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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 2/18/20

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This week’s action was highlighted by the Devils acquiring a high-end prospect in Nolan Foote, news about Graeme Clarke’s return to the ice, and the strong play of Cole Brady in goal.

NHL: JUN 27 Tampa Bay Lightning Development Camp
Nolan Foote is the newest Devils prospect and instantly becomes on of their top ones. I look forward to seeing him in the red and black in the future.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 20th week of the 2019-20 New Jersey Devils prospect update saw the Devils trade for a high skilled, intriguing prospect in Nolan Foote, news come out that Graeme Clarke is nearing a return after missing most of the season, and Cole Brady step up to continue to be the best rookie goaltender in the USHL. Let’s take a look at how each prospect performed over the past week.

QMJHL

Xavier Bernard had 2 assists (1 EV, 1 EN), +7, and 3 shots across 2 games last week. He now has no goals, 10 assists, +25, 18 PIM, and 40 shots in 21 games with Sherbrooke. He had 4 goals, 8 assists, -3, 52 PIM, and 64 shots in 33 games with Charlottetown to start the season.

OHL

Mitchell Hoelscher had 2 goals, an assist, +2, 10 shots, and won 51.22% of his faceoffs across 3 games last week. He is currently 3rd on Ottawa in goals with 30, behind 2020 NHL Draft prospects Jack Quinn (45) and Marco Rossi (33).

Nikita Okhotyuk was a -2 with 10 shots across 3 games last week.

We finally have some great news to pass along on the Graeme Clarke front. Yesterday, Kenny Walls of TSN 1200 reported that Ottawa 67’s coach Andre Tourigny said that “Graeme Clarke is days away from returning.” Ottawa has 3 games this upcoming week on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Overall, they have 16 games left in their regular season so Clarke should have enough time to get back into the swing of things before the playoffs.

Kevin Bahl had 2 assists, +2, 2 PIM, and 8 shots across 3 games last week.

Michael Vukojevic had 2 PP assists, +2, 8 PIM, and 3 shots across 4 games last week. Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record reported that Vukojevic limped to the dressing room after a knee on knee collision in yesterday’s game but returned to the game.

WHL

Ty Smith had a goal, an assist, +2, 4 PIM, and 10 shots across 3 games last week. His 1.05 points per game rate ranks 4th among defensemen in the WHL. Check out his latest goal below:

Sunday’s trade of Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning saw the Devils acquire LW Nolan Foote, a 1st round pick of the Lightning in 2019. The 19 year old, 6’4, 200 lbs. power forward is in his 4th season with the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL where he is currently serving as captain. In his draft season of 2018-19, Foote had 36 goals and 27 assists in 66 games. He’s been limited to 27 games this season due to injury and WJC but has put up 15 goals and 18 assists. He helped Canada earn a Gold Medal at the most recent WJC where he had 3 goals and 2 assists in 7 games.

Corey Pronman of The Athletic (subscription required) had Foote ranked #48 in his midseason ranking of NHL prospects, thus slotting him in at #2 for New Jersey, just behind Ty Smith. He had plenty of praise for Foote’s hockey IQ, shot, and ability to use his large frame to win battles and drive to the front of the net. In the below tweet from this past December, he highlights Foote’s vision:

Mike Morreale of NHL.com had this to say about Foote’s game:

Lauren Kelly of SB Nation’s Tampa Bay Lightning blog Raw Charge, had this excellent post on Nolan Foote in August when he came in at #13 of their Top 25 Under 25. She praises Foote’s finishing ability, noting that he has a “heavy wrist shot” that features “a quick, almost instantaneous release, but he can also unload one-time bombs.” Foote’s intelligence in finding open areas of the ice was noted as well as his ability to play on both the PP and PK. I really liked reading that “his compete level is never in question” and that he is “always engaged whenever he is on the ice.” Finally, it is noted that his skating is still a work in progress. Lauren writes that “Foote’s skating lack agility and fluidity. He has strong edges and his top-end speed has improved greatly.” Hopefully he can keep improving that in his final junior season before he turns pro next year. I am really encouraged by how much I’ve read about his natural goal-scoring ability and am really satisfied that the Devils were able to land a prospect of this caliber.

