Welcome to the 25th week of the 2020-21 New Jersey Devils prospect update! This past week the Devils announced that they have signed Tyce Thompson and Aarne Talvitie to entry-level contracts. Dawson Mercer continues to dominate in the QMJHL and Akira Schmid earned more honors in the USHL. A few Devils prospects did see their seasons come to an end as Matt Hellickson and Case McCarthy were eliminated in the NCAA tournament and Yegor Zaitsev, Daniil Misyul, and Shakir Mukhamadullin suffered a similar fate in the Gagarin Cup Playoffs. Let’s take a look at how each prospect performed over the past week.
Dawson Mercer had a goal, 2 assists, +3, 3 shots, and won 15/25 faceoffs in Chicoutimi’s only game last week, a 6-2 victory over Baie-Comeau on Wednesday. He has put up a point in all but one of his games this season and his current 12 game scoring streak includes 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points. Mercer’s 1.62 points per game rate ranks 3rd in the QMJHL among players with at least 20 games played.
Matt Hellickson and Notre Dame were set to be the #4 seed in the Northeast Region and take on #1 Boston College in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, on Thursday the team had to withdraw from the competition due to positive COVID cases in the program. This means that Hellickson’s college career has officially come to an end. The Devils hold his rights until August 15, 2021 but I think it’s more likely that he signs an AHL deal as opposed to an NHL contract should he stay in the Devils organization.
Last Thursday, the Devils signed Aarne Talvitie to a two-year, entry-level contract starting with the 2021-22 season. They also signed him to an AHL contract for the remainder of the 2020-21 season and he’s already entered quarantine so he can join Binghamton.
Last Wednesday, the Devils signed Tyce Thompson to a two-year, entry-level contract. This deal begins with the 2020-21 season and he has already entered quarantine so he can join New Jersey.
Case McCarthy was a -3 with 2 shots as #3 Boston University lost 6-2 to #2 St. Cloud State in the Northeast Region Semifinal. His sophomore season is now complete after just 12 appearances due to the pandemic. The 20 year old now has 44 games under his belt with Boston University and will be looking to take on a bigger role next season. Boston University will see two senior defensemen move on in David Farrance and Joseph Campolieto so there will certainly be an opportunity there for McCarthy to step up. The Devils hold his rights until August 15, 2023.
Ethan Edwards had a PP assist, +2, 2 PIM, and 5 shots across 2 games last week.
Akira Schmid made 35 saves on 37 shots in a victory over Sioux Falls last Friday. He had a rough game last Sunday against Omaha, making just 10 saves on 13 shots, but still managed to pick up the victory. 2 of the 3 goals he gave up in that game came while his team was on the penalty kill. Last Wednesday, Schmid earned his 2nd USHL Goaltender of the Week award in 3 weeks. He earned that award for making 64 saves on 68 shots across 2 games in Week 20 of the USHL season. Here’s what Akira and his coach had to say about his recent honor:
Hear from Musketeers head coach Luke Strand and goaltender Akira Schmid following Akira’s second Goalie of the Week honor ⚜️ pic.twitter.com/al7Lelel2x— Sioux City Musketeers (@Musketeerhockey) March 24, 2021
VHL & MHL
Yegor Zaitsev was a -1 with 4 PIM and 2 shots while averaging 15:33 across 2 games last week. Unfortunately, his season has come to an end as #3 Dynamo Moscow lost their Western Conference Semifinal series 4-1 to #1 SKA Saint Petersburg. Below is a nice hit he made last week:
According to his KHL player page, his contract expires on April 30 so perhaps the Devils will look to sign him to an ELC this summer. The 6’0”, 192 lbs. left handed defenseman turns 23 on May 3 so the timing may be right for him to make the move to North America. He has already played in 210 regular season games in the KHL with 5 goals, 23 assists, +17, and 168 PIM. He also has 29 KHL playoff games under his belt with 2 goals, 3 assists, +2, and 18 PIM. According to Cap Friendly, the Devils hold his rights indefinitely.
