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An Overview of the Devils Prospects Part 2: The Defensemen and Goaltenders

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The Devils already have a solid, young group of defenders at the NHL level. This post will take a look at the other defensive prospects and how far along they are in their development.

Mackenzie Blackwood poses for a portrait after being selected 42nd by the New Jersey Devils during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 27, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.
Mackenzie Blackwood poses for a portrait after being selected 42nd by the New Jersey Devils during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 27, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

My first post in this series focused on the forwards in the Devils prospect pool. This post will feature the defensemen and goaltenders.

Defining a Prospect

For this post, I will use the definition of a prospect from Hockey Prospectus:

For our purposes, a prospect is defined as a player who has 25 or fewer regular season games played during the last NHL season, or 50 or fewer career NHL regular season games played. The age cutoff is 26 years old, as of September 15th.

As I did last year, I will modify the age cutoff to 25 since 26 is too high in my opinion. The prospects will be grouped together based on the league they are expected to play in during the 2015-16 season. I'll also include some of the fringe NHL players under the AHL section. All stats collected from the respective league pages or CHL Stats.

This may not appear to be a lengthy list but there are some quality prospects that have NHL potential. Keep in mind that the Devils already have a solid group of young defenders at the NHL level that have "graduated" for purposes of this post.

Some stats you might see:
A1 and Pts1 = Primary assists and points, GC = Goals Created (Hockey-Reference's metric), Tm% = Team % Stats, eTOI = Estimated Time on Ice, eP/60 = Estimated Points Per 60, aaPPG = Age Adjusted Points Per Game, NHLe = NHL Equivalency, QS = Quality Starts, GA%- = Goals Allowed %-, GSAA = Goals Saved Above Average

AHL

Joe Faust - D - 6'0, 205 lbs. - DOB: 11/15/91 - Acquired: 2010 Draft (4/114)

Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
2014-15 Albany AHL 26 1 3 4 -4 18 3.85% 1.00 0.15
A1 Pts1 GC GC/GP EVG EVA EV Pts EV GC EV GC/GP TmG% TmA% TmPt%
1 2 1.37 0.05 1 3 4 1.40 0.05 0.51% 0.93% 0.77%

I'm being a bit generous including Faust in this list. He's not listed under contract with NJ or Albany but the fact he was in prospect camp leads me to believe he may get an AHL deal. He was mainly a 3rd pair defender for a large part of his college career and hasn't developed all that much since the Devils drafted him out of high school. Organizations need extra players at the minor league level for when injuries and call-ups occur so their familiarity with Faust could help him land a depth role in the minor leagues.


Seth Helgeson - D - 6'5, 215 lbs. - DOB: 10/8/90 - Acquired: 2009 Draft (4/114)

Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
2014-15 Albany AHL 49 2 10 12 3 58 3.77% 1.08 0.24
A1 Pts1 GC GC/GP EVG EVA EV Pts EV GC EV GC/GP TmG% TmA% TmPt%
5 7 3.85 0.08 1 8 9 2.79 0.06 1.02% 3.10% 2.31%

Helgeson is a large, physical defender that spent 4 years in a shutdown role for the University of Minnesota from 2009-13. He built upon a solid rookie season in the AHL in 2013-14 by playing more quality minutes for Albany last season and increasing his production. This helped him earn a call-up to New Jersey in which he would appear in 22 games. Helgeson doesn't stand to develop much more at age 24, he is what he is - a stay at home defenseman that looks to eat minutes and shut the opposition down. He will have a chance to earn a spot in New Jersey out of training camp this season.


Raman Hrabarenka - D - 6'5, 235 lbs. - DOB: 8/24/92 - Acquired: Free Agent (7/12/13)

Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
2014-15 Albany AHL 47 9 18 27 0 26 11.11% 1.72 0.57
A1 Pts1 GC GC/GP EVG EVA EV Pts EV GC EV GC/GP TmG% TmA% TmPt%
9 18 9.89 0.21 5 9 14 5.31 0.11 4.57% 5.57% 5.19%

Hrabarenka is a large, right handed defender out of Belarus that the Devils organization originally signed to an AHL deal back in September of 2012. Before his AHL career he spent 2 seasons in the QMJHL where he managed just 6 goals and 23 assists in 107 games. Since turning pro, he has increased his offensive output in every season and earned himself a NHL contract. He earned his first NHL call-up last season for the Devils and has a strong chance to play in New Jersey at some point this season. Hrabarenka is also a player that has senior international experience, having played in 3 World Championships for Belarus. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to tighten up defensively while producing offense like he did over the last 2 seasons.