Foote was consistently in the Kelowna Rockets line up from the start of the season thru 12/7/19 before leaving to prepare for and compete in the WJC with Canada. He returned on 1/10/20 but suffered a lower body injury that kept him out until yesterday. As David Trifunov reports for The Daily Courier, Foote “took two good hits early, and left the game midway through the first period.” Apparently the plan was for Foote to see how he reacted to real game play and then make a decision on whether or not to continue depending on how sore he was. As of right now, it seems like the Rockets, Devils, and Foote are all working together to err on the side of caution. Hopefully he’ll be fully healthy soon. Until then, enjoy this highlights package of him from his draft year in 2018-19.

NCAA

Reilly Walsh recovered from a lower body injury that caused him to miss one game. This past week he was a +1 with 8 shots across 2 games for #20 Harvard as they took on Yale and Brown. As usual, ESPN+ will have Harvard’s games this weeken when they take on Clarkson on Friday at 7 PM ET and St. Lawrence at 7 PM ET on Saturday.

Matt Hellickson had an assist, -3, and 4 shots as Notre Dame took on #18 Minnesota in a pair of games over the weekend. It appears that the Big Ten Network will have Notre Dame’s 6 PM ET game against Michigan on Friday and their 4 PM ET game against Michigan on Saturday.

Aarne Talvitie had an assist, +1, 2 shots, and won 54.55% of his faceoffs across 2 games last weekend as #11 Penn State split a series with Wisconsin. It looks like the Big Ten Network will have Penn State’s game against Minnesota at 8:30 PM ET on Friday and their 6:30 PM ET game against Minnesota on Saturday.

Tyce Thompson had a PP goal, PP assist, -1, 6 shots, and won 59.09% of his faceoffs across 2 games as #15 Providence took on Vermont last weekend. You can check out his latest goal below:

Patrick Moynihan had a PP goal, -2, and 9 shots across 2 games last weekend for #15 Providence. You can see his latest goal below:

Case McCarthy had a PP assist, +1, and 4 shots across 2 games last week as Boston University won both of their games against New Hampshire. He has been providing more offense as of late with a goal and 4 assists over his last 6 games.

USHL

Akira Schmid’s struggles continued as he made 24 saves on 29 shots in a loss to Lincoln on Friday. It’s too bad that inconsistent performances and injury have affected him so much this season after he had such a strong 2018-19 campaign where he had a .926 SV% in 37 games. Sioux City as a whole has struggled as they are last in the Western Conference and second to last in the USHL.

Cole Brady had a busy, but excellent week for Fargo. Brady made 22 saves on 23 shots in 38:45 of relief against Omaha on Friday. He followed that up with 23 saves on 25 shots in a loss to Omaha on Saturday. He capped off his week with 28 saves on 30 shots in a victory over Sioux City on Sunday. Brady finishes the week with .936 SV% across those 3 games. His .901 SV% ranks 9th among qualified goaltenders in the USHL and top among all rookie netminders.

Russia

KHL

VHL/MHL

Yegor Zaitsev had a PP goal, -1, and 3 shots while averaging 16:25 across 2 games last week.

Daniil Misyul continues to be out since suffering a puck to the face in a game on 2/3 against Dynamo Moscow.

Arseni Gritsyuk had one game this past week but the MHL website is down so I can’t retrieve his stats. In the meantime, check out this shift by shift breakdown of Gritsyuk’s game from Dylan Griffing of The 4th Line Podcast. The game he tracks Gritsyuk in is the Omskie Yastreby vs. Tolpar Ufa match from 1/6.

Finland & Sweden

Eetu Pakkila was a -2 with 3 shots and average ice time of 9:53 across 2 games last week.

Nikola Pasic was a -1 with 3 shots in 15:06 in his only game last week.

Your Take

What are your thoughts on the addition of Nolan Foote? What about the news that Graeme Clarke is close to returning? Which prospects stood out to you this week? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!