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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 3/2/21

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This week’s action was highlighted by Dawson Mercer and Patrick Moynihan producing for their respective teams while Cole Brady and Akira Schmid had solid starts in goal. The KHL regular season came to an end and the Devils will have four prospects in the Gagarin Cup Playoffs.

New Jersey Devils Headshots
Akira Schmid made 27 saves on 29 shots in both of his starts last week as he continues to trend up in the USHL.
Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome to the 21st week of the 2020-21 New Jersey Devils prospect update! This week’s action saw Dawson Mercer dominate in the QMJHL, Patrick Moynihan continue to produce in the NCAA, Cole Brady put up a 41 save performance for Arizona State, and Akira Schmid put up a pair of strong starts in the USHL. It was also the final week of the KHL regular season. Let’s check in on each prospect now.

QMJHL

Dawson Mercer had 2 PP goals, 2 assists, +2, 2 PIM, 5 shots, and won 61.29% of his faceoffs across 2 games last weekend. His current point streak is at 4 games with 5 goals and 3 assists during that stretch. Below are some highlights from Saturday’s game:

NCAA

Matt Hellickson had 2 assists, +2, 2 PIM, and a shot as Notre Dame beat Michigan State twice last weekend. Both assists came in Friday’s 2-0 victory and snapped a 9 game streak without a point.

Aarne Talvitie and Penn State were off last week as their series against Minnesota was canceled due to positive COVID tests. They are scheduled to play Notre Dame this weekend. Friday’s game is scheduled to air on NBCSN at 7:30 PM ET while Saturday’s game is scheduled to air on SNY at 5:30 PM ET. Penn State hasn’t played since 1/29. Talvitie hasn’t played since 1/28.

Tyce Thompson had a goal, -1, 2 PIM, 7 shots, and won 44.44% of his faceoffs across 3 games last week. Check out his most recent goal below:

Patrick Moynihan had a goal, 2 assists, +3, 2 PIM, and 8 shots across 3 games last week. Check out his most recent goal and assist that came in Sunday’s tie (shootout loss) to Northeastern. The goal was very much a “right place, right time” situation as he took a loose puck off a turnover in front of the net and picked out the top corner.

Case McCarthy had a goal, +3, and 5 shots as Boston University split a series with Merrimack last weekend. Check out his first goal of the season below:

Artem Shlaine was a -1 with 2 PIM, 8 shots, and won 59.09% of his faceoffs as UConn split a series against Maine last weekend.

Cole Brady made 32 saves on 36 shots in a 4-1 loss to Michigan on Friday. He followed that up by making 41 saves on 42 shots in a 1-1 tie against Michigan on Saturday. Andrew Bell, over at House of Sparky, had this post focusing on Brady’s recent play and health. I thought this quote from Brady’s coach stood out:

“He’s himself. We don’t know how long he had mono before we detected it,” said head coach Greg Powers. “He wasn’t himself for a long time and you could see it in practice. That’s where you gain the confidence in yourself, but most importantly as a goalie you gain the confidence of your teammates by being really tough to score on in practice. When he was struggling, he was struggling in practice and that was translating to games. Ever since he’s been back he’s been unbelievable in practice...This kid, he’s going to be a hell of a goalie and win us a ton of games.”

ASU has been playing an all road schedule against Big Ten teams this season. They’ll close out their season with a series against Ohio State this weekend. Hopefully Brady can finish out the year strong. Check out one of his latest saves below:

USHL

Ethan Edwards had a goal, +1, 8 PIM, and 8 shots across 3 games last week.

Akira Schmid made 27 saves on 29 shots in a victory over Lincoln on Friday. He then made 27 saves on 29 shots in a loss to Tri-City on Sunday. He now ranks 5th in the USHL in SV% with a .902 mark. Only 7 of the 19 qualified goaltenders have a SV% of .900 or higher at the moment.

Russia

KHL

VHL & MHL

Yegor Zaitsev was a +1 with 3 shots while averaging 18:13 across 2 KHL games last week. He finished the 2020-21 regular season with a goal and 8 assists in 58 games. That is slightly less offensive output from 2019-20’s 3 goals and 11 assists in 58 games. He did average just a little bit more shots per game (1.31 this season vs. 0.98 last season) and saw a slight increase in ice time (16:08 this season vs. 15:52 last season). Dynamo Moscow is the 3rd seed in the Western Conference and will take on 6th seeded Severstal Cherepovets in Western Conference Quarterfinals of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs.

Daniil Misyul had an even rating and averaged 11:20 across 3 KHL games last week. He finished the 2020-21 regular season with 2 goals and 5 assists in 46 games. That improves upon his 2019-20 output where he had 2 goals and an assist in 35 games. He improved his shot rate (0.87 this season vs. 0.51 last season) and averaged more ice time (10:16 this season vs. 8:49 last season). Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is the 4th seed in the Western Conference and will take on 5th seeded Jokerit in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs.

