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New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: 4/12/22

This past week saw the season come to an end for Ethan Edwards and Luke Hughes, Artem Shaline and Cole Brady complete their transfers, and the Utica Comets clinch a playoff spot.

NCAA HOCKEY: APR 07 Div I Men’s Frozen Four - Denver v Michigan
Luke Hughes and Michigan fell short of a national title in the Frozen Four but he still had a very successful season.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the 26th week of the 2021-22 New Jersey Devils prospect update! This past week saw Ethan Edwards and Luke Hughes season come to an end as Denver eliminated Michigan in the Frozen Four. It also saw fellow college prospects Artem Shlaine and Cole Brady announce their transfers. We also learned a bit about a college prospect being invited to the upcoming Devils development camp this summer. Overseas, Zakhar Bardakov helped SKA get to within a game of the Gagarin Cup Finals and Jakub Malek is trying to help VHK Vsetin come back in the Finals of the Czech 1.Liga. The Utica Comets also clinched a playoff spot despite having a tough week. Let’s check in on each prospect now.

OHL

Chase Stillman had a goal, 2 assists (1 EV, 1 SH), +2, 2 PIM, and 3 shots across 3 games last week as he helped Peterborough clinch a playoff spot. Peterborough will conclude their regular season on Sunday against Kingston. Check out this nice goal he had on a partial breakaway:

NCAA

Last week, Artem Shlaine announced that he was transferring to Northern Michigan University. A quick glance at last season’s Northern Michigan roster shows that they had an older forward group with 6 seniors departing so there should certainly be an opportunity for him to earn top 6 minutes.

Last week, Cole Brady announced that he was transferring to the University of Massachusetts. They have an opening after senior Matt Murray completed his outstanding career which included 2 Hockey East Championships (2018-19 and 2020-21) and a National Championship (2020-21). From last year’s roster, Brady will be competing with Henry Graham (1 GP in 2 seasons) and Luke Pavicich (4 GP, 1.62 GAA, .933 SV%, 1-1 as a freshman last year). It also appears that he’ll be competing with incoming freshman, Colin Purcell, who had a 2.55 GAA, .889 SV%, and 4-2 record for the Penticton Vees in the BCHL last year. I’m interested in seeing if Brady wins the starting job and how well he does with a better defense in front of him compared to Arizona State. We should learn a lot about his development next season.

Ethan Edwards was a +1 with a shot in Michigan’s 3-2 loss to Denver in the Frozen Four last Thursday. Denver would go on to defeated Minnesota State for the National Championship two days later. Overall, I would say Edwards had a successful freshman season for Michigan, eventually going from the rotation to a solid 3rd pairing partner for the Michigan captain Nick Blankenburg. I’m excited to see how he performs in a top 4 role next season.

Luke Hughes was a -2 with 2 shots in Michigan’s loss. He had a chance to win it in overtime but the puck rolled on him and his shot was stopped by the goaltender. He was on the ice for Denver’s winning goal as Jimmy Lambert, a forward for Michigan, was unable to clear the zone, leading to some confusion in Michigan’s end. Hughes covered the backdoor option in front of the crease but Carter Savoie snuck in past Lambert to receive the pass in front of the goal, get the shot off, and beat Hughes to the rebound for the winning goal. You can see both of those plays below:

Prior to the game, Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported that Hughes is leaning towards returning to Michigan for another season. I certainly think that is the right move for him at this point in his development. He dominated offensively with 17 goals and 22 assists in 41 games. He led all NCAA defensemen in goals and points. His transition skills are elite. However, while his defensive play did improve as the season went on, he still has more work to do. He turns 19 in September and is still filling out his frame. With Owen Power turning pro, Hughes will have an opportunity to jump to the top pairing and play big minutes in all situations. I think one more season of college hockey is exactly what he needs at this point in time.

Also, I want to congratulate Hughes for being named a Second-Team All-American this season. What an impressive freshman season Luke Hughes had!

