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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 1/8/19

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Week 13 of the 2018-19 prospect update saw Aarne Talvitie lead Finland to a WJC Championship, Ty Smith go back to being on fire in the WHL, and Gilles Senn make his North American hockey ambitions clear.

Finland v United States: Gold Medal Game - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship
Aarne Talvitie captained Finland to a Gold Medal at the 2019 World Junior Championships.
Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

The 13th week of the 2018-19 prospect update is here. It’s highlighted by Aarne Talvitie leading Finland to the 2019 World Junior Championship over USA. The playoff round of the tournament proved to be exciting with Switzerland shocking Sweden 2-0 in Quarterfinal action. Finland also knocked out Canada in a wild 2-1 overtime thriller that saw Finland tie the game with 47 seconds left in regulation. Canada would have a couple of chances to get the win in overtime but a Maxime Comtois penalty shot miss followed a few shifts later by a Noah Dobson broken stick on what could’ve been the game winning goal turned the puck over to Finland. Aarne Talvitie would end up rushing the puck up the ice, into the Canadian zone defended by Ty Smith, and find Toni Utunen for the game winning goal. Russia and the USA moved past Slovakia and the Czech Republic without much drama to cap off the Quaterfinal round.

The US would edge out Russia 2-1 in the first Semifinal match as Cayden Primeau would once again come up big with 34 saves on 35 shots for the Americans. Switzerland wasn’t able to find any more magic to keep their run alive as they lost to Finland without too much of a fight. Akira Schmid would come into that game and make 23 saves on 25 shots in 52:17 of relief, but the damage was already done.

Russia would take home the Bronze Medal with an easy win over Switzerland that Schmid didn’t feature in. The US would fall in the Gold Medal game to Finland 3-2. The Americans appeared to jump out to the early 1-0 lead but a “crease violation” would take it away. Jesse Ylonen would get the opening goal for Finland when he scored on the PP midway through the 2nd period. Finland would go up 2-0 in the 3rd period with a goal by Otto Latvala. Sasha Chmelevski quickly pulled the US back into one goal and right after that Josh Norris would tie the game at 2-2. Projected top 2 pick for the upcoming 2019 draft, Kaapo Kakko, would Finland ahead with about a minute and change remaining in regulation. They were able to hold on to capture the title after a well-played tournament.

WJC

Ty Smith was a -2 in 26:20 against Finland in Quarterfinal action as Canada lost a heartbreaking game on home ice. He was on for both the tying and game winning goals but I can’t put too much blame on him. A crazy bounce past Michael DiPietro tied the game for Finland and the game winning goal was the result of a broken play. I thought he played that as well as you could expect a 18 year old in that situation. Overall, he seemed to gain more trust from the coaching staff and saw his minutes increase later in the tournament. While his offensive production wasn’t there, I feel like he had a solid tournament.

Aarne Talvitie had an assist, +2, and 4 shots in 24:12 as Finland defeated Canada in a thrilling overtime game. He was instrumental on the game winning goal, getting himself open for the breakout pass, driving the puck into the zone, and finding his teammate for the goal. In the Semifinals against Switzerland he had 2 goals, +2, and 6 shots in 18:36 as they made easy work of the Swiss. He was limited to 10:54 in the Championship game due to an early injury. Still, it was encouraging to see him fight through and stay in the game for his team as they captured Gold. With 4 goals and 3 assists in 7 games, along with a Gold Medal, it’s right to say that Talvitie really excelled under the spotlight of the WJC’s and representing his team as Captain.

Fabian Zetterlund was a -1 with 2 PIM and 4 shots in 19:36 as Sweden was upset by Switzerland in the Quarterfinals. Overall, his production wasn’t there this tournament despite playing a heavy role and managing to put up 2.6 shots per game. He is coming off of an injury and these quick tournaments can see the puck luck go against you. While he finished with no points in 5 games, I thought he played a bit better than what the basic statline would suggests.

Akira Schmid made 23 saves on 25 shots in a 52:17 relief appearance after Finland jumped out to a 4-0 start early in the 1st period of the Semifinal game on Friday. Overall he made 3 appearances (2 starts) in the tournament. His best game was when he made 29 saves on 32 shots in a loss to Canada in group play. He also made 34 saves but on 41 shots against Russia in the group play.

QMJHL

Jocktan Chainey missed both of Halifax’s games this past week due to an upper body injury. He has now missed 4 consecutive games for the Moosehads.