Playoff Stats: 10 GP 0-2-2, +1, 8 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 1.40 SH/GP, 0.20 Pts/GP, 17:56 ATOI
Daniil Misyul didn’t play in any of the final 4 games of Lokomotiv’s Western Conference Semifinal series against CSKA. #4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl lost the series 4-3 to #1 CSKA Moscow. The 20 year old defenseman has now finished his 2nd full KHL season with Lokomotiv. He picked up 4 more assists, averaged almost a half shot more per game, and averaged 1:27 more per game this season than he did in his rookie season. He’s still under contract with Lokomotiv until April 30, 2023 and the Devils hold his rights indefinitely so he’ll be in the KHL for a few more seasons. Hopefully he can earn a bigger role on Lokomotiv next season as he develops in the pro game.
Playoff Stats: 4 GP 0-0-0, E, 10 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 1.00 SH/GP, 0.00 Pts/GP, 9:57 ATOI
Arseni Gritsyuk didn’t play in any of the 3 games Avangard had last week. #2 Avangard Omsk defeated #3 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4-2 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. They will take on #1 Ak Bars Kazan in the Eastern Conference Finals.
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’s season came to an end as #4 Salavat Yulaev Ufa was swept 4-0 by #1 Ak Bars Kazan in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series last week. Mukhamadullin didn’t appear in the series due to injury though he was back skating with the team. Mukhamadullin led U20 defensemen in the KHL in goals (3), assists (7), points (10), and points per game (0.26). That points per game rate ranks 5th among U20 KHL defensemen since the league started play in 2008-09. He is signed with Salavat Yulaev until April 30, 2022 so it is possible that the Devils could bring him over after the 2021-22 season depending on how his development goes.
Eetu Pakkila and Ilves were off last week and won’t be back in action until April 6. They have 3 regular season games left and are currently in 5th from a points per game perspective.
SHL & Allsvenskan
Nikola Pasic had an assist, -2, and a shot while averaging 12:05 across 2 games last week. Linkoping will finish their regular season on Saturday. I’m curious to see if Pasic can make it through that game without committing a penalty. He hasn’t committed a penalty (or at least hasn’t been caught) yet this season through 51 games played. In fact, he hasn’t picked up any PIM’s in his 69 game SHL career to date. Linkoping needs the win as they are currently 2 points out of the final playoff spot behind 10th place Malmo.
Alexander Holtz had an even rating and 2 shots as he averaged 9:27 across 2 games last week. He played 13:42 in Djurgarden’s 1st game of the week but then played just 5:13 in their 2nd game. Djurgarden has finished their regular season and will play in the play-in series for the playoffs. Their seeding is still not settled just yet. His 2nd full season certainly didn’t go as hoped as he and his team battled injuries and the pandemic. I plan on doing a deeper dive into his development this offseason but here is an overly simple view of his production. His goals per game rate dropped from 0.26 last season to 0.18 this season. His points per game rate was almost the same as it went from 0.46 to 0.45. He did slightly increase his assists per game rate this season from 0.20 to 0.28. The rest of the SHL concludes their regular season on Saturday so we will know who Holtz will play in the play-in series soon.
The Rest of Europe
Swiss National League, Slovak Extraliga, Czech 1.liga, Deutsche Eishockey Liga
Benjamin Baumgartner had 2 assists, +1, 8 shots, and won 50.00% of his faceoffs while averaging 14:12 across 3 games last week. He’s been a bit streaky this season, opening with 13 points over his first 16 games, then putting up just 4 points over his next 14 games, and now putting up 8 points over his last 15 games.
Nico Daws made 33 saves on 34 shots in a 1-0 loss to Eisbaren Berlin last Friday. ERC Ingolstadt has 4 games this week with back-to-backs on Wednesday/Thursday and Sunday/Monday so hopefully he can get into two of those games.
What do you think about the Devils signing Tyce Thompson and Aarne Talvitie? What are your expectations for these players long term? What do you think about the seasons that Yegor Zaitsev, Daniil Misyul, and Shakir Mukhamadullin had? Do you want the Devils to sign Zaitsev this summer? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!