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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 11/16/21

This week’s prospect update features the Utica Comets improving to 10-0, Luke Hughes tearing up the NCAA, and Arseni Gritsyuk adding 3 goals to his KHL tally.

Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils
Nico Daws picked up 2 more wins last week for Utica to give him a league leading 6 on the season in the AHL. His .936 SV% ranks 5th among qualified goaltenders and trails teammate Akira Schmid, whose .957 SV% leads the league.
Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome to the 5th week of the 2021-22 New Jersey Devils prospect update! This week’s action saw the Utica Comets extend their season opening winning streak to 10 games behind some great goaltending from Nico Daws and Akira Schmid. It also saw Luke Hughes continue to impress as a freshman for Michigan. Shakir Mukhamadullin and Jakub Malek also played in international tournaments for Russia and the Czech Republic respectively. Also, Arseni Gritsyuk returned from injury and immediately continued to produce for Avangard in the KHL. Let’s check in on each prospect now.

OHL

Chase Stillman had an even rating, 5 shots, and won 8/18 faceoffs (44.44%) across 2 games last week. He did score the only goal in the shootout in Friday’s victory over North Bay.

NCAA

Patrick Moynihan had a PP assist, even rating, 2 PIM, and 4 shots across 2 games last week. The assist came in Providence’s 6-4 victory over UConn on Saturday and snapped a 7 game streak without a point.

Case McCarthy has continued to produce from the blue line for Boston University. Across 2 games against UMass, McCarthy had 2 goals, an even rating, and 6 shots as he plays on the right side of the top pair. He now has points in 4 of his last 5 games with 4 goals and an assist during that stretch. His goal on Saturday was the game winning goal in overtime. You can check those goals out below:

Artem Shlaine had an assist, +1, 3 shots, and won 17/29 faceoffs (58.62%) across 2 games.

Cole Brady made 32 saves on 36 shots in Arizona State’s 5-3 loss to Quinnipiac on Friday. He didn’t play in their 5-2 loss to Quinnipiac on Saturday.

Ethan Edwards had an assist, even rating, and 2 PIM in Michigan’s 5-1 victory over Penn State last Thursday. He didn’t play in their 6-2 victory over Penn State on Friday.

Luke Hughes had an even rating and 3 shots in Thursday’s game for Michigan. On Friday, Hughes had 2 goals, an assist, +3, and 2 shots. You can check out both of those goals and his assist below. He’s been as high end of a prospect as advertised and it’s fun to watch.

Hughes is currently tied-4th in scoring among defensemen with 13 points in 12 games. His 1.08 points per game rate ranks tied-3rd among defensemen (minimum 10 GP). Going back to the 2012-13 season, his 1.08 points per game rate ranks 3rd among defensemen in their draft+1 season. He’s behind Owen Power (1.50 so far in 2021-22) and Adam Fox (1.14 in 2016-17). He’s ahead of Quinn Hughes (1.03 in 2018-19) and Zach Werenski (1.00 in 2015-16). It will be interesting to see if he can keep this up and how his post-draft season will compare to these talented defensemen.

Russia

KHL

Yegor Zaitsev was a +1 with 2 shots in 16:18 as Dynamo Moscow defeated Jokerit 3-1 yesterday.

Daniil Misyul had a goal, +2, and a shot in 14:55 as Lokomotiv Yaroslavl defeated Dinamo Minsk 7-3 yesterday. His goal was pretty nice, check it out below:

Arseni Gritsyuk had an impressive return to the line up after missing a few games due to injury. Across 2 games last week, Gritsyuk had 3 goals (2 EV, 1 PP), +2, 12 shots, and averaged 18:50. His 0.65 points per game rate leads all U21 players in the KHL right now. Historically, among U21 players, that points per game rate would rank 14th overall (minimum 20 GP). Check out his most recent goals below:

Shakir Mukhamadullin was with a young Russian roster for the Karjala Cup last week. The competition is a men’s tournament but Russia once again used it to evaluate a lot of their U20 players ahead of the World Junior Championship. Mukhamadullin played a large role for the team and finished with an assist, 2 PIM, and 5 shots. Russia went 1-2, picking up a win against the Czech Republic but losing to Sweden and Finland.

