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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 11/2/21

This week’s update is highlighted by Eetu Pakkila performing well in Liiga and Alexander Holtz lighting it up in the AHL. It is also highlighted by strong goaltending from Cole Brady, Jakub Malek, and Nico Daws.

NHL: JUL 14 Devils Development Camp
Eetu Pakkila had a goal and 2 assists in 2 Liiga games last week.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the 3rd week of the 2021-22 New Jersey Devils prospect update! Last week’s action included Artem Shlaine picking up his first points of the NCAA season, Eetu Pakkila producing in Liiga, and Alexander Holtz scoring 2 more goals in the AHL. Also, the three goaltending prospects in action last week, Cole Brady, Jakub Malek, and Nico Daws, all made quality starts. Let’s check in on the prospects now.

OHL

Chase Stillman had a goal, -4, shot, and was 1/4 on faceoffs in Sudbury’s 7-3 loss to Barrie last Thursday. Unfortunately, he was injured at some point in that game and has missed two games in a row now. Here is the latest update on his status:

NCAA

Patrick Moynihan was a -1 with 2 shots as Providence split a series with New Hampshire last weekend. Moynihan has been playing RW on the Friars top line but only has put up points in 2 out of 9 games this season. He has no points over his last 4 games.

Case McCarthy had a goal, -3, and 5 shots as Boston University lost both of their games to UMass Lowell last weekend. Here’s his goal that came in a 6v5 situation:

Artem Shlaine had a successful week. On Tuesday, he had an assist, +1, 2 shots, and won 7/17 faceoffs in UConn’s 5-3 victory over Northeastern. On Saturday, he had an assist, even rating, 2 PIM, shot, and won 8/13 faceoffs in UConn’s 4-1 victory over Dartmouth. These points were his first of the season after being held off the scoresheet in 5 games. Here’s his most recent assist:

Cole Brady made 37 saves on 39 shots as Arizona State defeated St. Thomas 4-2 on Saturday.

Ethan Edwards didn’t play in Michigan’s 3-0 victory over Wisconsin last Thursday. He did play in Friday’s 4-2 loss and was a -1 with a shot.

Luke Hughes had an even rating, 4 PIM, and 4 shots across both games against Wisconsin. This snapped a 6 game point streak to start his season.

Russia

KHL

Yegor Zaitsev had an even rating, 2 PIM, 3 shots, and averaged 16:19 across 3 games last week.

Daniil Misyul had an even rating, 2 PIM, 2 shots, and averaged 13:49 across 3 games last week.

Arseni Gritsyuk entered Friday’s game against Salavat Yulaev Ufa with a 4 game scoring streak (3 goals and 2 assists). Unfortunately, he played just 4:01 in that game after taking this hit from Salavat Yulaev Ufa captain Grigory Panin:

Panin has actually been Shakir Mukhamadullin’s most common partner this season. Last Wednesday, Gritsyuk was named to the Russian roster for the German Cup which is set to be contested between Germany, Russia, Slovakia, and Switzerland from November 11 to 14. Hopefully Gritsyuk is ok and able to continue his breakout season soon.

Shakir Mukhamadullin had a PP assist, +1, 4 shots, and averaged 15:18 across 3 games last week. You can check out his latest assist below:

Zakhar Bardakov continues to not play for SKA. As U21 players don’t count against roster limits in the KHL, it seems that he’s just one of the many young players not seeing any action for the club. This article took a look at the situation with SKA and how the overcrowded roster doesn’t benefit the players, club, or Russian hockey (based on the google translation). Hopefully at some point he can be transferred to SKA-Neva in the VHL or loaned somewhere to actually play hockey this season.

