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The 2023 AATJ Top 25 Devils Under 25: The 17 Outsiders from #42 to #26

As the offseason begins to close, it is time to reveal the the results of the 2023 All About the Jersey Top 25 New Jersey Devils players Under 25 list as decided by the writers and the community. The reveal begins with the Outsiders, the 17 players who did not make the Top 25.

United States v Czechia: Quarterfinals - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship
Petr Hauser just missed the cut this year, a big rise from his initial ranking of 36th place in 2022.
Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images

Earlier this month, James asked you and I asked the staff to answer one simple question: Who are the best young players in the New Jersey Devils organization? The votes came in. They have been tallied. We have a new list of players for the 2023 All About the Jersey Top 25 New Jersey Devils players under 25 years old. Also known as the Top 25 Devils Under 25.

This is an intentionally open-ended question. Some will favor potential over all else. Some will lean towards guys who have made it and rank them ahead of future players. Some will favor some positions and roles over others. Some will do some combination of the three or something entirely different. The point is that there is no one true way to do this. There will always be debate, discussion, and discord about who is the best. Still, it is a good way to get a sense of how the young players in New Jersey’s system are seen among the People Who Matter.

As with past years. we took votes among the staff and asked you, the People Who Matter, to participate in our community survey. A weighted average of all votes determined the order of all under-25 players in the system as of August 1, 2023. This means Cal Foote did not qualify as he was signed on August 9. Any ties will be broken by whoever had the higher ranking by the community survey. There was only one tie this year and it is a pretty big one. You will find out that in a few weeks though. This post goes over those who did not make the Top 25 this year.

Yes, this post will go over the Outsiders. The 17 players who finished 42nd through 26th place in this year’s rank. This year’s list is smaller than past years due to a number of trades (e.g. the Timo Meier trade), players aging out of the list (e.g. Jesper Bratt), and other organizational decisions (e.g. Jesper Boqvist not being qualified). Regardless, the Devils have 42 players in the organization under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2023 that are or will be younger than 25 as of September 15, 2023. Not every one can make the Top 25. Perhaps they had a difficult 2022-23 and/or shown to not show much for the future. Some play a role that does not pop so easily at a surface level. Others have been and are still seen as long shots. Does this mean this group of 17 cannot make it? Absolutely not. There have been multiple players who were once ranked rather low and charged their way up the rankings as they improved and played more in the system. There have even been a handful players to go on and at least see the NHL despite never being ranked in the Top 25.

Now let’s get to the list. In reverse order, these are the Outsiders of the 2023 All About the Jersey Top 25 New Jersey Devils players Under 25 List from 42nd to 26th. As always, you are free to disagree (or agree) with the rankings and discuss their position in the comments.

#42 - Jaromír Pytlík - Center - Age: 21 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Rytíři Kladno (Czechia) - 2022 Rank: 47 - Elite Prospects (EP) Profile

Someone has to come in last on a list and this year’s last place finisher is Jaromír Pytlík. The 99th overall selection of the 2020 NHL Draft was thought to have an all-around game when he played for Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL. His one full season with the Greyhounds saw him put up 22 goals and 50 points in 56 games plus he appeared for Czechia at the WJCs as an underage player. Seemed like a fine get in the fourth round. Since then, it has been a trip down obscurity for Pytlík. The global pandemic saw him loaned to a Czechia second league team in 2020-21 that lasted all of four games combined with national team duty. A transfer to KalPa in Liiga in 2021-22 provided a change of scenary but he failed to stick in the Liiga with five games. A loan to IPK in Mestis saw him put up a few points (5) in 12 games. But he transferred once more to Jaromir Jagr’s team, Rytíři Kladno. There, he at least got into 30 games and was on the team that fought successfully to avoid regulation. But the production remained meager. It continued into last season where he put up two goals and three points in 33 games with Kladno. He was even loaned to a second tier team for a couple of games. It has been a precipitous drop since going professional full time after his draft year.

He’s set to return to Kladno for the final season on his contract. But with such little production and playing in a limited role in Czechia, there is little reason to think the soon-to-be-22 year old will “figure it out” are rise up in European hockey. Much less in North American hockey. The People Who Matter have seen his career play out and his ranking has dropped accordingly. It only increased for 2023 because there are 42 people in this year’s list.

