Heading into the 2022-23 season, the New Jersey Devils have a trio of prospects looking to earn an Entry-Level Contract (ELC) with the team. These players are forwards Nikola Pasic and Patrick Moynihan as well as defenseman Case McCarthy. All of these players were selected by the Devils in the 2019 NHL Draft. The Devils hold the rights to McCarthy and Moynihan, both collegiate players, until August 15, 2023. They hold Pasic’s rights until June 1, 2023, as he was drafted out of Europe. This post will look at how these prospects are developing, what the 2022-23 season could hold for them, and their chances of earning a contract.
Let’s start with Nikola Pasic as his signing deadline is June 1, 2023. Pasic is a left-handed shooting forward capable of playing center or wing. He will turn 22 years old on October 16 and is listed by Elite Prospects at 5’10”, 187 lbs. The Devils drafted the offensively skilled forward in the 7th round of the 2019 Draft. Considering that he was ranked 52nd by Elite Prospects, 53rd by McKeen’s Hockey, 77th by FC Hockey, and 88th among European Skaters by NHL Central Scouting, it seemed like a great value selection. As we can see from his Elite Prospects profile, Pasic was described as an offensively gifted forward that could make plays:
He has a quick release on his wrist shot and is dangerous when shooting while moving at his top speed, McKeen’s Hockey 2019
Pasic is a dangler, where he uses his stickhandling to dazzle opponents and gets around them using fast hands and great balance, Hockeyprospect.com 2019
His excellent vision and passing skills bode well for his teammates and he is great at making plays happen, Future Considerations 2019
At the time of his draft, he had put up 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points in 33 J20 SuperElit games. He also played some professional hockey that season with 15 games in the top flight, SHL, as well as 2 games in the 2nd tier, Allsvenskan.
His draft+1 season in 2019-20 saw Pasic take a big jump by playing well for BIK Karlskoga in the Allsvenskan. As you can see from his stats above, he was productive with 8 goals and 27 assists for 35 points in 45 games. He led U20 players in assists, points, and points per game and seemed on the right track. Already comfortable at the Allsvenskan level, Pasic returned to Linköping HC ahead of the 2020-21 season.
His draft+2 season would see Pasic play 52 games at the top level in Swedish hockey with 7 goals and 8 assists for 15 points with Linköping HC. He would average 12:56 in ice time per game. Solid production for a player in his first full SHL season but it was a bit concerning to see his production from the Allsvenskan not translate over. Overall, his 0.29 points per game rate ranked 17th out of 36 U21 players that played at least 35 SHL games that season.
His draft+3 season in 2021-22 would see him struggle to earn playing time for Linköping HC in the SHL, appearing in just 13 games with no points. He would average just 8:06 of ice time per game. He would return to the Allsvenskan in the middle of the season to play with Södertälje SK. Seemingly comfortable at that level, he posted 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points in 29 games. Among U22 players in that league that played in at least 25 games, his 0.52 points per game ranked 8th. He also got to play a lot more, averaging 16:35 in ice time per game. One interesting thing I should note is that he hasn’t taken a penalty over the past 2 regular seasons so he seems to play a disciplined game.
Below, you can see how the Hockey Prospecting and Top Down Hockey models view Pasic’s development through his draft+3 season. Overall, he was trending to be an NHL player after his draft+1 season but his inability to make an impact at the top level of Swedish hockey has hurt his chances.
Pasic is set to once again play for Södertälje SK in the Allsvenskan next season. It will be an important year for him as he is not only trying to earn an NHL contract but it’s his final year on his deal with Södertälje SK. Even if he doesn’t do enough to earn a contract with New Jersey, he still will be looking to make a career out of hockey in Sweden. I’m disappointed he hasn’t been able to make an impact at the SHL level, but perhaps playing another season in the Allsvenskan is the right level for him now. Pasic should play in the top 6 Södertälje SK so he will have plenty of chances to showcase his skills for the Devils. Hopefully, he can take advantage of the regular ice time and produce at a high level.
Now let’s look at the prospects whose signing deadline is August 15, 2023. First, we have Case McCarthy, a 6’1”, 198 lbs. right-handed defenseman. He will turn 22 years old on January 9 and is entering his senior season at Boston University. He was drafted by the Devils in the 4th round of the 2019 Draft which was in line with where he was ranked at the time. Thanks to his Elite Prospects page we can see what was said about his game at the time of his draft:
He is a big hitter and the type of big hitter that is extremely effective without pulling himself out of position to lay down the boom, McKeen’s Hockey 2019
Rarely skating the puck up the ice, he prefers to use his excellent breakout pass to exit the zone., Future Considerations 2019
As you can see from his stats below, he was coming off of a solid draft year with the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP) that also saw him compete at the U18 World Championship where he earned a Bronze Medal.