It appears that we have our first invite to the upcoming Devils development camp this summer. Mark Divver reports that 6’6”, 210 lbs. wing Ondrej Psenicka has been invited. The 21 year old Czech is coming off a strong freshman season with Cornell that saw him put up 12 goals and 9 assists in 32 games. He was tied-9th in goals by a freshman and was 3rd on his team. He had a really high SH% at 17.65% and averaged 2.13 shots per game. It’s worth noting that he didn’t really have a 2020-21 season so this was certainly an encouraging performance. Prior to entering college hockey, he had 6 goals and 12 assists in 43 games with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the USHL in 2019-20 and he dominated the Czech U19 league in 2018-19 with 30 goals and 40 assists in 45 regular season games. In the playoffs that season he had 7 goals and 10 assists in 9 games.

Russia

KHL & VHL

Yegor Zaitsev Playoff Stats: 11 GP 0-2-2, -4, 8 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.2 SH/GP, 17:57 ATOI

Daniil Misyul Playoff Stats: 3 GP 0-0-0, -3, 2 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 0.0 SH/GP, 13:36 ATOI

Arseni Gritsyuk Playoff Stats: 13 GP 6-4-10, -5, 4 PIM, 12.2 SH%, 3.8 SH/GP, 17:12 ATOI

Shakir Mukhamadullin Playoff Stats: 11 GP 0-0-0, -3, 4 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.4 SH/GP, 15:23 ATOI

#1 SKA leads their Western Conference Finals series 3-2 over #3 CSKA. Zakhar Bardakov was a -3 with 3 shots and won 2/10 faceoffs in 17:15 of a Game 3 loss. He turned it around in a Game 4 victory with an assist, +1, a shot, and won 4/13 faceoffs in 15:43. In a Game 5 victory he had an assist, even rating, a shot, and won 6/14 faceoffs in 16:14. Game 6 will take place today. Metallurg Mg, the top seed from the Eastern Conference, has already advanced to the Gagarin Cup Final.

Playoff Stats: 14 GP 0-2-2, -7, 8 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.1 SH/GP, 12:17 ATOI

Finland

Liiga, Mestis, & U20-SM-sarja

#3 Ilves is tied 1-1 with #4 TPS in the Liiga Semifinals. Eetu Pakkila hasn’t played since the 3rd game of the playoffs back on March 30. I haven’t been able to find out if he’s just a healthy scratch or if he’s injured.

Playoff Stats: 3 GP 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 0.7 SH/GP, 15:05 ATOI

Topias Vilen Playoff Stats: 3 GP 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.66 SH/GP, 13:51 ATOI

Samu Salminen Playoff Stats: 2 GP 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 0.0 SH%, 1.5 SH/GP, 50.0 FO% 20:59 ATOI

Sweden

SHL, Allsvenskan, & J20 Nationell

Nikola Pasic Playout Stats: 6 GP 0-4-4, E, 2 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 0.83 SH/GP, 14:53 ATOI

Viktor Hurtig Playoff Stats: 5 GP 0-2-2, -2, 0 PIM

The Rest of Europe

Swiss National League, Czech Extraliga, & Czech 1.liga

Quality Start Percentage (QS%); Really Bad Start Percentage (RBS%); Bail Out Percentage (BO%); Goals Allowed Percentage Minus (GA%-); Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA); Goals Saved Above Average per 60 Minutes (GSAA/60); Goals Saved Above Average per 30 Shots (GSAA/30)

Benjamin Baumgartner Playoff Stats: 7 GP 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0.00 SH%, 0.14 SH/GP, 7:36 ATOI

Jaromir Pytlik and Rytiri Kladno are still awaiting their opponent for a relegation series in mid-April.

#2 Vsetin trails #4 Jihlava 3-2 in the Czech 1.Liga Finals. Jakub Malek did not dress in Games 3 and 4. He returned to the lineup for Game 5 which Vsetin lost 6-3. He made 12 saves on 13 shots in 40:04 of relief after Vsetin’s starter David Gaba made just 8 saves on 12 shots. Game 6 is today and a possible Game 7 would be Thursday.

