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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 10/9/18

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Week 1 of the 2018-19 prospect update checks in on all the Devils prospects from North America to Europe to see how they’ve started their seasons.

New Jersey Devils v New York Rangers
The Devils will hope another season of playing big minutes for the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL can help Ty Smith continue to develop into a very skilled, two-way defenseman.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Welcome along to another season of prospect updates at AATJ. As with any new season, there has been a bit of turnover due to prospects moving on to the professional level in North America, not being signed, and new prospects being drafted and signed. Joining Binghamton to start the 2018-19 AHL season are Michael McLeod, Marian Studenic, Colby Sissons, Brett Seney, and Joey Anderson. Recent Devils draft pick Yegor Sharangovich is also with Binghamton after spending last season in the KHL. Goaltending prospect Evan Cormier wasn’t signed as the organization opted to move in another direction after last season. Enough about those prospects, let’s take a look at the prospects we’ll be following along at the junior, collegiate, and European level this season.

QMJHL

Name Pos. Age Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
Jocktan Chainey D 19.10 Halifax 5 1 2 3 0 6 8.33% 2.40 0.60
Height: 6'1 A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 201 1 2 1 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 7
Name Pos. Age Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
Xavier Bernard D 18.77 Drummondville 7 0 3 3 3 12 0.00% 3.14 0.43
Height: 6'3 A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 204 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 2 0 0 0 5
Name Pos. Age Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
Jeremy Groleau D 18.97 Chicoutimi 5 0 3 3 3 0 0.00% 1.60 0.60
Height: 6'3 A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 201 0 0 0 2 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 7

Jocktan Chainey, a 2017 7th round selection of the New Jersey Devils, is now entering his 4th QMJHL season despite just recently turning 19 years old. He’s expected to be a key defender for the Halifax Mooseheads as they look to put together a strong season ahead of hosting the 2019 Memorial Cup. Through 5 games so far this season he’s earned a goal and 2 assists, all at even strength, while averaging 2.4 shots per game.

Xavier Bernard was drafted in the 4th round of the 2018 draft by the Devils. The large defender is hoping to solidify a top 4 and special teams role with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in his 3rd QMJHL season. Through 7 games this season he has 3 assists and is averaging 3.14 shots per game. He’s earned 2 of those 3 assists on the PP as he looks to take another step offensively.

Jeremy Groleau is an 18 year old defenseman whose birthday is later this month. He wasn’t drafted but impressed the Devils across multiple camps to earn an entry level contract. He’s entering his 4th QMJHL season, all with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, and is looking to cement his role as a top pairing defender for the team. He’s off to a productive start through 5 games with 3 assists and 1.6 shots per game.

OHL

Name Pos. Age Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP FO%
Mitchell Hoelscher C 18.71 Ottawa 8 1 4 5 3 8 10.00% 1.25 0.63 50.51%
Height: 6'0 A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 175 2 3 1 4 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 8

Mitchell Hoelscher, a 6th round selection from the 2018 draft, is a defensively responsible center that could have an untapped offensive game. He’s started out the season as the Ottawa 67’s 3rd line center but will see plenty of ice time at both even strength and on the PK. He’s 8 games into his 2nd full season of OHL action with a goal, 4 assists, and 50.51 FO%. So far all of his points have come at even strength.

WHL

Name Pos. Age Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH% SH/GP Pts/GP
Ty Smith D 18.56 Spokane 4 0 7 7 4 0 0.00% 3.25 1.75
Height: 5'11 A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 177 1 1 0 6 6 0 1 1 0 0 0 22

Ty Smith, the Devils most recent 1st round selection, is a supremely talented offensive defenseman who is also very capable at defending in his own end. He’s entering his 3rd WHL season with the Spokane Chiefs where he will be there top defenseman in all situations and captain the team. So far through 4 games he has 7 assists, 6 of which have come at even strength, and is averaging 3.25 shots per game. It should be a ton of fun to follow his progression this season.

NCAA

Jeremy Davies, a 7th round pick from the 2016 draft, has been a real breakout prospect of the Devils since joining Northeastern. He’s now set to enter his junior and likely final collegiate season. He’ll open up his season on Friday against Sacred Heart. I’m expecting more big things from the two-way defenseman.

