I am a big fan of the underdog. I mean, who’s not. Not dismissing the subject manner, but anyone that is breaking the ranks at the pro level is indeed the underdog, especially at the ripe young age of 19 years-old.
Michael Vukojevic has been one of the standouts on the blueline so far that has caught many eyes. The Oakville, ONT native has been active and stands out among several large defensemen during this abbreviated season for the Binghamton Devils as this particular one has an edge it would appear over Kevin Bahl and Nikita Okhotiuk.
Listed at 6’ 3”, 210 lbs., Vukojevic has been great with the puck and very poised while handling his own defensively as the rookie adjusts to the pro ranks, so far so good. I will say there is a real promise.
Vukojevic wore the A for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL last season and finished with five goals, 25 helpers in 63 games. He also helped capture the Gold Medal in 2018 for Canada.
With the suspended play of the OHL, he was allowed to sign an AHL contract with Binghamton for one year but is eligible to return to the OHL if their season resumes, however unlikely. Forward Graeme Clarke would also fit this category as the two BDevils have made the leap to the pros earlier than expected.
“Puck handling, the things you need to do be a good pro,” he said, when asked about areas of his game he’s working on. “This is what I want to do for a living. I don’t want to be just a good junior defenseman…there are things I need to keep working on now (in the short-term) for what helps in the long run.” ~ NHL.com
Vukojevic, a 3rd round draft pick in 2019 (#82 overall) by New Jersey has had 1 goal, 4 assists in 7 games, tied with Marian Studenic for fifth place overall with 5 points for the BDevils. He has been paired with fellow rookie Reilly Walsh and veteran Josh Jacobs on the blueline while landing on his own two feet and keeping the opposition in check despite his age.
I am confident in his ability outside another season in the OHL, as this has panned out so far with the Devils Organization with what I have seen during this unique situation during the pandemic. This will pay off more so than if he was facing an additional year in the OHL. Just use Ty Smith (I say this loosely) as an example as Yukojevic is right where he belongs in his early development.
Good things are coming from the rookie. I promise.
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