Welcome to the 23rd week of the 2021-22 New Jersey Devils prospect update! This week saw Artem Shlaine’s season come to an end with UConn. It also saw Ethan Edwards and Luke Hughes help Michigan clinch a top seed in the NCAA Tournament with Michigan. Arseni Gritsyuk continued his productive play in the Gagarin Cup Playoffs, Nikola Pasic is coming up clutch for Sodertalje in the Allsvenskan relegation series, and Jakub Malek returned from injury to help VHK Vsetin with their playoff campaign in the Czech 2nd division playoffs. Let’s check in on each prospect now.
Chase Stillman missed all 3 of Peterborough’s games last week as he completed his 5 game suspension from his dangerous hit on 3/10 against Kingston. He’s eligible to return to the Petes lineup for tonight’s game against Niagara. Also, I noticed the OHL site took away a PP goal he had from 2/10 against Ottawa. His stats table has been updated to reflect that.
Artem Shlaine was a +1 with a shot and won 3/13 faceoffs (23.08%), as 4th seeded UConn defeated 1st seeded Northeastern in the Hockey East Semifinals last Friday. Shlaine was a -1 with a shot and won 9/15 faceoffs (60.0%), as UConn fell in overtime to 2nd seeded UMass in the Hockey East Championship last Saturday. UConn needed to win that tournament to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, so the loss ended their season. This completes Shlaine’s sophomore season where he spent most of the season centering either the 2nd or 3rd lines. He improved his goals per game rate from 0.04 as a freshman to 0.19 as a sophomore. His assists per game rate fell from 0.35 as a freshman to 0.28 as a sophomore. Overall, his points per game rate climbed from 0.39 as a freshman to 0.47 as a sophomore. Shlaine turned 20 just a couple of weeks ago so he still has quite a bit of time to further his development. I’m looking forward to seeing if he can be a bit more consistent next year as a junior with a UConn program that seems to be improving every year.
Ethan Edwards had an even rating and a shot in 2nd seeded Michigan’s Big Ten Championship victory over top seeded Minnesota last Saturday. Edwards has really cemented his spot on the 3rd pair with his strong defense and physical play.
Luke Hughes earned a lot of praise this week for his impressive season. Last Tuesday, he was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, All-Second Team, and Co-Freshman of the Year. Last Wednesday, he was named a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker award and the Devils noted this:
On Wednesday, Hughes was named as a Hobey Baker Top-10 Finalist, an award given to the top NCAA men’s hockey player. Hughes is the only defenseman among the ten finalists and is also the youngest of all ten finalists.
In the Big Ten Championship game, Hughes was had an assist, +1, and a shot. He was also named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. Check out the goal he set up below:
Brendan Brisson puts it five hole! Matty Beniers and Luke Hughes with the apples pic.twitter.com/Fpvx2Yq9Df— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) March 20, 2022
Michigan is the top seed in the Allentown Regional and will open their NCAA Tournament against American International on Friday at 3 PM ET. That game can be seen on EPSNU. Here is a full bracket of the NCAA Tournament which includes all of the game times and how they can be watched.
KHL & VHL
#4 Dynamo is trailing #3 CSKA 3-0 in their Western Conference Semifinals series. Yegor Zaitsev was a -3 with 2 PIM and averaged 17:46 across the opening 3 games of the series last week.
Playoff Stats: 10 GP 0-2-2, -3, 4 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.3 SH/GP, 18:09 ATOI
Daniil Misyul Playoff Stats: 3 GP 0-0-0, -3, 2 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 0.0 SH/GP, 13:36 ATOI
Last week, Arseni Gritsyuk was named one of the Best Players of the First Round under the rookie category according to the KHL. Arseni Gritsyuk has helped #5 Avangard get out to a 2-0 series lead over #1 Metallurg Mg in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Across 2 games last week to open that series, Gritsyuk has 2 goals, +2, 10 shots, and averaged 15:28. Check out this nice breakaway goal he scored:
Playoff Stats: 8 GP 3-3-6, +1, 4 PIM, 9.4 SH%, 4.0 SH/GP, 17:51 ATOI
#3 Salavat Yulaev leads their Eastern Conference Semifinals series 2-1 over #2 Traktor. Shakir Mukhamadullin had an even rating, 3 shots, and averaged 15:01 across the opening 3 games of the series last week.