Reilly Walsh is an offensively gifted defenseman that was drafted in the 3rd round back in 2017. He’s coming off of a productive, but somewhat inconsistent freshman season for Harvard in 2017-18. He’ll look to take on more responsibility at even strength while remaining a PP threat for Harvard as a sophomore. Hopefully he can continue to refine his offensive game while improving defensively. Harvard plays an exhibition against the USNTDP U18 team on 10/20 and opens their regular season against Dartmouth on 10/27. It looks like a lot of their games are going to be on ESPN+ so keep an eye out for that if your a subscriber.

Matt Hellickson, a 7th round selection in 2017, had a quietly solid freshman season for Notre Dame last year. He’ll look to build upon that and earn more than just a 3rd pairing role with occasional PP time this year. He was a -1 with 2 shots in a 4-1 exhibition loss to the USNTDP U18 team on Sunday. Notre Dame opens up their season against Mercyhurst on Friday.

Aarne Talvitie, a physical two-way center from Finland, was a Devils 6th round pick in the 2017 draft. He spent the past 2 seasons playing in the top junior league in Finland and is now ready to suit up for Penn State as a freshman. He played RW in their exhibition against Brock on Saturday and will make his full debut when Penn State opens their season against Clarkson on Thursday. It will be interesting to see how quickly he adapts to the North American game. He’ll certainly have the opportunity to play a lot at even strength and on special teams.

Russia

KHL

Name Pos. Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH SH% SH/GP Pts/GP FO% ATOI
Mikhail Maltsev C SKA St. Petersburg 3 0 0 0 -1 0 3 0.00% 1.00 0.00 0.00% 7:11
Height: 6'3 Age League A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 213 20.59 KHL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Name Pos. Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH SH% SH/GP Pts/GP Blks ATOI
Yegor Zaitsev D Dynamo Moscow 13 0 1 1 0 4 5 0.00% 0.38 0.08 4 11:19
Height: 6'0 Age League A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 187 20.45 KHL 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
Name Pos. Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH SH% SH/GP Pts/GP FO% ATOI
Nikita Popugaev LW Amur Khabarovsk 6 0 0 0 -3 2 1 0.00% 0.17 0.00 0.00% 6:39
Height: 6'6 Age League A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 201 19.90 KHL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

VHL

Name Pos. Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH SH% SH/GP Pts/GP FO% ATOI
Mikhail Maltsev C SKA-Neva 11 0 5 5 -2 6 27 0.00% 2.45 0.45 67.01% 15:57
Height: 6'3 Age League A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 213 20.59 VHL 4 4 0 4 4 0 1 1 0 0 0 13
Name Pos. Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH SH% SH/GP Pts/GP Blks ATOI
Yegor Zaitsev D Buran Voronezh 3 0 1 1 0 2 4 0.00% 1.33 0.33 N/A 23:16
Height: 6'0 Age League A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 187 20.45 VHL 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 9

MHL

Name Pos. Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH SH% SH/GP Pts/GP FO% ATOI
Nikita Popugaev LW Amurskie Tigry 4 3 1 4 2 0 8 37.50% 2.00 1.00 0.00% 18:21
Height: 6'6 Age League A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 201 19.90 MHL 1 4 2 1 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 14

Mikhail Maltsev is a large, skilled center that is great in the faceoff circle. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft and has been trying to break into the SKA St. Petersburg team in the KHL since last season. So far he’s made 3 KHL appearances this season but was used in a limited role on the wing, averaging just 7:11 per game. He’s spent most of the season in the second division VHL with SKA-Neva, playing a top 6 center role with 5 assists, 27 shots, and 67.01 FO% through 11 games while averaging 15:57.

Yegor Zaitsev was another one of the Devils 7th round picks in the 2017 draft. So far this season, the defenseman has made 13 KHL appearances for Dynamo Moscow with an assist, 4 blocks, and 11:19 average ice time per game. He also appeared in 3 VHL games with Buran Voronezh with an assist, 4 shots, and 23:16 average ice time per game.

