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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 2/25/20

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This week’s action was highlighted by Mitchell Hoelscher continuing to make a case for an ELC, Ty Smith remaining productive in the WHL, Tyce Thompson and Patrick Moynihan linking up to produce for Providence, and Cole Brady post another shutout in the USHL as he continues his nice run of form.

New Jersey Devils Prospect Headshots
Cole Brady picked up another shutout as he continues to play well in the USHL.
Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The 21st week of the 2019-20 New Jersey Devils prospect update saw Mitchell Hoelscher continue his impressive season for Ottawa, Graeme Clarke get another step closer to returning for the team, Ty Smith remain one of the most productive defenseman in the WHL, the Devils NCAA prospects move one step closer to conference tournament action, and Cole Brady continue to be a standout rookie goaltender in the USHL. Let’s take a look at how each prospect performed over the last week.

QMJHL

Xavier Bernard was a +2 with 9 shots across 3 games last week. Sherbrooke is currently 1st in the Western Conference and league with 96 points after 58 games. They have already clinched a playoff spot and the Central Division. They lead Moncton by 7 points in the league standings and have 10 games left to play in their regular season.

OHL

Mitchell Hoelscher had a PP goal, SH assist, -1, 2 PIM, 11 shots, and won 57.41% of his faceoffs across 3 games last week. Hoelscher has really taken a step forward in his development this season and is poised to earn his ELC with the Devils soon. Steven Ellis of The Hockey News had this article on CHL players that are still unsigned by their NHL organizations. Here is what he had to say about Hoelscher:

An energetic forward, Hoelscher has found new life with OHL Ottawa this season, scoring 30 goals and 66 points (he had just 22 goals and 70 points across his previous 137 games). Having a team chock full of talent helps, but Hoelscher himself has brought immense skill to the roster and is scoring at a better pace than ever before. The more responsibility he’s given, the better Hoelscher seems to play, and that’s valuable for a player set to turn pro next season. An energy guy with a renewed license to score makes him an attractive option for the Devils, but his lack of physicality could hurt his chances of making the NHL in a bottom-six role.

Brock Otten of OHL Prospects noted on twitter that we may see some of the unsigned players like Hoelscher sign after March 1:

Nikita Okhotyuk had an assist, +1, and 6 shots across 2 games last week. He missed Ottawa’s game on Thursday against North Bay but returned to the line up for games on Friday and Sunday so it must have been a minor issue. Ottawa has already clinched a playoff spot and currently lead the Eastern Conference and league with 87 points after 55 games played. They still have 13 regular season games to play.

Graeme Clarke continues to get closer to returning to action for the Ottawa 67’s. The team’s PR/media guy Alex Pilote reported on twitter that Clarke is no longer in a yellow “No-Contact” jersey in practice. As mentioned above, they have 13 regular season games left so their is still time for him to get some meaningful time before the playoffs.

Kevin Bahl was a -2 with 7 PIM and 6 shots across 3 games last week. It appears that the NHL Network will carry the Ottawa 67’s vs. Barrie Colts game on Saturday at 3:30 PM ET if you want to check out the Devils prospects on the 67’s.

Michael Vukojevic was a +3 with 2 PIM and a shot across 2 games last week. Kitchener currently leads the Western Conference with 79 points after 57 games played and has already clinched a playoff spot. They have 11 games left in their regular season.

WHL

Ty Smith had a goal, 2 PP assists, +6, and 10 shots across 3 games last week. Smith’s 1.05 Pts/GP is tied for 3rd among defensemen in the WHL. Spokane is currently 3rd in the US Division of the Western Conference with 75 points after 58 games played. They have already clinched a playoff spot and have 10 games left in their regular season.

Nolan Foote remains out due to injury but had an eventful week. On Wednesday he left Kelowna to go see the Devils medical staff in New Jersey. Here is what the Rockets President and General Manager Bruce Hamilton had to say about Foote’s status on Thursday:

“Nolan left today (Wednesday) for New Jersey to see their medical staff,” said Hamilton. “I spoke a number of times with the general manager there, and they’re fully prepared to do whatever they can do to get him ready play as soon as he can play.

“So he’ll go down there and go through a battery of tests, I’m sure with their medical team. Which doesn’t surprise me at all when you make a trade for the quality of player he is I would want to bring him in and have our doctors see him too.”

Also, the Rockets fired Nolan’s dad, Adam Foote on Wedensday as the team has struggled a bit this season. They are currently in the 1st wild card spot in the Western Conference with 55 points after 56 games played. Hopefully Nolan Foote can return at some point during the final 12 regular season games the team has left. I forgot to mention last week, but Kelowna is hosting the Memorial Cup this season so the opportunity to play hockey in late May will be there for Foote no matter what the team does in the playoffs.

