NCAA UPDATE: SHLAINE MAKING STRIDES
In a pool filled with encouraging prospects, one player who has flown under the radar since being drafted in the 5th round (130th overall) in 2020 has been center Artem Shlaine.
The season before Shlaine was drafted he was tallying near-video game numbers (78 points in 46 games) for Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep. At that time, Dobber described the Russian center this way: “(a)n impressively dynamic player for his size, Shlaine is all offense and no defense.” [Dobber]
In his first two years of college for the Huskies, that offense all but disappeared.
Shlaine’s freshman season saw his production plummet to only 1 goal and 8 assists in 23 games. As a sophomore, Shlaine improved to 7 goals and 10 assists in 36 games, but those totals were still a far cry from the the numbers one would want to see for an offensive-first forward in the NCAA.
Something clearly wasn’t working. So, Shlaine entered the transfer portal after last season with UConn. A few teams showed interest. Shlaine picked the Northern Michigan Wildcats.
So far, the move has paid off.
Shlaine has been flirting with a near point per game pace all season centering Northern Michigan’s top line. The offensive center’s return to form drew the attention of NHL.Com’s Peter Robinson, who interviewed Shlaine. [NHL.Com] In his piece, Peter Robinson outlines Shlaine’s travels from growing up in Moscow to a move to Florida, then Minnesota to play for St. Mary’s Prep, then Connecticut to start his college career for the Huskies and now a transfer over to Michigan.
It’s a lot of mileage, which hopefully for Shlaine ends up one day in New Jersey.
SHLAINE BY THE NUMBERS
Since the start of Shlaine’s NCAA career, his NHLe has risen each season starting with 12.6 as a freshman to 15.2 as a sophomore to 22.2 thus far this season for the Wildcats. Dobber now has Shlaine’s PNHLe at 40, which projects his potential as that of a future second line center. [Dobber] Those are all very good trends, but will they be enough to launch a successful pro career?
A CONCLUSION OF SORTS
At his current trajectory, Shlaine is on his way to earning himself a contract with the Devils. His path to the NHL; however, will not be an easy one. Even with the increase in production, Shlaine is likely not elite enough offensively to rely on those skills alone at the NHL-level. The good news is that according to Peter Robinson’s interview, Shlaine seems well-aware of the defects in his overall game and is working to overcome them. If Shlaine can make as much progress on the defensive side of the puck as he has putting up points this year, then the young Russian center may end up with a very long and fruitful pro career.
NCAA PROSPECT UPDATE
Patrick Moynihan’s production has fallen to below a half point per game. The two-way forward has seen his NHLe fall from a high of 28 in his Covid-shortened sophomore season to 13 so far this year. According to Dobber’s model, Moynihan’s PNHLe now sits at 18 down from a high of 48 in that sophomore year. [Dobber]
Samu Salminen looks as if he has made the adjustment to North American ice. After scoring only one point (a deflection goal) in his first five games, the Finnish center seems to be finding his stride. The hot streak came too late for the World Juniors; however, as Salminen did not get selected by Team Finland even though he has captained past international tournaments. [TheHockeyWriters]
The subject of this week’s spotlight, Artem Shlaine enters the break with seventeen points in his first twenty games for his new team, the Northern Michigan Wildcats. Shlaine has steadily improved each collegiate season, but the jump has been most noticeable this year. In 2023, Shlaine will try to push the middling Wildcats higher up the standings in the CCHA.
Offense has never been a problem for Luke Hughes. At current, the young blueliner has continued his excellence so far this season with 18 points in his first 20 games and will be a cornerstone for Team USA in the World Juniors tournament. Assistant GM Dan McKinnon confirmed on the Devils broadcast against the Flyers on Thursday that the plan is to bring Luke Hughes over to New Jersey at the end of his college season, so Devils fans will not have to wait long for the Hughes brothers to reunite on the ice. In an interview with Mike Morreale of NHL.COM, Hughes said his focus this season has been being “more reliable defensively.” [NHL.COM] That defensive reliability will certainly help as Hughes embarks on his pro career.