Playoff Stats: 8 GP 0-0-0, +2, 4 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.6 SH/GP, 14:51 ATOI
#1 SKA is tied 1-1 with #7 Spartak in their Western Conference Semifinals series. Zakhar Bardakov was a -2 with a shot, won 13/27 faceoffs (48.15%), and averaged 12:17 across both of those games.
Playoff Stats: 6 GP 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 0.5 SH/GP, 10:10 ATOI
Liiga, Mestis, & U20-SM-sarja
Eetu Pakkila had an assist, even rating, 2 shots, and averaged 13:58 across 3 games last week. Ilves will conclude their regular season today against Sport. They are currently 2nd in Liiga and guaranteed of advancing directly to the Quarterfinals.
Topias Vilen was a +2 with 2 PIM, 4 shots, and averaged 17:45 across 3 games last week. Pelicans will conclude their regular season today against HPK. They are currently 10th (based off Pts%) and need to finish in the top 10 to make the playoffs (7-10 play in the wildcard round).
Samu Salminen had 4 assists (2 EV, 2 PP), an even rating, 2 PIM, 12 shots, won 37/47 faceoffs (78.72%), and averaged 17:35 across 3 games last week. He missed Sunday’s game against Karpat U20. They will conclude their regular season today against HIFK U20. Jokerit U20 will finish the regular season as the top team.
SHL, Allsvenskan, & J20 Nationell
Before we get into Nikola Pasic’s week, a slight note on his stats. It seems that a 404 error is preventing his 2/18 game from showing up in his game log, which is why my stats have him with an extra game played. The summary page from the Allsvenksan has all the details for that game, just not their normal statistics page which is inaccessible for that game.
Sodertalje SK finished 13th in the league and is playing 14th IF Troja-Ljungby in a best of 7 series to determine who will stay in the Allsvenskan and who will get relegated. In Sodertalje’s Game 1 victory last Saturday, Pasic had 2 assists (1 EV, 1 PP), +1, a shot, and played 17:05. Check out his 2nd assist of the game below:
In their Game 2 victory, Pasic had a PP assist, even rating, 2 PIM, and a shot in 15:55. Check out that assist below:
Relegation Series Stats: 2 GP 0-3-3, +1, 2 PIM, 16:30 ATOI
Viktor Hurtig was a -1 with 3 shots in Mora IK J20’s final regular season game last Tuesday. They will start the playoffs tomorrow against Hurtig’s former team, the Vaxjo Lakers J20. This is a Round of 16 game and appears to be a best of 3 series.
The Rest of Europe
Swiss National League, Czech Extraliga, & Czech 1.liga
Lausanne HC finished 7th in the National League and are taking on #10 HC Ambri-Piotta in a best of 3 pre-playoff series. Benjamin Baumgartner was a -1 with a shot in 9:46 of their Game 1 loss last Friday. In their Game 2 victory on Sunday, Baumgartner had an even rating in 9:09 of ice time. The decisive Game 3 is today.
Playoff Stats: 2 GP 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 9:27 ATOI
Jaromir Pytlik and Rytiri Kladno are still awaiting their opponent for a relegation series in mid-April.
When we last checked in on Jakub Malek he was leaving Game 3 of his team’s Quarterfinals series due to injury. At that time #2 VHK Vsetin was tied 1-1 in the best of 5 series against #7 HC Slavia Praha. VHK Vsetin ended up losing that game but were able to get Malek back immediately for the next game. Last Tuesday, Malek made 26 saves on 28 shots in 73:46 as VHK Vsetin won Game 4 in overtime. Malek then led VHK Vsetin to a series clinching win in Game 5 last Thursday when he made 32 saves on 33 shots.
#2 VHK Vsetin is now taking on #8 LHK Jestrabi Prostejov in the Semifinals. Malek had a 24 save shutout in a Game 1 victory last Sunday as they jumped out to a 1-0 series lead in the best of 7 series. VHK Vsetin won Game 2 yesterday to take a 2-0 series lead but Malek didn’t dress for it. I haven’t found a reason for this but perhaps they didn’t want to start him on consecutive days after his injury scare.
Playoff Stats: 6 GP 4-1, 1.07 GAA, .958 SV%, 2 SO
The Utica Comets went 1-1-1 last week. They continue to lead the Eastern Conference with a 35-13-6-1 record and 77 points. Their 20.8 PP% ranks 8th in the league while their 81.6 PK% ranks 13th.