Vojtech Mozik - D - 6'2, 187 lbs. - DOB: 12/26/92 - Acquired: Free Agent (6/15/15)

Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM Pts/GP
2014-15 HC Plzen Czech 51 10 19 29 2 94 0.57

The Devils signed Mozik out of the Czech Republic back in June. John has the full rundown here. Mozik was an undrafted free agent that previously attended prospect camps with the Rangers and has an NHL frame. Just looking at Mozik there is a lot to like, he's 22, a right handed shot, was tied for 1st in goals in the Czech league last season, and 4th in points. He will have a great chance to earn a spot on New Jersey's roster this season but could also see sometime in the AHL as he adjust to the North American game.

Reece Scarlett - D - 6'1, 185 lbs. - DOB: 3/31/93 - Acquired: 2011 Draft (6/159)

Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
2014-15 Albany AHL 57 2 23 25 1 27 2.33% 1.51 0.44
A1 Pts1 GC GC/GP EVG EVA EV Pts EV GC EV GC/GP TmG% TmA% TmPt%
11 13 7.42 0.13 2 9 11 3.63 0.06 1.02% 7.12% 4.81%

Scarlett is a solid defense prospect but due to the depth and quality of the Devils depth at the position, is in danger of being passed on the depth chart. He spent 4 years improving his overall game steadily with Swift Current in the WHL prior to joining Albany. He's been effective in a limited role with 45 points in 105 career games in the AHL over the last 2 years. At age 22, it will be very important for him to earn a consistent role with Albany's top 4 - which is easier said than done given the players around him. 2015-16 will be a very important year for him to show if he has NHL potential or not.


Scott Wedgewood - G - 6'2, 190 lbs. - DOB: 8/14/92 - Acquired: 2010 Draft (3/84)

Team League GP SV% SO QS QS% GA%- GSAA GSAA/60
2014-15 Albany AHL 36 .903 2 16 47.06% 113 -10.21 -0.30

Wedgewood just completed his 3rd season as a pro but continued to struggle. After a promising junior career with Plymouth in the OHL that even saw him feature in 3 games with Canada's 2012 WJC team, the 22 year old has had a hard time reaching average status relative to his peers in the ECHL and AHL. He originally struggled with some weight gain his rookie season as a pro playing in 48 games with the Trenton Titans of the ECHL and posting a .900 SV%. In the last 2 years, he has appeared in 72 games for Albany in the AHL but has continued to post SV%'s around .900 , well below the league average. He'll have the opportunity once again to grab the starting role in Albany but his track record suggests it's far from a sure thing to occur. While he is about to turn 23 years old and is still somewhat young, it's hard to see him being more than a depth minor league goaltender going forward.

CHL

Mackenzie Blackwood - G - 6'4, 215 lbs. - DOB: 12/9/96 - Acquired: 2015 Draft (2/42)

Team League GP SV% SO QS QS% GA%- GSAA GSAA/60
2014-15 Barrie OHL 51 .906 2 31 60.78% 93 10.91 0.22

The most recent 2nd round pick of the Devils, Blackwood was the top ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting. Blackwood is an athletic goaltender with a large frame that has developed the reputation of being a reliable workhorse for Barrie in the OHL. The 18 year old finished last season near the top part of the OHL goaltender leaderboard in most categories. He is currently with Hockey Canada competing in their summer showcase as he hopes to earn the #1 role at the WJC in a few months. Blackwood has only been a goalie since age 12 and is still fine tuning his overall game, however the early results are promising.


