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New Jersey Devils CHL Prospect Update: We’re Number Two Edition

Scott Wheeler of the Athletic recently ranked the Devils prospect pool second in the NHL behind only the Minnesota Wild. This post highlights the Devils recent drafting successes and updates on the juniors Devils prospects in Canada.

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New Jersey Devils Headshots
In addition to some top picks, the Devils have had tremendous success finding late round gems in recent years. 18 year-old winger Josh Filmon is already looking like one of those gems.
Photo by Rich Graessle/NHLI via Getty Images


Scott Wheeler of the Athletic recently ranked the Devils prospect pool second in the NHL. [The Athletic $] This puts the Devils in the rare and enviable position of having one of the best teams in the NHL and still owning one of the best prospect pools. As in all good things in life, it won’t last as players graduate and top picks and prospects are moved for more immediate help as the Devils are in cup contention once again. That said, it’s fair to ask in rare moments such as these, how did we get here?


Lou Lamoriello is a legend and will forever be remembered as the GM who brought three Stanley Cups to New Jersey. Lou did Lou things trying to keep the team relevant in the waning years of Martin Brodeur’s legendary career, the last highpoint being a Stanley Cup finals loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2012. Trouble started immediately thereafter with Zach Parise leaving that summer for the Minnesota Wild and Ilya Kovalchuk returning to Russia the following year. With Brodeur nearing his retirement, it was clearly time for a rebuild.

Lou doesn’t do rebuilds.

During the 2013 NHL entry draft, Lou stunned the home crowd by trading the 9th overall pick, who became Bo Horvat, to Vancouver for Corey Schneider. Lou’s scouts would mostly whiff on the rest of the draft picking only Steven Santini (2nd Round) and Miles Wood (4th Round) as players who ever suited up in the NHL. Schneider, for his part, was one of the league’s best goalies before injuries derailed his career, keeping the Devils just relevant enough not to bottom out into a much-needed rebuild, but never good enough to be a serious threat.

During the 2014 NHL entry draft, Lou’s team selected in his final draft as GM only three players who would suit up for NHL games according to HockeyDb.Com: John Quenneville - 42, Joshua Jacobs - 3 and Brandon Baddock - 1. Nothing against these fine gentleman and role players, but Stanley Cup winning teams are not built from this stock. With the Devils now floundering in obscurity in the Metro, it was clearly time for a rebuild.

The Devils could not stay status quo any longer. Enter Ray Shero.


Shero’s tenure as GM of the Devils is what I like to call a “stutterstep” rebuild. In his first two years as GM, Shero clearly intended to do a full rebuild trading out expiring contracts and selecting in the draft players such as Pavel Zacha, Mackenzie Blackwood, Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian and sixth round steal Jesper Bratt, along with other players who would be packaged later into trades for young talent.

Then in June 2016, it happened. The trade was 1:1.

Taylor Hall came to the Devils and in the 2017-2018 season he willed the Devils inexplicably into the playoffs. Shero knew he could not lure Hall to stay on a rebuilding team, so he made some deadline moves trading picks and prospects for rentals such as Michael Grabner and Pat Maroon. The next season would find the Devils in the basement once again after a Taylor Hall injury leading to a late season sell-off at the deadline and the traditional stock-piling of picks in exchange for expiring veteran contracts.

Shero still wanted to lure Hall into an extension so in the off-season, he used some of those extra picks and traded for P.K. Subban and Nikita Gusev. Alas, Taylor Hall would not be lured and Shero’s tenure ended with Mr. 1:1 going to Arizona for a plethora of picks and prospects, which are still felt on the Devils roster in ripples today in the likes of players such as Jonas Siegenthaler (who was later traded for Arizona’s third rounder) and Kevin Bahl.

Shero’s tenure may have been a bit studder-step, but it wasn’t all bad. At the NHL draft, gone were the days of selecting the Connor Chathams and Ryan Rehills of the world. Thanks largely to Taylor Hall’s lottery luck, the Devils selected Nico Hischier 1st overall in 2017, along with other useful players such as Jesper Boqvist and Fabian Zetterlund. In 2018, Shero selected Ty Smith, who his replacement GM Tom Fitzgerald later turned into John Marino, along with fifth round steals Akira Schmid and Yegor Sharangovich.

In Shero’s last draft, he obtained his biggest coup — another lottery ball win to select Jack Hughes first overall along with some other useful prospects including Nikita Ohkotiuk, Graeme Clarke and Arseni Gritsyuk.

Under Shero, the foundation for a better future was being built around young pillars Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt, who were just beginning to stretch their legs in the NHL, when the firing hammer came down on Ray Shero’s tenure as GM of the Devils.