Tuesday 3/15: The Utica Comets defeated the Belleville Senators 3-2 in overtime. Belleville jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from Maxence Guenette and Logan Shaw in the first half of the game. Utica responded with a goal late in the 2nd period by Reilly Walsh, assisted by Nate Schnarr and Fabian Zetterlund. Midway through the 3rd period, Robbie Russo tied the game with Alexander Holtz and Ryan Schmezler earning the assists. Kevin Bahl had the game winning goal in overtime with Joe Gambardella and Fabian Zetterlund picking up the assists. Zetterlund, Schmelzer, and Michael Vukojevic led the Comets with 4 shots each. Akira Schmid made 24 saves on 26 shots to earn the victory. Utica outshot Belleville 36-26 and went 0/3 on the PP and 3/3 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and lineup:
Saturday 3/19: The Utica Comets lost 3-2 to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Frederik Gauthier opened the scoring late in the 1st period. The Penguins would then score 3 straight goals over the final 2 periods to take a 3-1 lead. Robbie Russo scored on the PP with 5 seconds remaining in the game with Graeme Clarke and A.J. Greer earning the assists. Fabian Zetterlund led the Comets with 5 shots. Akira Schmid made 16 saves on 19 shots. The Comets outshot the Penguins 28-19 and went 1/5 on the PP and 4/4 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and lineup:
Monday 3/21: The Utica Comets suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to the Cleveland Monsters. A strong 2nd period that saw Cleveland outshoot Utica 19-5 saw the Monsters score twice. Utica reversed momentum in the 3rd period, outshooting Cleveland 15-6. The Comets staged a thrilling comeback when Frederik Gauthier scored with 49 seconds left in regulation after a great effort by Fabian Zetterlund to win a loose puck and create havoc in front of the goal. 25 seconds later, A.J. Greer would score the tying goal after more pressure with Robbie Russo and Tyler Wotherspoon earning the assists. The overtime period was 5 straight minutes without a whistle of back and forth 3v3 action. Mareks Mitens stepped up to make some impressive saves, Reilly Walsh shutdown a couple of Cleveland rushes at the blue line to create immediate chances the other way for Utica, and Alexander Holtz had a few nice looks but was unable to secure the winning goal. Mitens stopped the first 2 shooters he faced in the shootout before being beat. Holtz, Greer, and Zetterlund were unable to convert in the shootout for Utica. Walsh and Brian Flynn had 6 shots followed by Holtz and Zetterlund with 5 shots to lead the Comets. Mareks Mitens had a strong performance by making 35 saves on 37 shots. Overall, Utica was outshot by Cleveland 37-36. Remarkably, there were no penalties in the game despite it being rather physical at times. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and line up:
- 23 year old forward Nate Schnarr was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens organization yesterday in the Andrew Hammond trade. Schnarr was notably one of the players the Devils received in the Taylor Hall trade with the Arizona Coyotes a few years ago. He leaves the Devils organization having played in 97 AHL games with 21 goals and 28 assists. This season has been a breakout year for him with 13 goals and 13 assists in 43 games. As of yesterday afternoon, Schnarr was tied-4th in goals for Utica and tied-7th in points. His 0.60 points per game rate ranked 6th on the team (minimum 20 games played). Schnarr started the season as a healthy scratch but quickly earned an important role for the Comets. It’s worth noting that Schanrr is waiver eligible in 2022-23 so the Devils were willing to trade him to get something in return for this season before possibly losing him in a roster crunch next season. I wish him the best in the Canadiens organization and hope he gets a chance to show what he can do at the NHL level.
- Forwards Nolan Foote and Chase De Leo missed these past few games due to injury.
- Right Wing Graeme Clarke had 15 points over his first 20 games of the season but since returning from an injury that sidelined him for all of January and part of February, he has just 4 points in 15 games.
- Wing Fabian Zetterlund continued to produce with 3 assists (all EV) and 14 shots across 3 games last week. I really think his game is well suited for a bottom 6 role in New Jersey next season.
Coming Up: The Utica Comets have a busy week coming up. They will take on Bridgeport tomorrow, Syracuse on Friday, Providence on Sunday, and Hartford on Monday.
Adirondack had a mixed week, losing 5-3 to Maine on Wednesday, defeating Reading 3-2 on Friday, losing 5-2 to Reading on Saturday, and defeating Reading 5-2 on Sunday. They will play 3 games this week, taking on Newfoundland tomorrow and Worcester on Friday and Saturday.
Which prospects stood out to you last week? What are your thoughts on Nate Schnarr being traded? How would you rate Artem Shlaine’s sophomore season? What are your expectations for Ethan Edwards, Luke Hughes, and Michigan in the NCAA Tournament? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!