Zakhar Bardakov spent last week with the Russian B team that was participating in the German Cup. Russia lost all 3 of their games against Germany, Slovakia, and Switzerland. Bardakov didn’t put up any points, was a +1, and had 2 PIM.

Finland

Liiga, Mestis, & U20-SM-sarja

The Finnish hockey league schedule had a break due to international tournaments such as the Karjala Cup and U20 4 Nations Tournament. That means that Eetu Pakkila, Jaromir Pytlik, Topias Vilen, and Samu Salminen were off last week.

Sweden

SHL & J20 Nationell

Sweden also had a break for international hockey so Nikola Pasic and Viktor Hurtig had no games last week.

The Rest of Europe

Swiss National League & Czech 1.liga

Benjamin Baumgartner didn’t play last week as the Swiss hockey schedule also had a break in it to accommodate international hockey.

Jakub Malek played in 2 of the 3 games for the Czech Republic U20 team at the 4 Nations Tournament in Sweden. In their opening game on Friday, Malek made 26 saves on 31 shots in a 5-0 loss to Sweden. In their final game on Sunday, Malek made 25 saves on 29 shots in a 4-2 loss to Finland. Michal Postava played in Saturday’s game for the Czech Republic and made 24 saves on 28 shots in a 5-3 loss to Russia.

Postava has split this season between the Czech U20 league (5 GP, .908 SV%) and Czech 2nd division (7 GP, .911 SV%). It seems that the Czech Republic U20 depth chart in goal is Nick Malik, Jan Bednar, Jakub Malek, and Michal Postava at the moment. Malik is playing in Liiga (Finnish top flight) with 13 GP and a .924 SV%. Bednar is playing in the QMJHL with 13 GP and a .905 SV%.

AHL

Utica picked up 3 more wins last week to move to 10-0 on the season. They are tied with the Stockton Heat for the most points in the league (20), though the Heat have played in one more game. Utica is tied-5th in Goals For (42) with the Hartford Wolf Pack and Colorado Eagles who have each played 3 more games than the Comets. Utica has allowed the fewest goals in the league (18) with the next closest team being the Stockton Heat (24). The Comets PP is ranked tied-15th in the league at 19.2% while their PK is ranked 3rd at 87.5%.

Thursday 11/11: The Utica Comets defeated the Syracuse Crunch 3-1. Gabriel Fortier opened the scoring about midway through the 2nd period to give Syracuse a lead. A.J. Greer equalized just over a minute later with Graeme Clarke earning the assist. With 5:18 left in the 3rd period, Ryan Schmezler was stopped on a penalty shot by Amir Miftakhov. With just under 5 minutes to go in the 3rd period, Utica would snatch the victory. Fabian Zetterlund scored with assists going to Marian Studenic and Kevin Bahl. A couple of minutes later, Greer would pick up his 2nd of the game with Studenic and Zetterlund earning the assists on that goal. Nico Daws would make 30 saves on 31 shots to secure the victory. Utica was outshot 31-25 for the game but grew stronger as the game went on. Utica was outshot 19-7 in the 1st period, shots were tied at 6 each in the 2nd period, and Utica outshot Syracuse 12-6 in the 3rd period. The Comets went 0/3 on the PP and 1/1 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet and highlights:

Saturday 11/13: The Utica Comets defeated the Laval Rocket 5-3. Joe Gambardella led the way with 2 goals followed by Ryan Schmezler, Graeme Clarke, and Marian Studenic (EN) with a goal each. Frederik Gauthier and Jeremy Groleau had 2 assists each while Robbie Russo, A.J. Greer, Tyler Wotherspoon, and Nolan Foote had an assist each. Jean-Sebastian Dea, Cole Caufield, and Jesse Ylonen were the goal scorers for the Rocket. Clarke (6), Foote (5), Studenic (5), and Russo (4) were among the shot leaders for the Comets. Nico Daws made 33 saves on 36 shots. The Comets outshot the Rocket 37-36 for the game. The Comets went 0/4 on the PP and ‘1/2 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet and highlights:

