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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 12/31/19

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It was another busy week for the NJ Devils prospects as 4 players competed in the World Junior Championship while Nikita Okhotyuk returned to action in the OHL and signed his ELC with New Jersey.

2019 NHL Draft - Portraits
It was a big week for Nikita Okhotyuk as he returned to the Ottawa 67’s line up after missing a few weeks due to injury. He also signed his ELC with New Jersey yesterday!
Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

The 13th week of the 2019-20 New Jersey Devils prospect update saw Ty Smith, Kevin Bahl, Nikola Pasic, and Daniil Misyul play in the World Junior Championship, Nikita Okhotyuk return to action for the Ottawa 67’s in OHL action and sign his ELC with New Jersey, while the junior and collegiate players resumed action.

WJC

It has been an up and down tournament for Canada, especially Devils prospects Ty Smith and Kevin Bahl. Canada defeated the US 6-4 to open their tournament on Thursday. Smith had a PP assist, +1, 2 shots, and logged 19:13. You can check out his assist below:

Bahl was a +1 with 2 PIM and logged 17:10 against the US. You can see him breakout the puck and set up a goal below:

In their second game of the tournament on Saturday, Canada would lose 6-0 to Russia in what was a disastrous day for all of the defensemen. Both Smith and Bahl made errors that lead directly to goals against in what was a day to forget for each prospect. Smith finished a -4 in 16:48 of ice time while Bahl was a -2 with a shot in 14:16. Canada did rebound with a 4-1 victory over Germany yesterday where Smith was a +1 in 19:41 of action. Bahl had an assist, +2, and 2 shots in 15:24. You can see his shot which led to him earning an assist below:

Canada has advanced to the playoff round but first will need to wrap up group play against the Czech Republic today at 1 PM ET which can be seen on NHL Network.

Frank Seravalli of TSN has this article about Bahl’s physical play after the below hit against the Americans. It also features quotes from his Canadian teammates:

Teammate Ty Smith, who was the Devils’ 17th-overall pick in the same 2018 Draft, called Bahl a “big rig” but said his skating is underrated.

“He moves very well for a big guy,” Smith said before the tournament began. “He’s turning into a two-way guy as opposed to just defensive.”

For this tournament, at least, any offence would be a bonus. Team Canada will be thrilled to give opponents a heavy dose of the Bahl-dozer on the team’s shutdown pair with Jacob Bernard-Docker.

“I remember we play Ottawa, it’s a line match against Bahl and their D are hard to play against,” said Flint’s Ty Dellandrea. “He’s a heavy guy and he hits hard.”

Nikola Pasic had an even rating, 2 shots, won 1/2 faceoffs, and played 15:07 in Sweden’s opening 3-2 victory over Finland on Thursday. In Sweden’s 5-2 victory over Switzerland on Saturday, Pasic was a -1 with 2 shots, won 2/3 faceoffs, and played 14:07. In yesterday’s 6-2 win over Kazakhstan, Pasic had an even rating, a shot, won 2/3 faceoffs, and played 14:18. Sweden has advanced to the playoffs and will be closing out group play against Slovakia when this post goes up.

It’s also been and up and down tournament for Russia and Daniil Misyul. He missed Russia’s opening game, a 4-3 loss to the Czech Republic, as they waited until after that game to officially register him for the roster. I’m not sure what the delay was, perhaps a minor injury concern or something. He made his debut on Saturday in Russia’s 6-0 victory over Canada where he was a +1 with 17:14. The smooth skating, puck moving defenseman even got under the skin of Canada’s Joe Veleno who eventually earned a one game suspension for head-butting the Russian defender. On Sunday, he was a part of Russia’s 3-1 defeat to the US with a -2, 12 PIM (check to the head), and played 10:16. Russia is currently in 4th place in Group B with 3 points. They will be taking on 5th place Germany (also 3 points) when this post goes up. That is a key game to determine who moves on to the playoffs and who could end up in the relegation round.

Akira Schmid is yet to dress for Switzerland. He hasn’t played in any official game since suffering an injury on 10/19 in USHL action and you have to think the Swiss are being cautious by going with goaltenders that have been active.

QMJHL

The QMJHL season is back underway and Xavier Bernard made his debut for Sherbrooke. Bernard was a -2 with 2 shots across both games last week.

OHL

Mitchell Hoelscher had 2 assists, +2, 2 PIM, 6 shots, and won 56.25% of his faceoffs across 2 games last week for Ottawa.

Nikita Okhotyuk has returned from an injury sustained on 11/8 to play in both of Ottawa’s games this past week. Okhotyuk had an assist, +5, 2 PIM, and 5 shots across both of those games. The Devils announced yesterday that they have signed Okhotyuk to a three-year, entry-level contract starting with the 2019-20 season.

Graeme Clarke is out long term following left shoulder surgery.

Michael Vukojevic had an even rating, 9 PIM, and a shot across both of Kitchener’s games last week.

WHL

NCAA

Reilly Walsh had a PP assist, even rating, 2 PIM, and 2 shots across 2 games against Arizona State this past weekend.

Notre Dame doesn’t return to action until Friday against Western Michigan. It appears you will be able to see Matt Hellickson in action as that game is on NBCSN at 7 PM ET.

Penn State and Aarne Talvitie return to action on Friday against Niagara. A few days ago, Acacia Aster Broder wrote this article for the Centre Daily Times about Talvitie’s success so far at Penn State. I recommend checking it out to get more of a glimpse into Talvitie both on and off the ice.

Tyce Thompson had a PP goal, even rating, 5 shots, and won 57.89% of his faceoffs in 2 games this weekend.

Patrick Moynihan had an even rating and 2 shots across 2 games this past weekend.

Case McCarthy had an even rating and 4 shots in Boston University’s 3-0 exhibition win over Concordia on Sunday.

USHL

The USHL season is back underway but Cole Brady and Fargo had a tough weekend against Lincoln. On Friday he made 36 saves on 41 shots in an overtime loss. The following night he made 28 saves on 32 shots in a loss.

Russia

KHL

VHL/MHL

Yegor Zaitsev was a -2 with with an average ice time of 15:41 across 2 games last week for Dynamo.

Arseni Gritsyuk had a PP goal, -4, 2 PIM, 18 shots, and averaged 20:46 across 3 games last week.

Finland & Sweden

Eetu Pakkila had an assist, +2, 6 shots, and averaged 11:51 per game across 3 games last week.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you this week? What are your opinions on the Devils prospects competing in the WJC? How do you feel about the Devils signing Okhotyuk to an ELC? Leave your comments below, thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!