We continue our top 25 New Jersey Devils players under the age of 25 series today. This post will reveal the middle portion of our top 25 ranking. This includes two players that should see NHL action this season, an NCAA prospect, and two European prospects. Let's take a look at who they are.
#15 - Yegor Rykov - D - Age: 20 - 2016-17 Team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) - 2016 Rank: #32 - Elite Prospects Profile
Yegor Rykov is one of the big risers compared to last year after a very strong season with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL and for Russia at the World Junior Championship. The 6'2, 216 lbs. defenseman was selected as an overager by the Devils in the 5th round of the 2016 draft. At that time he was coming off a season that saw him split time between the MHL (junior hockey), VHL (second tier), and KHL (top flight) in Russia. He also had a strong showing for Russia's WJC team that won Silver with a goal and 2 assists in 7 games and earned praise for being able to play in all-situations. Last season, Rykov made the jump to the KHL as a full time player for SKA, averaging 12:24 per game over the course of 47 games in a bottom pair role. Due to his solid passing and vision he was able to assist on 9 goals. He was also solid in his own zone, quick to engage with attacking players, often forcing them into the boards where his compete level and physicality can force turnovers. He went on to become a Gagarin Cup Champion and 3-time KHL Rookie of the Week. Rykov really earned international praise when he put up a goal and 6 assists in 7 games for Russia's WJC team as they went on to win Bronze. Rykov was named a "Top 3 Player on Team" and led the WJC in assists by a defenseman. Through 8 games this season he's already resumed his role for SKA and should they need to make a change in their defense, Rykov could be right in line to earn more playing time at even strength and possibly special teams. Hopefully he can have another successful year developing with SKA as he's already made great strides over the past 2 seasons. I really think he can be a defender for the Devils in a few years.
#14 - Jesper Boqvist - C - Age: 18 - 2016-17 Team: Brynas IF/Timra IK (SHL/Allsvenskan) - 2016 Rank: N/A - Elite Prospects Profile
The Devils selected skilled forward Jesper Boqvist in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. The 6'0, 179 lbs. center (and sometime winger) came up through the Hedemora SK system in Sweden before transferring over to Brynas IF in 2014. Over the next 2 seasons he would be a standout player at the junior level and even earned 8 SHL games in 2015-16 as a result of his strong play as well as a call up to Sweden's entry at the World U18 Championship. Last season saw him cement his status as strong candidate for the 2017 draft as he put up 15 points in 15 games for the J20 team in the SuperElit and split time professionally between the SHL (top flight) and Allsvenskan (second division). With Bryans IF in the SHL he had 6 assists in 16 games but with Timra IK in the Allsvenskan he had more of an impact with 3 goals and 9 assists in 19 games. That put him in 3rd place among U19 players in the Allsvenskan in scoring with a strong 0.63 Pts/GP. Boqvist's earned praise from scouts for his finesse game as he is a great skater due to his shiftiness and excellent top speed. You'll often see him try to take a defenseman wide to either fly past them for a scoring chance or to open up ice for a teammate. His vision and puck skills definitely give off the impression that he could be a legitimate top 6 player in the NHL someday if he can reach his potential. His defensive positioning definitely needs work but that is something that should be ironed out with more player professionally in Sweden. Unfortunately, Boqvist suffered a broken wrist earlier this month in Champions League play and could be out up to 3 months. Hopefully he can come back strong and have a great second half.
