The New Jersey Devils may only be hitting their February break now, but with the team’s record and point percentage where they are, it’s safe to say they are playing out the string at this point. Usually, teams that are draft lottery bound will wind up calling up players from the AHL to see if they have a future in the NHL. While the Devils have already made a few call-ups this season, there will be more if the team has injuries or trades away players who are in the lineup on a daily basis. Today, we look at some of Utica’s leading scorers that could find themselves in New Jersey later this year and whether they should or should not be receiving said call-up.
Should: Fabian Zetterlund
Zetterlund had a three game cup of coffee with the team this season, but was held without a point while only averaging roughly six and a half minutes of ice time in each appearance. As the current leading scorer for Utica with 37 points, and as a 22 year old prospect, Zetterlund still could be at least a complementary part in the NHL at some point in his career. He brought good energy to the team in a Bottom Six forward role when he was called upon, and if the Devils choose to part with anyone before the trade deadline (or have to deal with anymore extended illnesses or injuries) then it could be worth giving Zetterlund another shot with at least a somewhat increased role.
Maybe Should?: Chase De Leo
De Leo has made two appearances for the Devils so far this season, and much like Zetterlund, was held without a point in those contests. De Leo currently has the highest point per game total in Utica (1.24) with his 36 points coming in only 29 contests. I go back and forth on whether or not De Leo should make another appearance for the big club; on one hand, he’s 26, which is usually around the age where you know what a player will give you as a forward. On the other hand, he’s putting up very good numbers and has never had a true NHL chance, with only seven career games. My final verdict here is a no, unless the player I deem should get a chance are all unavailable.
Should: Nate Schnarr
Schnarr has been with the Devils organization for a couple of season now, arriving as part of the Taylor Hall trade back in 2019. His point total has increased greatly this season from where he has been in the past, and while he falls just outside the team’s top five scorers, I think what makes him an interesting choice for a call-up is that he has never played in an NHL game. Some player have middling AHL careers before showing something that makes them valuable at the NHL level; Schnarr could wind up meshing well with someone and giving the Devils another useful option and/or combination. Only time and a chance with the big club will tell, so if the opportunity arises, Schnarr will need to make the most of it.
Should Not: A.J. Greer
Greer kind of falls into the same boat as De Leo, but with a couple of additional notes which lead to my end verdict here. With 28 points in 33 games, Greer is the sixth most efficient scorer in Utica in terms of points per game. While that means there are potential better call-ups ahead of him, Greer is also approaching the age where teams start to question is a player will be an NHL contributor. Also working against him is that he has been given some NHL time in past seasons (mostly by Colorado) and he did not really do much in those appearances. Greer could be called up to play before season’s end, but I think the team has better options to look at.
Maybe Should?: Reilly Walsh
Walsh would probably be the first name coming to management’s mind to come to New Jersey should a defender be needed at any point. With 32 points in 42 contests so far, Walsh has absolutely been an offensive weapon for the Comets this season. He’s young and has also not appeared in an NHL contest to this point in his career, but he’s in the maybe column because I believe with where he is on the depth chart (at least 9th when all players are healthy) he doesn’t really have any room to move up unless the Devils both part with players and have injuries/illnesses hit.
Should: Alexander Holtz
I feel like I don’t really need to justify this one too much. Holtz as a rookie in the AHL this season is putting up excellent numbers (33 in 28) and is one of the organization’s prized prospects. While he still might need more seasoning prior to being impactful at the NHL level, it could be worth seeing how much he has learned from his last NHL stint to now. I may have saved him for last on this list, but that’s because I think he could be a no-brainer if a call-up opportunity arises.
Who do you believe the Devils should call up as the season continues? Are you in agreement or disagreement with the assessments I made of the players mentioned? Is there anyone else you would like to see get a shot that I did not mention? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!