Playoff Stats: 12 GP 7-3, 1.82 GAA, .927 SV%, 2 SO

AHL

Quality Start Percentage (QS%); Really Bad Start Percentage (RBS%); Bail Out Percentage (BO%); Goals Allowed Percentage Minus (GA%-); Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA); Goals Saved Above Average per 60 Minutes (GSAA/60); Goals Saved Above Average per 30 Shots (GSAA/30); Workload (WL) - Shots Per 60 Minutes

The Utica Comets lost all 3 of their games this past week but did manage to grab a point in an overtime loss. They continue to lead the Eastern Conference with a 39-18-7-1 record. They now have 7 games left in the regular season. Their 23.1 PP% ranks 5th in the league and their 81.4 PK% is tied for 11th. The Utica Comets did clinch a playoff spot as Belleville lost in regulation to Laval last night.

Wednesday 4/6: The Utica Comets lost 4-3 (OT) to the Belleville Senators. The opening minutes of the game featured an intense start as Samuel Laberge was throwing big hits and Patrick McGrath fought Scott Sabourin in a spirited scrap. Reilly Walsh gave Utica an early lead but missed on a great opportunity. Laberge then drew a PP and wisely didn’t take the bait when a few of the Belleville players attempted to get him to respond. Chase De Leo would give Utica a 1-0 lead on the ensuing PP after some great puck movement from Ryan Schmelzer, Nolan Foote, and Reilly Walsh. Foote and Walsh earned the assists on that goal. Later in the period, Joe Gambardella had a great breakaway chance on the PK but was unable to convert. A few minutes later, Laberge set up Graeme Clarke but Senators goaltender Filip Gustavsson made the save. Just after that, Utica lost a defensive zone faceoff and the ensuing puck battle and Zac Leslie set up Egor Sokolov for Belleville to even the game.

The 2nd period would feature just as much action as Akira Schmid had to make some nice saves early on to keep the game tied. However, McGrath would take a penalty and Logan Shaw would convert on the PP just under 5 minutes into the period to give Belleville a 2-1 lead. Midway through the period, Nolan Foote would equalize for Utica with a deflection that was set up by Michael Vukojevic and Tyce Thompson. Unfortunately for Utica, blown coverage with under 2 minutes left in the period would allow Colby Williams to give Belleville a 3-2 lead.

Utica would get their chances in the 3rd period though. Tyce Thompson would draw and early PP and then nearly score on it. Eventually, Alexander Holtz scored on a delayed penalty call to even the game with just under 8 minutes left in regulation. De Leo and Gambardella earned the assists on that goal. De Leo would then earn Utica a PP as time expired in the 3rd. However, Utica was unable to score with the man advantage in OT. It’s worth noting that Thompson had a good look on goal but passed up the shot and in another sequence Holtz made a nice move to get a quality look on goal. After the PP expired, Belleville would score on a 2v1 when Kevin Bahl fell down defending in his own zone. De Leo would lead the Comets with 5 shots followed by Holtz and Walsh with 4 shots. Schmid made 30 saves on 34 shots in 63:27. Utica was outshot 34-30. The Comets went 1/5 on the PP and 1/2 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and lineup:

Lineup:

15 Gambardella - 26 Schmelzer - 9 Holtz

25 Foote - 7 De Leo - 12 Thompson

39 Laberge - 10 Flynn - 92 Clarke

13 McGrath - 77 Talvitie - 24 Halonen

23 Wotherspoon - 22 Walsh

82 Okhotiuk - 5 Russo

2 Vukojevic - 88 Bahl

93 Schmid

34 Mitens

Scratches: Gauthier (lower body injury), Groleau (injury)

