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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 3/16/21

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This week’s action saw conference tournaments get underway in the NCAA, the KHL Gagarin Cup playoffs move past the opening round, and Eetu Pakkila score a nice goal in Finland.

2019 NHL Draft - Portraits
Tyce Thompson continues to help lead the way for Providence.
Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

Welcome to the 23rd week of the 2020-21 New Jersey Devils prospect update! More news about a possible OHL season is starting to come out. Conference tournaments have started in the NCAA with mixed results for the Devils prospects. The KHL playoffs have advanced to the next round with Yegor Zaitsev playing a key role for Dynamo Moscow. This week was also highlighted by Eetu Pakkila scoring a smooth goal in Liiga. Let’s take a look at how each prospect performed over the past week.

QMJHL

Dawson Mercer and Chicoutimi were off last week. They play on Friday and Saturday this week against Sherbrooke and Baie-Comeau respectively. Mercer’s 1.53 Pts/GP rate ranks 6th in the league (min. 15+ GP).

OHL

Information on a possible OHL season is starting to come out now. I first came across this article in The Sault Star last Wednesday. The focus of the article is how Soo Greyhounds General Manager Kyle Raftis is preparing for the season to start. Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister for heritage, sport, tourism and culture, had some interesting comments:

“I’m optimistic they (the OHL) will get games in,” said Ontario’s minister for heritage, sport, tourism and culture, discussing her belief an abbreviated 2020-2021 season would be played.

“My team is feeling very confident that we’ve got the OHL to a place where they will be able to safely play with (body) contact providing certain conditions,” MacLeod added.

In the article, Raftis mentions that as soon as they know the details on the season, they will reach out to all the players, including Jaromir Pytlik and Nick Malik who are still in the Czech Republic. Hopefully this means Pytlik will actually have an OHL season this year.

Yesterday, I came across this article from CTV News which mentions that the OHL is working towards a plan that features hub cities and bubbles. In that article, Lisa MacLeod notes, “that financial aids for the league will be announced Wednesday.”

NCAA

Matt Hellickson had an assist, -1, and a shot as 4th seeded Notre Dame was upset by 5th seeded Penn State 6-3 in the Big Ten Quarterfinals this past Sunday. Notre Dame’s season is likely over but they will have to wait and see if they are named to the tournament on Sunday. If this is it, Hellickson finishes his career at Notre Dame with 13 goals and 39 assists for 52 points along with a -1 rating and 54 PIM in 146 games. He’s proven himself to be a serviceable defender and leader at this level. I think he could have a successful career in pro hockey but at the minor league level in North America or perhaps he could try to see how does in Europe. The Devils hold his rights until 8/15/21.

Aarne Talvitie was a +2 with 2 shots and won just 3/22 faceoffs in Penn State’s upset over Notre Dame last Sunday. Yesterday, he had an even rating, 3 shots, and won just 7/22 faceoffs in 5th seeded Penn State’s 4-3 OT loss to top seeded Wisconsin in the Big Ten Semifinals. Talvitie’s junior season has ended as Penn State needed to win the Big Ten Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament. It will be interesting to see if the Devils try to sign him or if he will opt to head back for his senior season. The Devils hold his rights until 8/15/22. Talvitie’s offense hasn’t developed as hoped since suffering an ACL tear that required surgery from the World Junior Championship during his freshman season. His Pts/GP rate has gone from 0.94 as a freshman to 0.63 as a sophomore to 0.62 as a junior. I still think other aspects of his game, notably his physicality, defense, and compete level could see him turn into a solid 4th line wing that could eat some PK time at the NHL level eventually.

Tyce Thompson had a goal, assist, +2, 6 shots, and won 2/4 faceoffs as 5th seeded Providence defeated 4th seeded UConn 6-1 in the Quarterfinals of the Hockey East Tournament. Earlier in the week, Thompson was named a 2nd Team Hockey East All-Star for the 2nd consecutive season. Providence will face 3rd seeded UMass in the Semifinals tomorrow. Check out his latest goal below:

Patrick Moynihan had an assist, +3, and 4 shots in that win for Providence.

Case McCarthy was a -2 with 2 shots in 2nd seeded Boston University’s 2-1 loss to 7th seeded UMass Lowell in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. Boston University should still make the NCAA Tournament though.

Artem Shlaine was a -1 with 2 PIM, a shot, and won 15/21 faceoffs in that loss for UConn. This likely ends their season unless something unexpected happens on Sunday when the NCAA Tournament selections are made. It was an interesting freshman season for Shlaine who as of right now leads all freshman in faceoff% with a 60.22% mark. As of right now that success rate is 11th in the NCAA across all players. Shlaine consistently got shots on goal with an average of 2.57 per game but only converted once for a 1.69 SH%. With a little more luck his offensive numbers would look better. I look forward to him taking another step next year while staying strong in the faceoff circle. Hopefully he can produce consistently as all but one of his points this year came when he put up 8 points in 7 games in the middle to latter portion of the season.