#13 - Joey Anderson - RW - Age: 19 - 2016-17 Team: University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA) - 2016 Rank: #30 - Elite Prospects Profile
Joey Anderson is another huge riser on this year's list after he had a great freshman season for Minnesota Duluth. I even wrote about it here. The Devils selected the 6'0, 195 lbs. right wing in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft. The former USNTDP product earned the reputation for being a great supporting player due to his ability to play on a scoring line with the likes of Clayton Keller and Kieffer Bellows, doing the dirty work to create space and scoring chances for his linemates, as well as being a player that could play on the penalty kill. Last year he was able to carry this over to Minnesota Duluth where as a true freshman he played on the top line with Alex Iafallo and Dominic Toninato, which became one of the most dangerous lines in college hockey. He also showcased that his skill, vision, and passing ability made him an asset on the power play. Anderson's strong play would help UMD to a NCHC Championship and himself NCHC All-Rookie Team honors. UMD even made it to the NCAA Final but fell just short. In a lot of ways Anderson is a "Swiss army knife" type of forward since you could play him anywhere from a scoring line to checking line and on both special teams. While not the type of player that will ever become a star, he'll always give you 100% and make his linemates better. There's a reason why USA Hockey selected him for their WJC team last winter and he was a key role player in helping the team earn Gold. It won't be easy for him to top his rookie season with UMD where he had 12 goals and 25 assists in 39 games but hopefully he can build upon that success. I'd expect him to be one of the leaders on the team despite being a sophomore this upcoming season.
#12 - Mirco Mueller - D - Age: 22 - 2016-17 Team: San Jose (AHL) - 2016 Rank: N/A - Elite Prospects Profile
Mirco Mueller makes his debut just outside of the top 10. The Swiss defender was acquired by the Devils just prior to the 2017 draft for a 2nd and 4th round pick. While the 22 year old hasn't found success at the NHL level, cleary there is something that the Devils talent evaluators like about the 6'3, 210 lbs. former 1st round pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2013. Mueller's path to this point has been a bit of journey. He came up through the EHC Winterthur system in his homeland and transferred to Kloten in 2010. He played mainly 2 seasons of junior hockey with Kloten and his standout play earned him 7 games in the NLA (Swiss top flight) in 2011-12 where he had a goal. He then spent 2012-14 with Everett of the WHL to adjust to the North American game and further his draft exposure. In 123 WHL regular season games he had 11 goals and 47 assists while earning the reputation of a mobile two-way defenseman. In 2014-15 he spent 39 games with the Sharks putting up 4 points with an average ice time of 16:58. He also continued to represent Switzerland at the U20 level in international play. 2015-16 saw him move down the depth chart for San Jose as he appeared in just 11 NHL games with an average ice time of 10:36. He would put up 11 points in 50 games with the Barracuda in the AHL. Last season he once again fell out of favor with the NHL club, appearing in just 4 games. He did manage 2 goals and 18 assists in 62 games with the Barracuda though. He's still young, a former 1st round talent, and the Devils were comfortable giving up 2 picks for him. Hopefully a change of scenery with a new coaching staff to help him work on his game is what Mueller needs to reach the potential that many thought he had. Still, as of right now, he's just another unknown for the Devils defensive group.
#11 - Stefan Noesen - RW - Age: 24 - 2016-17 Team: New Jersey/San Diego (NHL/AHL) - 2016 Rank: N/A - Elite Prospects Profile
Another player making his debut on the AATJ rankings is Stefan Nosen. The 6'1, 205 lbs. right wing was picked up on waivers by the Devils in late January. He's another former 1st round pick that the Devils are hoping can revive his career in New Jersey. He was drafted in the top round by Ottawa in 2011 after strong second OHL season with Plymouth. Overall, his OHL career would stretch 2009-13 with a 1.02 Pts/GP average. In July of 2013 he would be traded to Anaheim but a knee injury that would require ACL and MCL surgery would cost him almost the entire 2013-14 season. From 2014-17 he would only get in 14 NHL games for the Ducks with 2 goals to show for it. Over his short professional career he has 63 points in 116 AHL games. With a depleted line up and a chance to take a flier on a former 1st round prospect, the Devils picked Noesen off waivers and gave him a chance to showcase himself at the NHL level. In 32 games with the Devils Noesen had 6 goals and 2 assists while averaging 12:50 per game. When he's on his game it seems he can provide a little bit of secondary scoring due to his ability to go into the dirty areas in the offensive zone. The jury is still out on what he can provide the Devils going forward but as he nears 25, the time is now for him to show what type of player he can be at the NHL level.
What type of contributions do you see Noesen and Mueller making for the Devils this season? How do you view Anderson, Boqvist, and Rykov as prospects? Where did you have these players ranked? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!