Thanks largely to the Taylor Hall trade, Fitz’s first draft as GM found him with three first round selections. He would use those picks to take Alexander Holtz (7th), Dawson Mercer (18th) and Shakir Mukhamadullin (20th). While the jury is still out on Holtz, the Mukhamadullin pick, much-maligned at the time, now looks much better in retrospect as Big Shak is set to come to North America later this season after excelling in the KHL. For his part, Dawson Mercer has been a regular on the Devils roster for two seasons already. Other players selected in the 2020 NHL entry draft who are still viable prospects include goaltender Nico Daws, defenseman Ethan Edwards and perhaps, center Artem Shlaine.

In 2021, Fitz selected defenseman Luke Hughes 4th overall. Since then, the Littler Hughes has shot to the top of redrafts and is set to join the New Jersey Devils at the end of this season. That draft class added to the ranks of depth with the likes of forwards Chase Stillman, Samu Salminen and Zakhar Bardakov, goaltender Jakub Malek and surging Finnish defender Topias Vilen, who was taken in the fifth round. In last year’s draft, Fitz hit again on some potential late round steals in wingers Josh Filmon (6th round) and Petr Hauser (5th round), while adding two high-end right-shot defensemen to the pool at the top of the draft in Simon Nemec (2nd overall) and Seamus Casey (2nd round).

Tom Fitzgerald inherited a team on the verge of breaking out. A year of historically bad goaltending in 2021 extended the rebuild another season to help fill out the pool. Now the Devils are heading to the trade deadline as buyers, not sellers, for the first time since Shero’s stutter-step during Taylor Hall’s magical season. The perfect storm of horrible that has clouded the Devils for years has lifted. Good times are ahead.


Now the Devils sit with the core that Shero built coming to age and the depth that Tom Fitzgerald added still in the pipeline for many years to come. Enjoy the ride Devil’s fans because, like all great things in life, this won’t last, but don’t let that despair you, as the Devils are just entering their competitive arc and while the prospect pool may diminish as a result, the young talent on this team is likely only to get stronger in the years to come. When the final word is written, will Fitz’s tenure be one of New Jersey dominance and cup collection? If so, will Shero get his share of the credit for putting the foundation together? Whatever the future holds, it was a long, bumpy road to get here and if Fitz and company can keep finding late round gems, who turn into useful NHL players, the team will stay on a high road for an even longer time to come.


Josh Filmon continued his fantastic season by breaking the thirty goal barrier. He’s up to 32 goals as of Saturday morning, which translates to a 62 goal pace over an 82 game season.

Chase Stillman served a three game suspension for instigating a fight with less than five minutes to go in a game and removing a helmet during a fight. The snarl hasn’t translated to more scoring as Stillman has seen a slight downtick in production since last update — down to 0.88 pts/g from 0.90.

Lastly, Tyler Brennan has gone 6-1 since last update and lowered his goals against by almost a half a goal. Although still in a platooning role with Ty Young, Brennan seems to have been the better goaltender on a weakly-defensive Prince George team.

CHL PLAYER OF THE MONTH - A.K.A. the Josh Filmon award

While Josh Filmon is still doing Josh Filmon things, I’m going to give this award to Tyler Brennan for his 6-1 record and bettering of his averages since last update. It’s been a rough season for Brennan, so hopefully this latest stretch is a sign of better days ahead.


  • Akira Schmid earned his second shutout of the season blanking the Hershey Bears 3-0 on Friday night. The Comets goals were scored by Jack Dugan, Nolan Foote and Andreas Johnsson. Schmid’s 2.24 GAA is now 4th in the AHL this season. On Saturday night, Utica got waxed 6-2 by the Laval Rockets thanks largely to ex-Comets, including first star of the game Brandon Gignac, who scored twice and Nate Schnarr, who added a tally. Nolan Foote scored his 16th for the Comets and Graeme Clarke picked up his 20th assist. Nico Daws suffered the loss stopping only 35 of 41 and dropping his save percentage down to .897%, while his GAA creeps closer to the 3.00 line at 2.97. [TheAHL.Com]
  • Luke Hughes is scoring timely goals in his final collegiate season.
  • Guadana Hockey put out this video on Shakir Mukhamadullin’s action moments for some games this season for those who want a deeper look at his game. In his writeup on Twitter promoting the video, Guadana outlines the strengths and weaknesses that he sees in Big Shak’s game. It’s worth a look.

It was. Thank you!


Now is the time to tell us what you think. How does the recent Devils drafting compare to the final years of Lou? Will Brandon Baddock ever play another NHL game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Next week will be a little something different and then the prospect update will cycle back to Europe with a spotlight on Shakir Mukhamadullin.