garnished the 9th pick.  The 2013 season, abbreviated because of a labor dispute and saw only 48 games in 99 days, had the Devils in contention until a devastating injury to Ilya Kovalchuk toward the end of the season sent New Jersey into a tailspin.

Hosting the draft does not replace making the Playoffs, yet the Devils stole the show on Sunday with a blockbuster deal when they traded their 9th pick to Vancouver for starting goal tender Cory Schneider. Schneider and Vancouver became an impossible mixture and the Canucks had been hoping to make a deal for Schneider who has two remaining years on his contract.

The Devils and their future Hall of Fame goalie Marty Brodeur, who will play in the up-coming season until his contract expires, need a new back up and hopefully someone who can take the reigns from Marty when he retires.  Schneider is a starting goal tender and together with Brodeur the  Devils have two quality tenders.

“I know I cannot play for ever,”  Marty explained. “It’s a good deal for the Devils and I had no idea it was going to happen.  I still consider myself the starting goalie for the 2013-14 season.”

Almost lost in the night was the selection of Broduer’s son Anthony who was picked in the 7th and final round at 208th. The smile on Marty’s face was jubilant and a father’s pride was beaming as his son was picked by the Devils who traded with the Kings for the chance to bring father and son together.  New Jersey’s greatest player sat by his son at the podium as they met the media. Anthony had a few words for the media with dad glowing with pride.

As for the Polish pick of Kujawinski, this could be a solid choice.  At 6 foot 2 inches and 200 pounds, and with a desire to prove the critics wrong, Ryan could develop into a NHL player quickly.    I asked him what his time frame was for making the Devils. Ryan was politely elusive in his answer.  “Let me just keep playing hard and keep getting better. I have no idea how long it will take,” noted Ryan.

Kujawinski has played for the Iroquois Falls Stingers in the Midget B League before moving up to the Sudbury Wolves, and has played on Team Ontario.  After which he moved up to the Sarnia Sting and presently plays on the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL.

This was the first year he was eligible for the NHL Draft. He won a bronze medal with team Ontario and a Gold Medal in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.  The CHL had him as a top prospect in 2013.

The Devils first pick in the draft was Steve Santini who is American and Steve will be attending Boston College.

By James Dombrowski