Finland

Liiga, Mestis, & U20-SM-sarja

Eetu Pakkila had his best week of the young season. Across 3 games, Pakkila had a goal, 2 assists, +3, 5 shots, and averaged 14:59. He’s been the 3rd line left wing, skating alongside Matias Mantykivi and Joona Ikonen for 8 straight games now. Since being placed on that line, Pakkila has 2 goals, 3 assists, +7, is averaging 2 shots per game, and is averaging 15:44 per game. Hopefully this is a sign that he’s heating up after a slow start to his season. Here’s his most recent goal:

Jaromir Pytlik had an assist, even rating, 10 shots, and averaged 17:08 across 2 Mestis games last week.

Topias Vilen had an assist, +1, 5 shots, and averaged 17:01 across 3 games last week.

Samu Salminen had a goal, 2 assists (1 EV, 1 PP), even rating, 2 PIM, 10 shots, 52.63 FO%, and averaged 20:09 across 3 games last week. All of those points came in Sunday’s game against TUTO U20.

Sweden

SHL & J20 Nationell

Nikola Pasic was a -1 and averaged 13:18 across 2 games last week. He’s continued to be the 3rd line right wing since returning from injury last week.

Viktor Hurtig had a PP goal, +1, and a shot across 3 games last week.

The Rest of Europe

Swiss National League & Czech 1.liga

Benjamin Baumgartner returned to the Lausanne HC line up last Thursday after missing 3 games due to injury. In that game, he had an even rating, 2 PIM, 3 shots, and won 3/4 faceoffs in 7:17. On Saturday, the team increased his role as he had an even rating, 2 PIM, a shot, won 4/7 faceoffs, and played 20:19. Out of that 20:19, 6:11 was on the power play and 1:57 on the penalty kill. He skated on a line with veterans Michael Frolik and Jiri Sekac which should have been a good learning experience for him.

Jakub Malek continues to dominate in the Czech 2nd division. Last Wednesday, he made 24 saves on 25 shots in a victory over SC Kolin. He followed that up by making 31 saves on 33 shots in a victory over Draci Pars Sumperk on Saturday. He continues to lead the league in GAA (1.85) and SV% (.937). His Quality Start% of 78.57 is really good as well. Now this is the Czech 2nd division, so I don’t want to over-hype his performance too much, but still, it’s great to see him playing exceptionally well at that level. I hope he can keep it up.

AHL

Friday 10/29: The Utica Comets only played one game last week but did well to earn a 5-2 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. This improved Utica’s record to 4-0 on the season. Utica started out strong in the opening minutes when Tyce Thompson was stopped on a 2v1 by Lehigh Valley goaltender Samuel Ersson. Nico Daws started for Utica and had to be strong throughout the game as Lehigh Valley controlled most of the first two periods. Daws made a handful of nice saves and recoveries to finish with 31 saves on 33 shots. Lehigh Valley outshot Utica 33-22 over the course of the game.

The second period was really where the action started to pick up. Back to back careless penalties by Reilly Walsh and Nolan Foote put more pressure on Utica. Though the Utica penalty kill was able to kill off all 3 of the Lehigh Valley power plays in this game. Foote almost made up for his penalty midway through the second period when he was on a breakaway but was ultimately stopped by Ersson. In fairness to Foote, he was under a ton of pressure by the backchecking defenseman. Soon after that Lehigh Valley would jump out to a 2-0 lead late in the period. An icing led to a tired unit being stuck on the ice for Utica. The Comets lost the faceoff and the Phantoms went D to D with a one-timer that was deflected in front past Daws. German Rubtsov earned the goal with Linus Hogberg and Wyatte Wylie picking up the assists. About a minute and a half later, the Phantoms got their other goal when Hayden Hodgson got in front of Walsh, drove the net, and made a nice deflection off a pass by Rubtsov, to beat Daws. Egor Zamula also earned an assist on the play. Utica would finally get a power play about a minute later and that’s where they would start to pick things up. Though they didn’t score, both Jesper Boqvist and Alexander Holtz had really good looks on goal. Back at even strength, with 25 seconds left in the period, Nate Schnarr came up big once again for the Comets when he beat Ersson on a breakaway. The play occurred when Tyler Wotherspoon gathered a loose puck deep in the Comets zone, passed it to A.J. Greer, who then delivered a perfect stretch pass to Schnarr who took an angle to get behind the Phantoms defense.