Arseni Gritsyuk had a PP goal, -1, 4 shots, and averaged 7:10 across 2 KHL games last week. He finishes his rookie season in the KHL with a goal and an assist in 12 games while averaging 7:13. Gritsyuk also had 6 points in 8 VHL games (2nd tier) and 9 points in 6 MHL games (juniors). Gritsyuk also represented Russia at the U20 level in the WJC and made his debut for Russia’s senior team. Avangard Omsk is the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference and will take on 7th seeded Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs.

Nikita Popugayev didn’t play in any of Neftekhimik’s final 3 regular season games last week. He ended up missing the final 6 games of their season. It was another underwhelming year for the well-traveled Popugayev as he managed a goal and 5 assists in 25 games across 2 different teams. The Devils hold his rights until 6/1/21 but it’s safe to say he won’t be signed. I wish him the best of luck in his future and hope he can carve out a nice career for himself.

Shakir Mukhamadullin missed Salavat Yulaev Ufa’s final 3 regular season games last week due to injury. He has now missed 5 straight games but will hopefully return at some point in the playoffs. He enjoyed his 2nd KHL season with 3 goals and 7 assists in 39 games this season after having no goals and an assist in 27 games last season. His average ice time jumped from 3:07 in 2019-20 to 12:56 in 2020-21. Mukhamadullin led all U20 defensemen in goals, assists, points, and points per game this season. His 0.26 Pts/GP rate is 5th all time in KHL history among U20 defensemen. Salavat Yulaev Ufa is the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference and will take on 5th seeded Traktor Chelyabinsk in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs.

The Gagarin Cup Playoffs begin today and here is the schedule:

Finland

Liiga

Eetu Pakkila had an even rating, 2 PIM, 13 shots, and averaged 15:32 across 3 games last week. His shooting percentage has dropped to 4.00% on the season after he put up a 7.59% last season. His shots per game rate is nearly the same from last season (2.08 this season compared to 2.03 last season). Hopefully he can regain the goal scoring touch that he had in juniors a few seasons ago.

Sweden

SHL & Allsvenskan

Nikola Pasic was a +1 with 3 shots and averaged 13:56 across 3 games last week. Linköping has 6 regular season games left.

Alexander Holtz was a -1 with 6 shots and averaged 11:03 across 3 games last week. His season splits continue to stand out:

  • From 9/27 to 11/28: 16 GP 6-7-13, 0.81 Pts/GP, 13.64 SH%, 2.75 SH/GP, 16:28 ATOI
  • From 12/1 to 2/27: 19 GP 1-3-4, 0.21 Pts/GP, 2.86 SH%, 1.84 SH/GP, 13:03 ATOI

How his 2020-21 season compares to 2019-20 at this point:

  • 2019-20: 35 GP 9-7-16, 16.36 SH%, 1.57 SH/GP, 12:53 ATOI
  • 2020-21: 35 GP 7-10-17, 8.86 SH%, 2.26 SH/GP, 14:37 ATOI

Djurgården has 5 regular season games left.

Yesterday, Zach Ellenthal posted this fantastic statistical breakdown of Holtz’s season and how it compares to his draft year on Hockey Sverige. I highly recommend checking out the full article for all the tables and graphics as well as the various statistics used. Essentially, Holtz’s Even Strength and 5v5 game is still strong like it was last season. He has seen a slight increase in in his Even Strength Points/60 and Shots on Goal/60. His Corsi% has also improved which is an encouraging sign. His PP production still leaves a bit to be desired (given his incredible shot) but that will hopefully improve with more time (if he spends another year in the SHL). His Game Score has improved from 0.43 to 0.56 this season as noted by Better Than A Monkey. Perhaps most importantly, the article notes that Holtz got off to a fast start on a line with Jacob Josefson and William Eklund early in the season. They were broken up after Josefson’s injury and Holtz’s production has taken a big hit. Hopefully he can keep fighting through and finish the season strong. Once again, I really recommend reading this article breaking down Holtz’s season.

The Rest of Europe

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

Benjamin Baumgartner had a goal, PP assist, +3, 4 shots, and averaged 14:58 across 2 games last week. He now has 3 goals and 5 assists over his last 12 games.

Nico Daws didn’t play in either of ERC Ingolstadt’s games last week. He continues to back up Michael Garteig who leads the DEL in SV% at .933.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you this week? How encouraging do you find Dawson Mercer’s season? What about the performances that Cole Brady and Akira Schmid have put up lately? What are your thoughts on Alexander Holtz’s season? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!