USHL

Ethan Edwards was a -1 with 2 PIM and 3 shots across 2 games last week. His 3 game scoring streak where he had 2 goals and 4 assists was snapped.

Akira Schmid made 15 saves on 18 shots in 57:21 in a 3-1 loss to Tri-City on Saturday. He bounced back from that outing by making 22 saves on 24 shots in 57:43 in a 2-0 loss to Fargo on Sunday. Last Wednesday, Schmid was named USHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending 3/7. That week he went 2-1 with 3 Quality Starts and a .952 SV%. He has really turned his season around after a tough start. In his first 4 games from 11/13/20 to 12/26/20 he had an .870 SV% with just a single Quality Start. Since then, from 1/2/21 to 3/14/21, he has played 20 games with a .912 SV% and 13 Quality Starts (65%). Schmid is once again one of the top USHL goaltenders as his .906 SV% ranks 3rd among qualified goaltenders, just behind Todd Scott (.909) and Brennan Boynton (.907). Here is Schmid’s reaction to being named USHL Goaltender of the week:

Russia

KHL

VHL & MHL

Yegor Zaitsev had an assist, even rating, 2 PIM, and a shot in 16:18 as #3 Dynamo Moscow defeated #6 Severstal 4-3 in Game 5 last Wednesday. This clinched the Western Conference Quarterfinal series 4-1 for Dynamo Moscow. Now, #3 Dynamo Moscow will take on #2 SKA Saint Petersburg in the Conference Semifinals.

5 GP 0-2-2, E, 4 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 1.60 SH/GP, 0.40 Pts/GP, 18:13 ATOI

Daniil Misyul didn’t play in #4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s Game 4 victory over #5 Jokerit last Tuesday. That victory clinched the Western Conference Quarterfinal series 4-0 for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Now, #4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl will take on #1 CSKA Moscow in the Conference Semifinals.

Playoff Stats: 2 GP 0-0-0, E, 10 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 2.00 SH/GP, 0.00 Pts/GP, 11:20 ATOI

Arseni Gritsyuk didn’t play in #2 Avangard Omsk’s Game 5 victory over #7 Avtomobilist last Wednesday. That victory clinched the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series 4-1 for Avangard Omsk. Now, #2 Avangard Omsk will take on #3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Conference Semifinals.

Playoff Stats: 1 GP 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 1.00 SH/GP, 0.00 Pts/GP, 6:45 ATOI

Shakir Mukhamadullin is still out injured but the good news is that #4 Salavat Yulaev Ufa won their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series 4-1 over #5 Traktor Chelyabinsk. They will take on #1 Ak Bars Kazan in the Conference Semifinals.

Finland

Liiga

Eetu Pakkila had a goal, +1, 4 shots, and averaged 15:07 across 4 games last week. The goal came in his 2nd game of the week, on Wednesday against SaiPa, and snapped a 10 game streak without a goal despite putting up 33 shots during that stretch. Check out his goal below were he makes a nice effort to win a loose puck and pick his spot to score:

Sweden

SHL & Allsvenskan

Nikola Pasic had an assist, +1, and a shot while averaging 12:32 across 2 games last week. Linkoping doesn’t play again until 3/25 and they have 3 regular season games left.

Alexander Holtz was a -2 with 6 shots while averaging 14:02 across 2 games last week. He now has no points over his last 8 games and just a goal over his last 15 games. His 1st half/2nd half split continues to grow more pronounced:

  • 1st half (9/27/20 to 11/28/20): 16 GP 6-7-13, 0.81 Pts/GP, 13.64 SH%, 2.75 SH/GP, 16:28 ATOI
  • 2nd half (12/1/20 to 3/11/21): 21 GP 1-3-4, 0.19 Pts/GP, 2.44 SH%, 1.95 SH/GP, 13:09 ATOI

Djurgarden has 3 regular season games left.

The Rest of Europe

Swiss National League, Slovak Extraliga, Czech 1.liga, Deutsche Eishockey Liga

Benjamin Baumgartner was a -1 with 2 PIM in 14:37 in HC Davos’ only game last week.

Nico Daws didn’t play in either of ERC Ingolstadt’s games last week. According to their schedule, they have 14 regular season games left.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you this week? Do you expect the Devils to sign Matt Hellickson and/or Aarne Talvitie soon? What are your thoughts on the seasons they had? What about Artem Shlaine’s freshman campaign? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!