Welcome to the 24th week of the 2020-21 New Jersey Devils prospect update! This week’s action featured Michael Vukojevic signing his ELC with the New Jersey Devils, Dawson Mercer stay red hot in the QMJHL, Matt Hellickson and Case McCarthy make the NCAA Tournament, and Akira Schmid continue to be one of the best goaltenders in the USHL. Let’s take a look at how each prospect performed over the past week.
Dawson Mercer had 3 goals (2 EV, 1 EN), 2 assists (1 EV, 1 PP), an even rating, 12 shots, and won 67.12% of his faceoffs across 3 games against Sherbrooke last week. He had a natural hat trick on Saturday which was his 3rd hat trick of the season, all of which happened within a 9 game span. Check out his hat trick below:
Michael Vukojevic signed his three-year, entry-level contract with the Devils last Friday. The deal starts with the 2021-22 season. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Jeff’s profile of the young defenseman who has been impressive since making the jump to the AHL this season with the OHL season delayed. So far with Binghamton, Vukojevic has put up a goal, 5 assists, -3, 10 PIM, and 7 shots in 9 games.
Last Tuesday, Matt Hellickson was among the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honorees. On Sunday, his week got even better as Notre Dame, a team on the bubble for the tournament, was officially named the #4 seed in the Northeast Region. They will take on #1 Boston College on Saturday at 1:00 PM ET on ESPNews. If they win that game, they face the winner of #2 St. Cloud State vs. #3 Boston University. The Northeast Regional Final is on Sunday at 5:30 PM ET on ESPN2. Here’s a full schedule for the tournament. I’m really happy to see Hellickson get a chance to extend his college career for a few more games and a potential run for the title.
As expected, Penn State did not make the tournament so Aarne Talvitie’s season is officially over. A few days ago, Corey Masisak of The Athletic reported that GM Tom Fitzgerald would like to sign both Talvitie and Tyce Thompson once their seasons were over. The plan is to get them playing for Binghamton or New Jersey this season. The Devils hold both of their rights until August 15, 2022 and would prefer that neither play returns for their senior season. I expect to hear an announcement of their signings fairly soon.
Tyce Thompson had a PP assist, -1, and was 0/2 on faceoffs in Providence’s 5-2 loss to UMass in the Hockey East Semifinals last Wednesday. They were a bubble team but not selected for the NCAA Tournament so their season is over. As I said above, I expect Thompson to sign with New Jersey soon.
Patrick Moynihan had an even rating and 3 shots in that season ending loss for Providence.
Case McCarthy and Boston University were upset in their quest to win Hockey East but were good enough to secure the #3 seed in the Northeast Region. They will take on #2 St. Cloud State on Saturday at 6:30 PM ET on ESPNews. Should they win that, they would play the winner of #1 Boston College vs. #4 Notre Dame.
I finally got a chance to add in Goals Allowed Percentage Minus (GA%-) and Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) stats for Cole Brady. Arizona State played an exclusive schedule against the Big Ten so these numbers are reflective of how he compared to fellow ASU goaltenders as well as those in the Big Ten. A quick refresher that GA%- compares a goaltender’s performance among their peers with 100 being average, below 100 being above average, and above 100 being below average. Brady’s 103 GA%- essentially means that he was just slightly below average. GSAA, as the name suggests, shows how many goals a goaltender saved above a league average netminder. Brady’s -1.16 GSAA also shows that he was just slightly below average. On the surface those aren’t impressive figures but keeping in mind that ASU played an all-road schedule due to the pandemic, he battled mono, and played on a team with a porous defense, those are fine figures for a freshman goaltender. His GSAA per 60 minutes was -0.11 and his GSAA per 30 shots was -0.09 so all things considered, he was an average goaltender among ASU and the Big Ten.
Ethan Edwards had a PP assist, +3, 12 PIM, and 4 shots across 2 games last week.
Akira Schmid made 22 saves on 24 shots in a victory over Fargo last Friday. He one-upped that performance the following day when he made 42 saves on 44 shots in another victory over Fargo. I’m very impressed by what Schmid has done after a tough start to the season. He had off-season hip surgery and didn’t have a pre-season. He started the year 1-3-0 with an .870 SV% and just 1 Quality Start (25.00%). Since then he is 11-10-1 with a .916 SV% and 15 Quality Starts (68.18%). He now leads the league with a .909 SV%. Back in 2018-19 he finished as the league leader with a .926 SV% so I’m interested in seeing if he can finish this year on top too. Sioux City has 12 regular season games remaining.
VHL & MHL
Yegor Zaitsev was a +2 with 4 shots while averaging 19:03 across 3 games last week. #3 Dynamo Moscow is down 2-1 in their Western Conference Semifinal series to #2 SKA Saint Petersburg.
Playoff Stats: 8 GP 0-2-2, +2, 4 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 1.50 SH/GP, 0.25 Pts/GP, 18:31 ATOI
Daniil Misyul had an even rating and played 9:22 in Lokomotiv’s Game 3 loss last Sunday. This was his first game in two weeks. #4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is down 2-1 in their Western Conference Semifinal series against #1 CSKA Moscow.
Playoff Stats: 3 GP 0-0-0, E, 10 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 1.33 SH/GP, 0.00 Pts/GP, 10:41 ATOI
Arseni Gritsyuk didn’t play in Avangard’s 3 games last week. #2 Avangard Omsk is up 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against #3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
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 as #4 Salavat Yulaev Ufa is down 3-0 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series to #1 Ak Bars Kazan. Game 4 is today.
Eetu Pakkila was a +1 with 6 shots while averaging 17:02 across 3 games last week. Ilves is currently in 4th place in Liiga with 85 points through 50 games played. It is worth noting that they are in 6th place if the league was to be seeded based on points per game. The top 6 teams in Liiga advance to the playoffs while teams 7-10 play in a wildcard round. Ilves has 9 regular season games left.
SHL & Allsvenskan
Nikola Pasic and Linkoping had last week off. They are currently in 11th place in the SHL and 5 points behind 10th place Malmo. In the SHL the top 6 teams make the playoffs while teams 7-10 play in a play-in series for the final 2 spots. It’s also worth noting that teams 13-14 play in a relegation playoff series against each other and that Linkoping is 2 points ahead of 13th place Brynas IF. Linkoping has 3 regular season games left.
Alexander Holtz had a PP assist, even rating, and a shot in 5:40 in Djurgardens’ only game last week. That snaps an 8 game point drought for Holtz. Djurgarden is in 9th place and have 2 regular season games remaining.
The Rest of Europe
Swiss National League, Slovak Extraliga, Czech 1.liga, Deutsche Eishockey Liga
Benjamin Baumgartner had an assist, even rating, and 2 shots in 14:26 in HC Davos’ only game last week. HC Davos is currently in 8th place in the NL and have 7 regular season games left. The top 6 teams make the playoffs while teams 7-10 play in a play-in series.
Nico Daws didn’t play in ERC Ingolstadt’s only game last week. They have games on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday this week so hopefully he gets into one of those. He last played on 3/5.
Which prospects stood out to you this past week? What do you think about the Devils signing Michael Vukojevic to his ELC? What about Dawson Mercer’s continued production? Are you excited to watch Matt Hellickson and Case McCarthy in the NCAA Tournament? What do you think about Akira Schmid’s season? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!