Josh Jacobs - D - 6'2, 191 lbs. - DOB: 2/15/96 - Acquired: 2014 Draft (2/41)

Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
2014-15 Michigan State Big 10 35 0 9 9 -10 26 0.00% 1.77 0.26
A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts Blk
4 4 0 3 3 72

Coming off of a successful freshman season for Michigan State from a personal level, Jacobs made the surprise move to Sarnia in the OHL this summer. Jacobs played in all situations for MSU last season and logged a lot of difficult minutes on a rebuilding team. He was very capable in both ends of the rink for the Spartans, showcasing nice skating, passing ability, and physicality. As OHL expert Brock Otten told us last month, we can expect Jacobs to play a huge role in Sarnia. He excelled last year under difficult circumstances so playing in a more stable situation in Sarnia, with a schedule that mimics the pro's, should allow him to continue to develop his all-around game. I'm also curious to see if the move to the OHL can help him grow from an offensive standpoint. Jacobs competed in the ongoing USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp but was cut this morning. He was always going to be on the outside looking in so this isn't a huge surprise. He can still try to earn a call-up to their winter camp with a strong 1st half in the OHL.


Ryan Rehill - D - 6'3, 225 lbs. - DOB: 11/7/95 - Acquired: 2014 Draft (5/131)

Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM Pts/GP
2014-15 Kamloops WHL 68 7 13 20 -6 128 0.29
eTOI eP/60 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts EV P/60 aaPPG NHLe GC GC/GP TmPt%
23.05 0.77 12 7 12 19 0.74 0.24 6 5.01 0.074 10.1%

Rehill is a tough, physical defender that isn't afraid to drop the gloves, as evidenced by his 32 fighting majors over 3 WHL seasons. He has emerged as one of the top defenders for Kamloops and has enjoyed throwing around his pro size in the WHL. The stay at home defeneman has improved every year in the WHL but will need to cut down on taking penalties to make it to the next level while further improving his skating and decision making with the puck. He turns 20 in November and should enjoy more success in the WHL but given that his skating and passing is just solid for his current level, it's hard to see him having a NHL impact down the road.


Colton White - D - 6'1, 185 lbs. - DOB: 5/3/97 - Acquired: 2015 Draft (4/97)

Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM Pts/GP
2014-15 Sault Ste. Marie OHL 67 6 16 22 38 30 0.33
eTOI eP/60 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts EV P/60 aaPPG NHLe GC GC/GP TmPt%
16.69 1.18 15 5 14 19 0.99 0.32 8 5.66 0.084 6.59%

The Devils selected White in the 4th round of the draft a few months ago. He has a solid frame but could stand to bulk up a bit more. He's an effective two-way defenseman whose skating and hockey sense have earned him praise from his coach Sheldon Keefe. He was a bit hidden on Sault Ste. Marie last year as they had some older, big name prospects on their blueline, but he figures to be ready to breakout this upcoming season.  It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to a larger role and likely some PP time. While he's still a bit raw, he has real solid potential to turn into an effective NHL defender in the future. He has the tools, it's a matter of him putting them all together over the next few years.

NCAA

Steve Santini - D - 6'2, 208 lbs. - DOB: 3/7/95 - Acquired: 2013 Draft (2/42)

Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
2014-15 Boston College Hockey East 22 1 4 5 -2 20 2.56% 1.77 0.23
A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts Blk
2 3 1 4 5 30

Last season didn't go as expected for Santini as he looked to build off of a strong freshman campaign that saw him feature for the USA WJC team. An unfortunate wrist injury that required surgery caused him to miss about half of his sophomore season and the WJC tournament where he was projected to be one of Team USA's top defenders. The good news is that when he did play, he was still a very sound defensive player that is able to skate well with and without the puck, has solid vision, and is able to breakout the puck effectively out of his own end. He also loves to have highlight reel hits from time to time. He was named an alternate captain for Boston College for this upcoming season, which could be his last before he turns pro. I want to see him stay healthy, continue to be a beast defensively, and perhaps add a little bit more offense in his junior season. Along with Jacobs and White, he's a defenseman that hasn't turned pro yet that I am excited about.

Your Take

How do you feel about this group of prospects? Which players are you most interested in or excited about? How do you feel about New Jersey's depth on defensemen? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!