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Utica Comets Update: Nemec is back

Utica may be struggling, but Simon Nemec is not. This post updates on the Devils prospects in the AHL.

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
Nemec has been terrific since returning from injury.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Utica Comets

The Comets currently sit fifth in the North Division, a full five points back of the 4th place Toronto Marlies. The Comets are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games but have lost their last two including a 7-0 drubbing from the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday night. Issac Poulter surrendered all seven goals for the Comets, knocking his meteoric stats back down to earth. As of Sunday, Poulter has a 5-2-1 record, 2.62 GAA and .914 SV% for Utica, so Saturday’s game is an outlier to an otherwise impressive season. It is the other end of the goalie platoon that has kept the Comets from gaining any momentum: Erik Kallgren and his 1-4-2 record, 3.57 GAA and .874 SV% have not helped matters.

Utica’s offense is being led by Xavier Parent and Kyle Criscuolo with 13 points apiece. Both are small in stature. Parent is 5’8 per the official AHL website and Criscuolo is 5’9. It is probably too late for the veteran Criscuolo, but Parent is only 22-years-old and is worth keeping an eye on even if his path to the NHL will be a difficult one. He will need to sign a two-way deal like Samuel Laberge just signed first though.

One bit of news in Utica. The Devils traded Tyce Thompson to the Islanders for 24-year-old forward Arnaud Durandeau. Neither Thompson or Durandeau had been able to stick with the big club, with Durandeau getting his four game cup of coffee last season and Thompson’s injury woes very well known to Devils fans. This move may help Utica though. Durandeau has put up better AHL numbers than Thompson including 55 points in 68 games last season and 7 points in only 12 games this year. By comparison, Thompson had five points (all assists) in 15 games for Utica this season and only 26 points in 56 last year. As Ethan Sears of the New York Post mused in his article about the trade, this is very much a change in scenery type of deal for both players. So, here’s hoping that scenery change sparks something in both players.

The Prospects

Forwards

Right wings Graeme Clarke and Chase Stillman lead the prospect forwards with 7 and 6 respectively. Although Clarke has an extra point over Stillman in two more games, their stats are very similar and Stillman’s PNHLe is much higher, as that statistic accounts for the age discrepancy. Overall, thus far it is a strong first season of professional hockey for Stillman and a disappointing one for Clarke, who is currently 25 points behind last year’s breakout pace. It’s early yet though and a few strong games would right the ship for Clarke.

Defensemen

It is no surprise that Simon Nemec is stealing the show since returning from injury and is now up to 8 points in 12 games, which leads all the prosects and is third overall on the entire team. Nemec’s PNHLe potential is atmospheric, well above that of a top line defender in the NHL and halfway to superstar status.

In a small sample size of only six games, Topias Vilen is not far behind on the PNHLe scale. With the logjam of defensemen in Utica, Topias Vilen has suited for two games for Andirondack of the ECHL adding another two assists for his efforts. Vilen has six points in eight games across both professional leagues, not bad for a 20-year-old defender known for his defensive prowess. Of course, the sample size is small. He needs to play more games for the Comets. Hopefully, he will soon.

Daniil Misyul is also having a strong start in North America. Known for his aggressive defensive play and closing gaps, Misyul’s 6 points in 14 games is one less than he totaled all of last season in 59 contests for Lokomotiv. Foote and Hatakka have pretty much been as advertised so far this season for the Comets. And Vukojevic is what he is at this point.

Around the Pool

  • Jeremy Brodeur has been getting the most starts in the Devils ECHL affiliate in Andirondack and has the best numbers by far of all three netminders with a 4-2-0 record, 2.20 GAA and .925 SV%. However, prospect Tyler Brennan may be turning a corner stopping 27 of 28 in his first professional win against the Reading Royals.
  • This should just be criminal.
  • The Devils signed Utica Comet Samuel Laberge to a two-way, one-year deal, which would make him eligible to be called up to the big club. Prior to this, Laberge was on a AHL contract. Laberge provides extra center depth. He has played 8 games for the Comets this season, putting up three points.
  • Forward Petr Hauser has been playing on HC Sparta’s U20 team and has 7 points in 2 games there per Elite Prospects. Good that he’s dominating. Bad that he’s not playing on the big club right now. Hopefully, this is just a temporary move.
  • Nothing official yet. Just projected.

Final Thoughts

Now it is time to tell us what you think. Post your comments below.