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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 12/21/21

This week’s update features the Utica Comets continuing their winning ways thanks to some clutch play from Fabian Zetterlund, Arseni Gritsyuk representing Russia in international hockey, and four Devils prospects preparing for the WJC.

NHL: NOV 24 Wild at Devils
Fabian Zetterlund’s strong play with the Utica Comets should see him back in New Jersey at some point this season.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the 10th week of the 2021-22 New Jersey Devils prospect update! This past week was light on action due to postponements, international hockey, and most of the college players having off. It was highlighted by Arseni Gritsyuk representing Russia in the Channel One Cup. It also featured Alexander Holtz, Luke Hughes, Shakir Mukhamadullin, and Jakub Malek getting ready for the upcoming World Junior Championship. Let’s check in on each prospect now.

OHL

Chase Stillman continued to be off the ice as Sudbury had both of their games last week postponed. They have now had 7 postponements in a row and have not played since November 28. Sudbury is scheduled to be off next week with their next game scheduled for December 29.

NCAA

Patrick Moynihan and Providence had last week off. They will resume their season on December 28 against Bowling Green.

Case McCarthy and Boston University had last week off. They will resume their season on December 31 against Brown.

Artem Shlaine and UConn had last week off. They will resume their season on January 2 against Harvard.

Cole Brady stopped all 17 shots he faced in 35:35 of relief in Arizona State’s 4-2 loss to Colorado College last Saturday. This was his first game action since December 4 and just second game action since November 12. Arizona State will be off until January 1 when they will take on Cornell.

Ethan Edwards and Michigan had last week off. They will resume their season on December 29 against Michigan Tech. A few days ago, Peter Robinson of NewJerseyDevils.com had this profile on Edwards. It features a couple of quotes from Edwards about his role and relationship with the Devils:

“My role here has grown,” said Edwards, “… it took some time for me to get the game to slow down in my mind, so there was an adjustment period.

He’s in regular contact with Eric Weinrich, the former Devils defenseman who is now a development coach with the club.

“I have a lot of runway ahead of me,” said Edwards. “I feel like I’m in a good spot.”

As expected, Luke Hughes officially made the USA World Junior Championship team. Team USA will take on Slovakia on Sunday to start the tournament. All of their games will be on the NHL Network and you can check out the full schedule here.

Russia

KHL & VHL

Yegor Zaitsev and Dynamo Moscow had last week off. They will be back in action today against HC Sochi.

Daniil Misyul and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl had last week off. They will be back in action today against Sibir.

Arseni Gritsyuk appeared in 3 out of Russia’s 4 games in the Channel One Cup last week. He had a goal which can be seen below. Russia ended up finishing in 2nd place with Finland taking home the Cup.

As expected, Shakir Mukhamadullin was officially named to Russia’s World Junior Championship team. Russia will open their tournament on Sunday against Sweden. Here is the full WJC schedule which notes that all the games will be on the NHL Network (USA) as well as TSN and RDS (Canada).

Zakhar Bardakov had an even rating and won 3/7 faceoffs in 14:49 in SKA’s 4-2 victory over Spartak Moscow yesterday.

Finland

Liiga, Mestis, & U20-SM-sarja

Eetu Pakkila had an assist, +1, and 2 shots in 13:01 of Ilves’ 4-2 victory over SaiPa last Friday.

Topias Vilen had an even rating in 14:14 of Pelicans’ 4-3 loss to KalPa last Friday.

Samu Salminen had a goal, an assist, +2, 2 PIM, 8 shots, won 36/61 faceoffs (59.02%), and averaged 22:13 across 2 games last week. Jokerit U20 will now be off until January 7.

Sweden

SHL, Allsvenskan, & J20 Nationell

Nikola Pasic had a goal, even rating, and 14 shots across 3 games last week. He’s being used in a 2nd line left wing role with his new club. Check out his goal below:

Viktor Hurtig and Mora IK J20 had last week off.

The Rest of Europe

Swiss National League, Czech Extraliga, & Czech 1.liga

Benjamin Baumgartner was a -2 and lost all 5 faceoffs he took while playing 11:59 in Lausanne HC’s 7-0 loss to SC Rapperswil-Jona Lakers yesterday.

Jaromir Pytlik and Rytiri Kladno had last week off. They will be back in action today when they take on Mountfield HK.

Jakub Malek will be representing Czechia in the World Junior Championship. They open their tournament on Sunday when they face Canada.

AHL

The Utica Comets won their only game last week to continue to stay on top of the AHL standings with a 18-1-2-0 record. They have the 12th best PP in the league at 20.0% and the 5th best PK in the league at 85.9%. They were scheduled to play Cleveland twice last week but only managed to play Friday’s game (shorthanded) due to COVID.

Friday 12/17: The Utica Comets defeated the Cleveland Monsters 3-2 in a thrilling come from behind victory. Ryan Schmezler opened the scoring late in the 2nd period with Tyler Wotherspoon and Reilly Walsh earning the assists. Cleveland would tie the game just 33 seconds later on a goal from Kevin Stenlund. With 1:28 left in regulation, Cleveland would take a 2-1 lead on a goal from Brendan Gaunce. Fabian Zetterlund then took over the game when he tied it with 38 seconds remaining with Chase De Leo and Wotherspoon earning the assists. Utica had a PP to start overtime and Zetterlund needed just a minute to score the game winning goal with Walsh and Nolan Foote picking up the assists. Zetterlund and Schmelzer led the team with 4 shots on goal each as Utica and Cleveland each put up 26 shots. Mareks Mitens started for Utica and made 24 saves to pick up the victory. Utica went 1/3 on the PP and 4/4 on the PK. Utica played the game with 10 forwards and 6 defensemen. Here is the gamesheet and Zetterlund’s goals:

News and Notes:

  • A reminder that Alexander Holtz will be representing Sweden at the World Junior Championship. They open their tournament when they take on Russia on Sunday.
  • I feel like it’s a matter of time until we see Fabian Zetterlund back in New Jersey. He put together an underrated season last year for Binghamton and is really breaking out for Utica this season. He already has more goals this season (8) than he had last season (7) and did it in half the amount of games (17). His points per game rate has gone up from 0.56 in 2020-21 to 0.88 this season. With his strong frame and physical game, I think he’s eventually going to fit in nicely in a bottom 6 role on the wing for New Jersey.
  • Reilly Walsh is another player who has increased his production this season. He already has more assists (13) this season than he did last season (10) in 12 less games. His points per game rate is also up from 0.45 last season to 0.81 this season. He’s been an asset on the PP with a goal and 5 assists. 4 of those 5 PP assists have been primary too.
  • Shoutout to Mareks Mitens for keeping goaltending a position of strength with Utica. With Utica’s depth at the position vanishing due to injury (Daws) and a callup (Schmid), Mitens has stepped in and delivered 2 Quality Starts.

Coming Up: Today’s game against Belleville has already been postponed so the only game they are scheduled for this week is Monday’s match against Rochester.

ECHL

The Adirondack Thunder had their 3 games against the Newfoundland Growlers postponed last week. They are scheduled to resume their season on December 27 against Trois-Rivieres Lions.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you last week? Which prospects are you most excited to follow at the World Junior Championship? What are your expectations for these prospects? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!