PP1: Halonen, Flynn, Holtz, Thompson, Russo

PP2: De Leo, Schmelzer, Foote, Walsh, Bahl

PK1: Foote, Schmelzer, Wotherspoon, Russo

PK2: Gambardella, Talvitie, Okhotiuk, Bahl

PK3: Laberge, Thompson

Friday 4/8: The Utica Comets lost 4-1 to the Belleville Senators. Mareks Mitens started the game but made just 3 saves on 6 shots in 4:58 before being removed. Akira Schmid did well with 22 saves on 23 shots, only surrendering a Belleville PP goal, in 52:22 but the 3-0 hole proved to be too much for Utica to overcome. Tyce Thompson once again showed that he was willing to drop the gloves, this time after sustaining a cross-check from Colby Williams midway through the 1st period. The Comets did earn a PP from the situation but were unable to capitalize. Tyler Irvine had the lone Comets goal which came unassisted in the 2nd period. Robbie Russo led the Comets with 5 shots followed by Reilly Walsh with 4. Utica outshot Belleville 34-29 and went 0/3 on the PP and 0/1 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and lineup:

Saturday 4/9: The Utica Comets lost 5-3 to the Laval Rocket. Utica got off to a hot start in the opening period with 3 goals, all scored within 2 minutes of each other. Alexander Holtz had the 1st goal with Tyce Thompson and Chase De Leo earning the assists. Then, Ryan Schmelzer scored on the PP with Holtz and Reilly Walsh picking up the assists. Nolan Foote had the 3rd goal with Michael Vukojevic and Robbie Russo earning the assists. However, the lead wouldn’t last long as Laval scored 3 straight goals to close out the period. The recently traded Nate Schnarr had the primary assist on 2 of those goals for Laval. He now has a goal and 3 assists in 11 games since joining his new team. Former New Jersey Devil Jean-Sebastien Dea had 2 goals (1 EN) in the 3rd period to close out the game for Laval. Foote led the Comets with 7 shots followed by Tyler Irvine with 5. Akira Schmid made 33 saves on 37 shots in the loss. Utica was outshot by Laval 38-37. The Comets went 1/4 on the PP and 4/4 on the PK. Here is the gamesheet, highlights, and lineup:

Notes:

  • Alexander Holtz had 2 more goals and an assist last week to bring his season total up to 24 goals and 23 assists in 47 games. Among U21 skaters (minimum 35 GP), Holtz is one of four players averaging at least a point per game. The others include Jack Quinn (1.46 Pts/GP in 37 GP), John Peterka (1.00 Pts/GP in 62 GP), and Lukas Reichel (1.00 Pts/GP in 49 GP).
  • Graeme Clarke has no points in his last 6 games and just 5 goals in 25 games since returning from an injury that caused him to miss all of January and part of February. He’s shooting at 10.64% during this stretch but is averaging just 1.88 shots per game. Hopefully he can start getting a few more shots on goal to close out the regular season and into the playoffs.
  • Nolan Foote returned from an injury that caused him to miss 10 straight games. He immediately started to produce with 2 goals and an assist in 3 games last week.
  • Congrats to Kevin Bahl, Fabian Zetterlund, and A.J. Greer on their recent callup to New Jersey!
  • Tyce Thompson had 2 more assists last week to give him 6 points in 5 games since his return at the start of April.
  • Reilly Walsh had 2 more assists last week to bring his season totals to 7 goals and 31 assists in 64 games. He is currently 3rd in points among U23 defensemen and 2nd in assists among that group.

Coming Up: Utica will take on Syracuse on Friday night and Belleville on Saturday night.

ECHL

Quality Start Percentage (QS%); Really Bad Start Percentage (RBS%); Bail Out Percentage (BO%); Goals Allowed Percentage Minus (GA%-); Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA); Goals Saved Above Average per 60 Minutes (GSAA/60); Goals Saved Above Average per 30 Shots (GSAA/30); Workload (WL) - Shots Per 60 Minutes

Adirondack lost 4-3 to Reading last Wednesday and defeated Worcester 6-4 last Sunday. They remain last in the North Division with a 27-37-3-0 record.

Adirondack will conclude their season with 4 games this week. They will take on Trois-Rivieres tonight, Reading on Friday and Saturday, and Newfoundland on Sunday.

Your Take

Which prospects stood out to you last week? Do you think returning to Michigan for another season is the right move for Luke Hughes’ development? What do you think about the transfers by Artem Shlaine and Cole Brady? How do you feel about the season Alexander Holtz is having in the AHL? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!