Sunday 11/14: The Utica Comets defeated the Belleville Senators 4-1. The 1st period saw Utica get off to an encouraging start. Nolan Foote hit the post about 5 minutes in. About a minute later, Marian Studenic won possession in transition and found Aarne Talvitie in front of the net for a scoring chance. The Comets would eventually get on the board with just over 6 minutes left in the period when Ryan Schmezler one-timed a pass from Nate Schnarr past the Senators goaltender, Kevin Mandolese. Just after that goal, Akira Schmid stepped up to make a big save to preserve the lead. Also, Talvitie found Fabian Zetterlund on a 2v1 for another quality scoring chance. Talvitie took a roughing penalty late in the period but there didn’t seem like there was much in it to be fair.

Utica would add to their lead during a mostly tame 2nd period. Reilly Walsh found space in front of the goal, took a pass from Schnarr, and wristed one past the goaltender. Utica nearly found another goal as Graeme Clarke hit the post a few minutes later and then Ryan Schmezler nearly beat the goaltender with a second left on the clock. Prior to that, there was a notable non-call when Scmid was taken out while playing the puck behind his goal but the referees decided to keep the play moving.

The Comets would get their next goal early in the 3rd period when Zetterlund made a nice move to beat the Crunch defense and put Utica up 3-0. Studenic and Nikita Okhotiuk earned the assists on that goal. Utica would nearly go up on a PP midway through the period when Kevin Bahl drew a call, however he eventually retaliated while the Comets were up a man on the delayed call to cancel the advantage. Belleville put a lot of pressure on Schmid and the Comets defense in the final minutes of the game. Schmid came up big a few times but eventually surrendered a goal with 3:05 left and the extra attacker on the ice for the Senators. A.J. Greer would get it back with an empty net goal to clinch the win. Robbie Russo earned an assist on that goal and Schnarr picked up his 3rd assist of the game. Shot leaders for Utica included Schmezler (6), Zetterlund (4), Tyler Wotherspoon (3), Studenic (3), Samuel Laberge (3), and Bahl (3). Schmid made 30 saves on 31 shots. Utica outshot Belleville 32-21. The Comets went 0/2 on the PP and 1/1 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet and highlights:

Lineup:

25 Foote - 26 Schmelzer - 15 Gambardella

17 Greer - 33 Gauthier - 92 Clarke

20 Zetterlund - 77 Talvitie - 27 Studenic

39 Laberge - 16 Schnarr

88 Bahl - 5 Russo

23 Wotherspoon - 22 Walsh

38 Groleau - 82 Okhotiuk

2 Vukojevic

93 Schmid

35 Daws

PP1: Studenic, Schnarr, Foote, Clarke, Walsh

PP2: Zetterlund, Schmelzer, Gambardella, Bahl, Russo

PK1: Greer, Gauthier, Bahl, Russo

PK2: Foote, Schmelzer, Wotherspoon, Groleau

Scratches: De Leo (COVID Protocol), Flynn (Upper Body Injury), Stevens, McGrath

Utica will take on Rochester on Wednesday, Charlotte on Friday, and Rochester again on Saturday. They’ll look to try to tie Rochester’s record of 11 wins to open a season on Wednesday. This record goes back to the 1984-85 season.

ECHL

Mareks Mitens made 24 saves on 28 shots in a 5-4 victory for the Adirondack Thunder over the Utah Grizzlies on Friday. The following night, he made 18 saves on 22 shots in a 4-1 loss to Utah. He was rested for the Thunder’s 3-2 victory over the Grizzlies on Sunday.

Adirondack has 3 more games this upcoming week as they travel to Idaho to take on the Steelheads on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The Thunder are currently 3rd in the North Division with 9 points after 9 games played.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you last week? What do you think of Utica’s hot start? Which players have impressed you the most with Utica? What about the season that Luke Hughes is having? How about Arseni Gritsyuk? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!