NCAA

Reilly Walsh had an even rating and 5 shots across 2 games last week as Harvard defeated # 7 Clarkson on Friday but lost to St. Lawrence on Saturday. Harvard concludes their regular season this weekend as they take on RPI at 7:30 PM ET on Friday which is on ESPN+ as well as a game against Union at 7:00 PM ET on Saturday, also on ESPN+. According to USCHO, Harvard is 23rd in the Pairwise rankings so they’ll need to win the ECAC tournament to make the NCAA tournament.

Matt Hellickson had a goal, EN assist, +2, 2 PIM, and 4 shots as Notre Dame defeated Michigan twice last weekend. He continues to play a lot of minutes in all situations as a veteran leader for Notre Dame. He earned praise from the announcers for his skating ability. It seems he has developed into a real solid college defenseman though it remains to be seen how that will translate to the next level. Notre Dame will conclude their regular season this weekend when they take on Michigan State on Friday and Saturday. That Friday game is at 7:00 PM ET and can be seen on NBCSN. Notre Dame is currently ranked 17th in the Pairwise rankings so they’re right on the bubble for making the NCAA tournament. A strong showing in the Big Ten tournament will really help them.

Aarne Talvitie had a goal, assist, +1, 6 shots, and won 2/4 faceoffs as #9 Penn State defeated #18 Minnesota twice last weekend to conclude their regular season. Penn State is currently 7th in the Pairwise Rankings and should have no issue making it into the NCAA tournament. I thought Talvitie continued to show progress offensively as he was very active in both games when it came to making plays and firing pucks towards the net. He showcased good instincts and hands on his goal that you can see below. He continues to be trusted with defensive assignments as he was out there to protect a one goal lead when Minnesota had the extra attacker in Saturday’s game at the end. Corey Masisak of The Athletic (subscription required) has this fantastic article on Talvitie where his return from a major knee injury is discussed as well as his two-way game and expectations.

Tyce Thompson assisted on both of Patrick Moynihan’s goals (1 EV, 1 PP) and was a -1 with 2 PIM, 2 shots, and won 63.89% of his faceoffs across 2 games last week. #19 Providence lost both games to Merrimack and find themselves 21st in the Pairwise rankings. They conclude their regular season with 2 games against #15 Maine split across the next 2 weekends. They’ll likely need a strong performance in the Hockey East tournament to make the NCAA tournament.

As mentioned above, Patrick Moynihan had 2 goals (1 EV, 1 PP), -2, 8 shots, and won his only faceoff attempt across 2 games last week. Moynihan is now tied for 4th among freshman in goals (13) in the NCAA. You can see his latest goals below:

Case McCarthy had a goal, +1, and a shot in Boston University’s loss to UConn on Friday. Unfortunately, he left that game early due to injury and missed Saturday’s game. He’s been on a nice offensive run lately with 2 goals and 4 assists over his last 7 games. Hopefully the injury isn’t anything serious. Boston University has 3 games left in their regular season across the next 2 weekends. They are 31st in the Pairwise rankings and would need to go on a miracle run in Hockey East tournament to get a spot in the NCAA tournament.

USHL

Akira Schmid did not play for Sioux City last week.

Cole Brady made 29 saves on 33 shots in an overtime victory over Sioux City on Friday. Brady posted a 22 save shutout over Sioux City on Saturday. He now has a .932 SV% over his last 5 games (4 starts). Yesterday, he was named the Great Western Futures’ USHL Goalie of the Week for his strong performances.

Russia

KHL

VHL/MHL

Yegor Zaitsev had an assist, even rating, 4 PIM, 4 shots, and averaged 16:36 across 2 games last week. Dynamo Moscow currently has 2 games left in their regular season. They are currently the 4th placed team in the Western Conference with 80 points after 60 games played.

Daniil Misyul continues to be out since suffering a puck to the face in a game on 2/3 against Dynamo Moscow. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl has 2 games left in their regular season. They are currently the 6th placed team in the Western Conference with 70 points after 60 games played.

Arseni Gritsyuk had a PP goal, 2 PP assists, +1, 4 shots, and played 14:20 in his team’s only game action last week. Omskie Yastreby has 4 games left in their regular season. They are currently 2nd in the Eastern Conference with 93 points after 60 games played.

Finland & Sweden

Eetu Pakkila was a +1 with 3 shots and averaged 11:53 across 3 games last week. Pakkila had a nice run with 6 points in 7 games when he returned to Liiga but now has just 4 points over his last 20 games. Still, it’s encouraging that a young player is playing consistently for a top team in Liiga. Ilves has 7 games left in their regular season. They are currently 3rd in Liiga with 101 points after 53 games played.

Nikola Pasic was a -1 with a shot in 15:07 of his only game action last week. He missed Friday’s game against Mora. BIK Karlskoga has 4 games left in their regular season. They are currently 4th with 90 points after 48 games played.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you this week? Do you think the Devils should sign Hoelscher to an ELC? Which prospects do you think are poised to make their mark in the playoffs? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!