#41 - Artem Barabosha - Right-shooting Defenseman - Age: 19 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL) - 2022 Rank: 46 - EP Profile

Barabosha was the last pick in the 2022 draft for the Devils. He has good size at 6’2” and is just shy of 200 pounds. He is a right-handed shot. He also stayed with Krasnaya Armiya Moskava (a.k.a Red Army Moscow) of the MHL - the MHL affiliate for CSKA Moscow - for another season and, at a glance, it does not look like he did much more. While never thought to be an offensive machine, he fell from 4 goals to 1 and 11 points to 5 from 2021-22 to 2022-23. The team had a deep playoff run in 2022 but was bounced in 4 games in 2023 where Barabosha was pointless. Further, his PIM count tripled from 16 to 49 season-over-season, which is not a positive sign either. The MHL is not that strong of a U-20 league. While being kept there on its own is not a bad thing for development, it is an uneven league in terms of quality and so if he is not playing a lot at this level, it is a concern as to what his future holds when he gets older. His role on the team only saw him increase his average ice time about 90 extra seconds and he finished fifth on the team among defensemen in terms of average ice time. An improvement in terms of usage, but not a big one. Per EP, he’s set to return to Krasnaya Armiya for another season; the last on his current contract. Barabosha really needs to shine to show whether he really has a future in hockey beyond the KHL - if that.

#40 - Shane Bowers - Center - Age: 24 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Utica Comets (AHL) - 2022 Rank: N/A - EP Profile

In an unusual circumstance, an actual former NHL player comes in at 40th on the list. OK, Shane Bowers has played just one game in the NHL, an appearance with Colorado last season on an as-needed basis. Bowers came to the Devils in a trade with Reilly Walsh, which addressed a need at center in the system at the time. Then the Devils proceeded to give NHL contracts to Kyle Criscuolo and Justin Dowling, sign Chris Tierney, and later Tomas Nosek in this Summer. All four of those players are centers and while Nosek is set for New Jersey, the other three are likely Utica-bound. As is Bowers since the majority of his pro career has been in the AHL. On paper, Bowers has been pushed down the depth chart by these other moves.

Bowers was a 28th overall pick in 2017 by Ottawa, traded to Colorado as part of the Matt Duchene trade, signed his ELC after two years at Boston University, and has been a staple with the Eagles since then. He has never been all that productive or healthy enough to play regularly with the Eagles. A trade to Boston for Keith Kinkaid led him to join the Providence Bruins back in February. With the Walsh trade, he is now in New Jersey’s system. Bowers has never been all that productive in the AHL, he is nearly 25, and the Devils’ other signings effectively pushed Bowers down on the center depth chart. Those factors are big reasons why his one and only appearance on the Top 25 Devils Under 25 list is at 40th. Perhaps he will surprise and at least take a larger role with the Comets than expected. He will have to earn it among some fierce competition the team added over the last six to seven weeks.

#39 - Viktor Hurtig - Right-shooting Defenseman - Age: 21 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Michigan State (Big Ten - NCAA) - 2022 Rank: 45 - EP Profile

Hurtig made a big switch in 2022-23 to come to North America and play for the Michigan State Spartans. He was previously with Vaxjo and Mora IK’s U-20 teams in Sweden in 2021-22. Given that he played in four games with Vasteras IK in the Allsvenskan in 2020-21, he was actually suspended by the NCAA for four games as that was pro hockey. But he was given the green light to play for the green-clad Spartans - who were willing to wait out the four games - and jumped right into the lineup. He definitely had to acclimate as he was an extra skater initially before playing regularly on the blueline. He would get his first NCAA goal and put up 5 points in 34 appearances. He is large, he is imposing, and the hope is that he will grow into a larger role with the Spartans as a sophomore. He will likely continue to be rated low as defensive defensemen do not necessarily impress unless they really shine. Still, he got through a transitional 2022-23. The next couple of seasons will really show where his future in hockey lies.

#38 - Patrick Moynihan - Center - Age: 22 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Notre Dame (Big Ten - NCAA) - 2022 Rank: 31 - EP Profile