The third period would be where Utica took over the game. Holtz tied the game just over a minute into the period when he started the breakout in the Comets zone, moved the puck to Boqvist who made a clean zone entry into the offensive zone, who then passed the puck to Chase De Leo who managed to get a shot on goal that led to a juicy rebound for Holtz to bury. Then a few minutes later, Nikita Okhotiuk gave the Comets the lead when he took advantage of a Phantoms turnover to get a clean zone entry and eventually deliver a nice snap shot from a tough angle past Ersson. Holtz would earn his second goal of the game with about 7 minutes left after Thompson cleared the defensive zone to spring De Leo and Holtz on a 2v1. Holtz buried De Leo’s pass to essentially finish the game for the Comets. Fabian Zetterlund who was notable all game for his tenacious, physical style, earned an empty net goal when he shot the puck from the defensive zone.

To recap, Holtz led the way with 2 goals followed by Okhotiuk, Schnarr, and Zetterlund with one each. De Leo had 3 assists followed by Thompson, Greer, Wotherspoon, Okhotiuk, Boqvist, and Aarne Talvitie with one each. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and line up:

Lineup:

7 De Leo - 90 Boqvist - 9 Holtz

25 Foote - 12 Thompson - 92 Clarke

20 Zetterlund - 77 Talvitie - 10 Flynn

17 Greer - 16 Schnarr - 13 McGrath

6 White - 82 Okhotiuk

88 Bahl - 5 Russo

23 Wotherspoon - 22 Walsh

35 Daws

93 Schmid

PP1: Zetterlund, Boqvist, Foote, Holtz, Walsh

PP2: Clarke, De Leo, Thompson, Flynn, Russo

PK1: Zetterlund, Talvitie, Bahl, Russo

PK2: Greer, Schnarr, White, Okhotiuk

Scratches: Gambardella, Schmelzer, Groleau, Stevens

News and Notes:

- Last Thursday, head coach Kevin Dineen named Ryan Schmelzer captain as well as Brian Flynn and Joe Gambardella as alternate captains. Schmezler’s leadership experience includes serving as captain of Canisius College in his final NCAA season in 2017-18 and as an alternate with the Binghamton Devils last season. Flynn previously served as captain of the University of Maine in his final NCAA season in 2011-12 and brings a wealth of professional experience from the past decade of his playing career. Gambardella was an alternate captain in his final two NCAA season with UMass-Lowell from 2015-17.

- Alexander Holtz (5 goals in 4 games) and Chase De Leo (5 assists in 4 games) have been leading the Comets offensively so far.

- A big reason for Utica’s strong start is a league best 6 goals allowed. To be fair, Utica has only played in 4 games while others have played up to 7. Still, Akira Schmid (.966 SV% in 2 games) and Nico Daws (.933 SV% in 2 games) have been sensational. Both goaltenders have posted Quality Starts in every game this season.

- The week ahead includes Utica’s first 3 in 3 of the season. On Friday they travel to take on Syracuse at 7 PM ET, on Saturday they host Toronto at 7 PM ET, and on Sunday they host Laval at 5 PM ET.

ECHL

Defenseman Michael Vukojevic and goaltender Mareks Mitens are currently with the Adirondack Thunder. On Wednesday, Adirondack defeated Worcester 6-2. Vukojevic was a +1 with 2 PIM and 2 shots. Mitens made 25 saves on 27 shots to earn the victory. On Saturday, Adirondack lost 3-2 to Reading in overtime. I forgot until looking at the boxscore, but overtime in the ECHL is up to 7 minutes long. Vukojevic was a -2. Mitens made 23 saves on 26 shots in 65:07. Adirondack also has a busy weekend ahead as they will travel to Newfoundland to take on the Growlers for 3 games in a row.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you this past week? What are your thoughts on Utica’s strong start? How soon do you think we will see Alexander Holtz with the Devils? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!