As always with the NHL draft, I only make claims that I know a little beyond the top ten or so prospects, so I'm accumulating information from several sources, so kudos to All About The Jersey for their preview of Hameenaho and Elite Prospects for their scouting report.
The eighteen-year-old (nineteen in November) Hameenaho is six foot, 174 pounds, is already playing in the Finnish professional league with Assat, and played for the Finland entry in the World Junior Championships.
Hameenaho scored nine goals with twelve assists in fifty-one games in his rookie season with Assat, and while Hameenaho's stats don't seem otherworldly, for an eighteen year in their top pro league that's a very nice start to a pro career.
Hameenaho has been listed as a solid prospect that may have a lower ceiling than some prospects but a high floor, which means he may not turn into a superstar but he's likely to be a lower risk as well.
Hameenaho is under contract to Assat through 2024-25, so he's not someone that the Devils will be bringing over to the USA anytime soon and the Devils aren't in a position of need for a player to make an immediate impact from the draft.
This is a solid pick and while I wouldn't venture a guess to say whom New Jersey should have selected instead, I'll say this- while there may have been players with higher upside available, New Jersey is missing their first and third picks in this draft so a solid player that you think has a chance to eventually make an NHL roster is preferable in this situation compared to taking a swing at a more talented player that might be less likely to make a team.
I'm all for taking chances in the draft ( NFL and NBA as well) but one has to be recognizant of the circumstances.
For the Cavaliers, gambling on a potential top talent like Emoni Bates in the second round made sense to me because no player was going to give them immediate help in the second (and final) round, so swing for the fences.
In the longer NHL draft where depth is needed in the organization and lacking a choice in both the first and third rounds, the Devils needed to take a good player that had a higher likelihood of eventually arriving in at least Utica and hopefully Newark.
This likely takes care of the Devils' coverage from the draft unless Tom Fitzgerald makes another transaction before the conclusion.