Riding an early-season heater, Seamus Casey has 16 points in his first 20 games. Dobber’s PNHLe model currently has Casey at 69, which according to their model, projects his potential as that of a 1st pairing NHL defenseman. [Dobber]
Perhaps, even more encouraging for the 18 year-old’s NHL-future is the praise the young defenseman has received for his improved defensive play from head coach Brandon Naurato in a piece by Peter Robinson of NHL.Com. In the article, Naurato praises Casey’s skating, physicality and defensive positioning - traits according to Assist GM Dan McKinnon “projects very well as a pro.” [NHL.COM]
Echoing these sentiments in an article by Connor Earegood of the Michigan Daily, USA Coach Rand Pecknold notes the strides Casey had made on the defensive end, something Casey was determined to work on this season as it was perceived as his biggest weakness on draft day. [Michigan Daily] The improvements have been so striking that Elite Prospects scout Lassi Alanen recently dropped this gem about Casey’s analytics.
This is it. Seamus Casey (NJD) not only has the highest grade for offence, but his overall mark is also the best in the entire dataset among defencemen. You can't find any weak points from this card. #NJDevils https://t.co/R5rFwNbQkM pic.twitter.com/X2a4vEdp6c— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) December 8, 2022
If Casey’s defensive game keeps improving as it has been, the Devils could have something very special in the young defender. As another sign of Casey’s defensive development, the freshman blueliner is no longer being sheltered and has moved alongside fellow Devils prospect Ethan Edwards in the Wolverines Top Four.
A somewhat overshadowed, but encouraging prospect in his own right, Edwards has settled back in after an early season injury and is the only defenseman of the three Devils prospects who has seen his Pts/g increase since last update.
Congratulations are in order for Charlie Leddy who scored his first collegiate goal.
Cutter Gauthier absolutely controlling this game every time he's on the ice. As @Buccigross said, absolutely looks like a man among boys tonight. Picks up an assist here on Charlie Leddy's first collegiate goal. pic.twitter.com/WMwH37wZem— Flyers Clips (@Flyers_Clips) December 10, 2022
Cole Brady has not played since last update.
NCAA PROSPECT OF THE MONTH
This month’s honors go to Seamus Casey despite a slight dip in production since last update for his tremendous strides in his all-around game. Defensive play often flys under the prospect radar, but it is an essential element to becoming a good pro. Stick tap for addressing these issues so early in your NCAA career, Mr. Casey.
AROUND THE POOL
- The Utica Comets roasted the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday 7-3. Nico Daws made 29 saves for the win. Simon Nemec, Nikita Okhotiuk, Brian Pinho, Patrick Grasso and Nolan Stevens all had two point nights for the Comets. [TheAhl.Com] This followed a 5-2 victory for the Comets on Friday night, when, while on a conditioning stint, Mackenzie Blackwood earned his first AHL win since the 2018-2019 season. Nolan Foote scored twice giving him a team-leading nine goals on the year. Tyce Thompson potted a goal and an assist.
- Our very own Josh Filmon, who is now on a 51 goal pace, became the first WHL player since 2009 to pot a double hatty.
- In World Juniors news, as expected, Topias Vilen will suit up for Finland. [TheHockeyWriters]
- Seamus Casey will join Luke Hughes on Team USA. [FloHockey]
- Petr Hauser is expected to play for Team Czechia.
- Lastly, Satan confirms that Simon Nemec will take a leave from Utica to play for Team Slovakia.
I can confirm that two (2022) first round picks Šimon Nemec and Filip Mešár will play for Slovakia at 2022 World Junior Championship.— Miroslav Šatan (@miro81s) December 8, 2022
Over the winter break, the prospect update will be taking a little hiatus from the current format. The updated schedule, barring any changes, will be as follows:
December 26th: World Juniors International Spotlight
January 3rd: Year-End Review — Format TBD
January 10th: World Juniors Recap
After that, this format will resume with an update on the Devils CHL prospects with a spotlight on Josh Filmon.
Now is the time to tell us what you think. Are you excited for Luke Hughes to arrive in New Jersey later this year? How about Casey’s defensive improvements? Shlaine’s development? Anything interest you particularly about the World Juniors? Please tell us your thoughts below.