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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 10/20/20

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The 2nd week of the 2020-21 prospect update was highlighted by Nick Merkley’s offensive outburst in Finland, Alexander Holtz and Jesper Boqvist keep being productive in Sweden, and Benjamin Baumgartner scoring a goal that was assisted by a legend.

Prince Albert Raiders v Kelowna Rockets
Nick Merkley had 2 goals and 2 assists in 3 games in Liiga (Finland) this past week. I couldn’t find a picture of him in a Devils uniform so enjoy this picture of him from his Kelowna Rockets days.

The 2nd week of the 2020-21 New Jersey Devils prospect update was an eventful one both on and off the ice. The COVID-19 situation in Quebec saw Dawson Mercer see his season paused for a couple of weeks while meanwhile in Slovakia, Marian Studenic’s team saw 23 members of the club test positive. On the ice there is good news - Nick Merkley had 4 points in 3 games in Finland while Alexander Holtz and Jesper Boqvist continued to be productive in Sweden. Let’s take a look at how each prospect did. A reminder that any prospect in the stats table with an * is a player that is out on loan.

QMJHL

Dawson Mercer did not play last week as the QMJHL had to shut down the East and West divisions until October 28 due to government restrictions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The QMJHL is comprised of 3 divisions, the East and West which are based out of Quebec, and the Maritimes division which is based out of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The Maritimes division, with the exception of the Moncton Wildcats, has been able to continue play. Mercer’s next game is scheduled for October 30 when his team will travel to Victoriaville.

It’s worth noting that the Quebec government is promising $12 million in funding for the QMJHL during the pandemic which will be divided among the 12 Quebec based teams.

Last Wednesday, Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News had this article on SI.com about Mercer that talks about him on and off the ice. His coach and GM had plenty of praise for him when asked what he likes about Mercer:

“Everything,” said Sags coach and GM Yanick Jean. “Everything he does on the ice, off the ice, everything he does as a person leadership-wise, we thought it was going to be really positive for our organization.”

“It’s the attention to detail,” Jean said. “He has skill, but he doesn’t just play with skill. He wants to get better and he works at it. He watches every shift on the iPad when he gets back to the bench.”

Mercer also spoke about being a leader and team player:

“It’s being there for everyone, not just yourself,” Mercer said. “The guy sitting next you is going to help you just as much as you’re going to help him. I want them to feel like that. I’m going to push him to be better and he’s going to push me back, it doesn’t matter if he’s 19 or 16. And in practice, we’re going to go 100 percent at each other, play like it’s a game situation and have that compete level. In practice I like to push the play and make sure everyone knows there’s no slacking off.”

OHL

The OHL still hasn’t announced a schedule so for the time being Graeme Clarke, Michael Vukojevic, Jaromir Pytlik, and Nico Daws are not playing.

NCAA

The Big 10 is planning to start their season on November 13 and Arizona State is expected to join them by playing each Big 10 team multiple times. This affects Matt Hellickson (Notre Dame), Aarne Talvitie (Penn State), and Cole Brady (Arizona State). Hockey East is hoping to start on November 20. That affects Tyce Thompson and Patrick Moynihan (Providence), Case McCarthy (Boston University), and Artem Shlaine (UConn).

Matt Hellickson was named an alternate captain for Notre Dame a few days ago.

Keep an eye on Patrick Moynihan who just participated in the US National Junior Team Evaluation Camp for the upcoming 2021 World Junior Championship. His coach at Providence, Nate Leaman, has been selected to coach the US team in the tournament. Given how highly his peers at the USNTDP thought of Moynihan during his pre-draft seasons, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the team.

Case McCarthy was also at the US National Junior Team Evaluation Camp with Moynihan.

UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh recently had this to say about Artem Shlaine:

“From the little time I’ve spent with [Shlaine] on the ice,” Cavanaugh said, “his hockey IQ and his ability to know what he’s going to do with the puck before he gets it is really, really special. He’s one of those guys where you say, ‘how did he get that pass through?’”

USHL

Ethan Edwards was a +1 with a shot in Sioux City’s 1-0 overtime victory over Sioux Falls to start their pre-season. Akira Schmid did not dress. Mason Langenbrunner (Jamie’s son) and Jackson Nieuwendyk (Joe’s son) also play for Sioux City. They have 4 more pre-season games starting this Friday before opening their regular season on November 7.

Russia

KHL

VHL & MHL

Yegor Zaitsev had an even rating, 3 shots, and played 12:47 in Dynamo’s 2-1 loss to CSKA on Sunday.

Daniil Misyul had an even rating in 7:11 in Lokomotiv’s 1-0 victory over Dinamo Minsk on Friday. He didn’t play in their 3-2 shootout victory over Dinamo Riga on Wednesday.

Arseni Gritsyuk had an even rating and played just 3:07 in Avangard’s 3-0 loss to Metallurg Magnitogorsk on Wednesday. Since playing more than 10 minutes per game in his first 2 KHL games, he has played under 4 minutes per game in his 3 recent appearances. He didn’t play in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Salavat Yulaev Ufa.

Nikita Popugayev didn’t play in Dynamo’s game against CSKA on Sunday in the KHL. He now hasn’t played in their last 4 KHL games or in the VHL team’s last 3 games. I haven’t seen anything about him being injured so it’s frustrating to see him on the sidelines.

Shakir Mukhamadullin was a -2 with 5 shots and average ice time of 12:56 across 3 games last week.

Yegor Sharangovich was a -1 with 25 PIM (high sticking, game misconduct), 6 shots, 56.25 FO%, and average ice time of over 16 minutes per game across 2 games last week. In fact, he played 24:08 in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Spartak. I noticed that he had been listed as an alternate captain in Dinamo’s first 13 games but the past 2 games have seen him listed as the captain. It looks like he may just be covering for Rob Klinkhammer who has worn the “C” but hasn’t been in action the past couple of games.

Mikhail Maltsev hasn’t played since playing just 7:54 back on October 7. He has now missed 5 games in a row and I can’t help but wonder if he could be nursing an injury. I haven’t been able to find anything concrete yet though.

Finland

Liiga

Eetu Pakkila was a -2 with a shot while averaging 9:02 per game across 2 games last week.

It appears that Nick Merkley has settled in well in Finland after not scoring a point in his first 4 games. This past week he had 2 goals, 2 assists, +4, 2 PIM, and 12 shots while averaging 17:43 per game across 3 games. All of these points came at even strength and only one wasn’t primary. You can see his goal against HIFK below:

Janne Kuokkanen had a PP assist, -1, and 2 shots in 15:08 in a 5-1 loss to KalPa on Friday.

Sweden

SHL & Allsvenskan

Nikola Pasic had a goal, +3, 4 shots, and average ice time of 11:33 across 2 games last week. He turned 20 years old on Friday and signed an extension with Linkoping through the end of the 2022-23 season. This won’t affect the Devils trying to bring him over before then, but it does give the player and his current club some stability.

Alexander Holtz had a goal, PP assist, even rating, and 2 shots while averaging 15:35 across 2 games last week. You can see the goal and assist below:

Jesper Boqvist had a PP goal, assist, -1, 5 shots, and averaged 16:23 per game across 3 games last week.

Switzerland & Slovakia

Benjamin Baumgartner had a goal (assisted by Joe Thornton), +2, 2 shots, and won 1/3 faceoffs in 14:56 in HC Davos 9-2 victory over SC Rapperswil-Jona Lakers on Saturday.

Marian Studenic and HC Slovan Bratislava had the week off after 18 players and 5 members of the coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you this past week? What do you think about the week’s that Merkley and Holtz had? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!