Xavier Bernard was a -1 with 2 PIM and 3 shots across 2 games last week for Charlottetown. That brings him up to 2 assists, 4 PIM, +4, and 8 shots in 4 games since joining from Drumondville. According to Prospect-Stats, among QMJHL defensemen with at least 30 games played, Bernard has the 5th highest Goals For% at 68.85% at 5v5.

Jeremy Groleau was a -2 with 7 shots across 3 games last week for Chicoutimi. There were some rumors that Chicoutimi was going to move him to help re-tool but they’ve opted to keep the veteran QMJHL defender.

OHL

Mitchell Hoelscher was a +1 with 2 shots and won 58.06% of his faceoffs in 2 games for Ottawa this past weekend. While he has now gone 4 games without a point since his hot streak, it’s important to note that he’s back in his depth role for Ottawa.

WHL

Ty Smith returned from WJC action to play in 2 games this past weekend for Spokane. In Friday’s games against Kamloops he had a PP assist, even rating, and 4 shots. In Saturday’s game against Kootenay he had 4 assists (3 EV, 1 PP), +3, and a shot. He still leads all WHL defensemen in scoring with 44 points in just 30 games. For reference, the very talented Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Calen Addison is 2nd with 41 points in 38 games. Smith’s 41 assists is good for 4th among all WHL skaters.

NCAA

Jeremy Davies was a -1 with 5 shots in Northeastern’s 1-0 loss to Merrimack last Saturday.

Reilly Walsh had an assist, +2, and a shot in Harvard’s 3-2 overtime victory over RPI last Friday. Harvard plays Boston University tonight at 7 PM ET, Princeton on Friday at 7 PM ET, and Quinnipiac on Saturday at 7 PM ET. All of those games are scheduled to be available on ESPN+.

Matt Hellickson was a -1 with 2 shots in Notre Dame’s 4-2 loss to Michigan on Saturday. NBCSN is scheduled to have Notre Dame vs. Minnesota on Friday at 7 PM ET. SNY is scheduled to have the final game of the weekend set on Saturday at 7 PM ET.

Aarne Talvitie is set to return to Penn State, after winning WJC Gold for Finland, for the Nittany Lion’s 2 game series against Michigan State this weekend. You can check out Friday’s game at 8 PM ET on Big Ten Network.

USHL/NAHL

Akira Schmid is set to be back in goal for Omaha this upcoming weekend as they have a 3 in 3.

Russia

KHL

VHL

MHL

Mikhail Maltsev didn’t have any game action last week for SKA.

Yegor Zaitsev had an even rating, shot, block, and average ice time of 10:46 across 2 KHL games last week.

Nikita Popugaev had a -1, 2 shots, and average ice time of 11:26 across 2 KHL games last week. Please note that the KHL has him listed as playing in 28 games while my total has him in 27. It seems he’s getting credit for playing against Kunlun RS on 12/17/18 despite not taking a shift in the game.

Sweden & Finland

Jesper Boqvist was a -1 with 17:54 played in his only game action of the past week. Mans Karlsson of EP Rinkside has this article about the impressive season Jesper Boqvist is putting together. The article mentions that the Devils are closely tracking his progress and has this interesting quote from his linemate, Joel Kellman:

“He is fantastic. He plays with such speed, technique, and smartness. Right now, it’s just fun to watch him play. But I can’t say I’m surprised that he is this good right now. He has qualities to become just as good as anyone. He is going to be a top player in the NHL in the future.”

Fabian Zetterlund could be back in the Farjestad BK line up following his return from the WJC on Thursady. This game is scheduled to air on US television at 1 PM ET on Thursday on Eleven Sports.

Eetu Pakkila had 3 goals, an assist, +6, 14 shots, and won all 3 faceoffs he took across 2 games last weekend. All of the goals came in a hat trick performance against HPK U20.

Switzerland

Gilles Senn made just 12 saves on 16 shots in a loss to HC Lugano last Wedensday. He was better in a relief apperance that lasted 31:17 on Sunday against Geneve-Servette HC where he had 19 saves on 21 shots. After articles came out last week suggesting that he would be open to resuming contract extension talks with HC Davos, new articles came out this week announcing his plans to join the Devils organization next season. According Blick (and translated by google), Senn announced that he will leave his Swiss club for the Devils. He also mentions that the Devils have often been in contact with him to monitor his progress.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you this week? Did the WJC change your opinions about Smith, Talvitie, Zetterlund, or Schmid? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!