Nikita Popugaev is a power forward prospect that is still trying to find his way. The 4th round pick from the 2017 draft returned to CSKA Moscow last season after a tough stint in the WHL. He began this season with CSKA, making 3 appearances for their MHL (junior league) team with 2 goals and an assist. He was then traded by CSKA to Amur Khabarovsk of the KHL. He’s played one MHL game for the organization and scored a goal. He’s played in 6 KHL games for Amur but averaged just 6:39 per game. It will be interesting to see what level he spends most of his time at this season as he is set to turn 20 next month. Hopefully he can continue to get KHL minutes with Amur and work his way up the line up.

Sweden & Finland

Name Pos. Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH SH% SH/GP Pts/GP FO% ATOI
Jesper Boqvist C Brynas IF 8 2 2 4 1 2 18 11.11% 2.25 0.50 N/A 16:57
Height: 6'0 Age League A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 181 19.96 SHL 1 3 1 2 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 26
Name Pos. Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH SH% SH/GP Pts/GP FO% ATOI
Fabian Zetterlund RW Farjestads BK 6 0 0 0 -3 4 8 0.00% 1.33 0.00 N/A 9:17
Height: 5'11 Age League A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 196 19.14 SHL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Name Pos. Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM SH SH% SH/GP Pts/GP FO% ATOI
Eetu Pakkila LW Karpat U20 14 4 7 11 1 0 80 5.00% 5.71 0.79 50.00% 19:04
Height: 6'0 Age League A1 Pts1 EVG EVA EV Pts PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts NHLe
Weight: 172 19.03 Jr. A SM-liiga 3 7 2 4 6 2 3 5 0 0 0 6

Jesper Boqvist is perhaps the most skilled forward out of these prospects. The 2nd round pick from 2017 is a crafty player that possesses plenty of moves to make defenders look silly on the ice. He’ll turn 20 in a few weeks but already has a fair amount of experience at the SHL level for Brynas IF. Injuries cut his season short last year so hopefully 2018-19 brings him better luck. He’s already off to a solid start with 2 goals, 2 assists, 18 shots, and 16:57 average ice time through 8 games. I am really excited about following Boqvist this year.

Fabian Zetterlund is a hard nosed forward that isn’t afraid to play a north-south game or go to the dirty areas to create offense or win puck battles. He just turned 19 in late August and was drafted by the Devils in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft. He’s still working his way up the Farjestads BK line up but is averaging 9:17 per game over 6 games to start his 2018-19 season. It will be interesting to see if he can accomplish that or if he’ll stay in a depth role, which could still be a valuable experience for a player of his age. He did have a short term loan to an Allsvenskan (second division) team last season, so perhaps another move like that could be in the cards for some point in the season.

Eetu Pakkila, drafted by the Devils in the 7th round of the 2018 draft, is a Finnish LW that is expected to be a standout player in their top junior league, similar to Talvitie a season ago. He’s already off to a hot start at as a key player for Karpat with 4 goals and 7 assists in 14 games while averaging 5.71 shots and 19:04 per game. He’s on a junior contract but did make an appearance for the senior team last season, so I wonder if that could be a possibility later on in the season.

Switzerland

Gilles Senn was drafted by the Devils in the 5th round of the 2017 draft at the age of 21. He’s currently in the final year of his contract with HC Davos, where he was the main goaltender the past 2 seasons. Unfortunately, he managed to be about average to below average those 2 seasons in the NLA and has been relegated to back up duty to start this season in favor of NHL vet Anders Lindback. He is yet to make an appearance this season though I suppose he’s bound to get some domestic cup games and spot starts. Hopefully he can win the starting job back at some point and prove he’s ready to take that next step to North American hockey.

Akira Schmid was drafted in the 5th round of the 2018 draft by the Devils. He was set to make the move to the WHL for the 2018-19 season after being selected by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Unfortunately, his WHL career would last just a single game where he gave up 7 goals on 27 shots. He was subsequently waived by the team and is rumored to be heading back to the SCL Tigers and their junior team Langnau U20. Hopefully he can rebound from a tough start to his 2018-19 season.

Your Take

Which prospects are you most excited about following this season? Do you have any specific expectations for any of these players? Do you have any early season concerns about any of these prospects? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!