In his draft+1 season in 2019-20, he became a regular on the 3rd pair for Boston University and was able to contribute some offense from the blue line, finishing 3rd on the team in scoring by a defenseman with 12 points in 32 games. He also finished 6th in scoring among U19 defensemen in the NCAA. Unfortunately, like a lot of prospects, the Covid shortened season of 2020-21 would impact his draft+2 season. He was only able to play in 12 games for Boston University and had just 2 points.
His draft+3 season of 2021-22, would see him earn more responsibility for Boston University. He posted 5 goals and 9 assists for 14 points in 26 games which were 3rd on the team in scoring by a defenseman. He was primarily on the 2nd pair for his first 8 games but then solidified himself on the top pair over his last 18 games. As you’ll see below, the projection models aren’t optimistic about him which isn’t surprising since they are based on point production. However, McCarthy has now shown the ability to play as a top pair defenseman, in all situations, and with a physical element in the NCAA. His NHL upside is limited to that of a 3rd pair defenseman if he makes it but I wouldn’t write him off just yet.
Looking ahead to next season, an important part of the team, he has already been named an assistant captain for his senior year. He’ll once again play big minutes on the top pair to showcase his game. Though the Devils have addressed right-handed defensive depth in the organization, I’m inclined to think that a solid season should earn him a contract. At the very least he would provide some more depth for them at the AHL level for at least a few seasons. I’m looking forward to seeing how he progresses this upcoming season.
Finally, we have Patrick Moynihan, a 5’11”, 190 lbs., right-handed shooting forward. He will turn 22 years old on January 23. He was primarily a center entering college but has since seen most of his playing time at right wing which has allowed him to utilize his shot more. The Devils drafted him in the 6th round of the 2019 Draft which seemed like good value considering he was ranked 72nd by McKeen’s Hockey, 99th by FC Hockey, and 73rd among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Thanks to his Elite Prospects profile, we can see how Moynihan was described entering the draft:
He is a diligent and versatile forward, able to impact the game in both offensive and defensive roles, McKeen’s Hockey 2019
He has a good shot and is able to release it quickly to fool opposing goaltenders, Future Considerations 2019
Moynihan, like McCarthy, is another USNTDP product, where they were both teammates with Jack Hughes in 2018-19. His draft year production is modest but it’s important to note that he was playing on a loaded team and was used as a versatile forward down the lineup. He was also a member of the USA team that won a Bronze Medal at the U18 World Championships.
His draft+1 season in 2019-20 would see him make an immediate impact for Providence College with 13 goals and 8 assists for 21 points in 34 games. Those 13 goals were 3rd on the team, trailing fellow Devils prospect Tyce Thompson’s 19 goals and ahead of new Utica Comets player Jack Dugan’s 10 goals. His 13 goals placed him 3rd among U19 players that season in the NCAA.
In his draft+2 season of 2020-21, Moynihan was nearly a point per game player with 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points in 17 games. His 0.88 points per game rate ranked tied-9th among U20 players in the NCAA. He was also a member of the USA team that captured a Gold Medal at the U20 World Junior Championship that season.
His draft+3 season of 2021-22 would see Moynihan post 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in 38 games for Providence as the team’s top line right wing. He was a bit streaky last season, with 3 points over his opening 12 games, then he had 22 points over his next 21 games, before ending the season with no points over his final 5 games. As you can see below, the projection models aren’t the most optimistic about Moynihan’s NHL chances due to his lack of consistency.
The 2022-23 season should see Moynihan continue to play on the top line for Providence along with more special teams time. He’ll certainly be given an opportunity to impress the Devils’ scouts. From an offensive standpoint, I hope he can produce consistently, at above a point per game pace, and be a real difference maker for Providence. However, we shouldn’t overlook the leadership intangibles, defensive game, and versatility that Moynihan has brought to the ice since his USNTDP days that have made him a favorite of many of his teammates. His NHL upside is limited but he could still develop into a solid 4th line player that can help out on the PK at the NHL level should he reach it. At the very least, he seems like he could provide organizational depth at the AHL level for a few seasons. Given his overall game and how highly ex-teammates such as Jack Hughes speak of him, I tend to think he is likely to get a contract from New Jersey with a solid season in 2022-23.
What is your opinion on each of these prospects? Do you expect any of these players to make an impact in New Jersey in the future? Which prospects do you expect to have good seasons and get signed? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!