Patrick Moynihan fell quite a bit in this year’s list as he dropped down to 38th. He was a bottom-six player on a super-stacked USNTDP program in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Yes, he played with Jack Hughes (and Matt Boldy and Cole Caulfield and Trevor Zegras and Cam York and Spencer Knight, etc.). It was thought that his skill would flourish if he played on a team that would give him a larger role. He had the opportunity to do so at Providence College and a very fine 13-goal, 21-point freshman campaign backed that up. However, that did not get much better. 2020-21 was cut short due to a global pandemic with just 17 games played. 15 points in 17 games is very good but it is still not a lot on its own. He at least appeared for the United States at the 2021 WJCs. His junior year in 2021-22 saw him return to double-digit goals and 25 points, but still finished well behind Brett Berard and Nick Poisson as team leaders in scoring. Last season was a real struggle for Moynihan. Instead of being one of the top scorers as a 22 year old senior, he put up just seven goals and ten points in 34 games. He did not even finish in the top-ten on his own team in scoring. He also saw his penalty minutes balloon to 41 - keep in mind he had just eight as a freshman. Moynihan really fell off. Due to the pandemic, he has another year of eligibility and so he has transferred to Notre Dame for 2023-24. As a fifth-year collegiate, Moynihan has to have a much better season; more productive and be more of a leader on the squad. Otherwise, there is a real chance that this is his last Top 25 Devils Under 25 ranking as he could not be signed after 2024.

#37 - Case McCarthy - Right-shooting Defenseman - Age: 22 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Boston University (Hockey East - NCAA) - 2022 Rank: 37 - EP Profile

Case McCarthy is another USNTDP product that has been in the college system for quite a bit. Like Moynihan, McCarthy is using his additional year of eligibility to stay in college for 2023-24. Unlike Moynihan, McCarthy is sticking with Boston University. In fact, he was named captain of the 2023-24 team back in May by head coach Jay Pandolfo. A logical decision given his experience and past leadership roles. Also a decision of trust given he suffered a season ending injury after 35 games and setting a college career high of 15 points. McCarthy’s whole game has been about defense and far less about producing or contributing to the offense. Something that will likely be carried by Dominick Fensore and Lane Hutson for BU next season anyway. That is also why McCarthy has never been ranked all that high and continues to remain at 37th for a second straight year. The lack of production plus the reality that being a one-dimensional player is often a hindrance for a developing player will hurt perception of any prospect. It is an open question as to whether McCarthy will be signed after this fifth year at BU. At the very least, he will be (is?) regarded well as a Terrier.

#36 - Chase Cheslock - Right-shooting Defenseman - Age: 18 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Omaha (USHL) - 2022 Rank: N/A - EP Profile

The first 2023 drafted player on this year’s list is defenseman Chase Cheslock. Cheslock was very well traveled in his draft season. He played for Rogers High in Minnesota’s high school system, played in 18 games with the St. Cloud Norsemen of the NAHL, got into 15 games with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, and even made a spot appearance for the USNTDP. He is large at 6’3” and 205 pounds, he was touted for how he stopped plays on defense, and he moves well. He was productive in high school, less so in junior hockey but it is not clear how much he played or what role he played in the NAHL and USHL beyond the number of appearances last season.

Cheslock is very much a project of a prospect. It will take a while and plenty of work to see how much of his perceived potential will be filled over time. His path for the next two seasons is known. He will go to the University of St. Thomas in 2024-25, a school that recently made the jump to D-I hockey and joined the CCHA. Before then Cheslock will play for the Omaha Lancers for a full season in 2023-24. A full season in the USHL will provide more of a challenge and an opportunity to grow than his multiple stops last season. He is more or less a question mark for now. His initial ranking reflects that, which is common for mid to late round picks of a recent NHL Draft.

#35 - Charlie Leddy - Right-shooting Defenseman - Age: 19 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Boston College (Hockey East - NCAA) - 2022 Rank: 42 - EP Profile

The fourth round selection from the 2022 draft moved up from 42nd to 35th after his freshman year at Boston College. Leddy is a USNTDP product known for his defensive skillset (literally no goals in 2021-22 with the USNTDP, just tow in 2020-21) so expecting a lot of points would be expecting a lot. As such, he put up two goals and seven points in 35 games with the Eagles. However, he remained in the lineup as a regular on what was a younger team with a first-time head coach. That counts for something. Also helping his perception was that he was part of USA Hockey’s World Junior Summer Showcase that concluded earlier this month. It is a set of exhibition games where players are looked at as potential options for the WJCs in the Winter. Leddy joined Seamus Casey as the only Devils prospects at the camp. While it is far from a guarantee, there is a chance Leddy goes to the WJCs in December - which will speak to how his game is developing as a defensive player. There is a future here and it could grow provided Leddy does more as a sophomore Eagle and if he does make that WJC roster for America. His rise in the rankings suggests that this is not only my opinion about Leddy.

#34 - Cole Brown - Left Winger - Age: 18 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Hamilton (OHL) - 2022 Rank: N/A - EP Profile

Cole Brown was selected in the sixth round of the 2023 draft. When picked, his size and tenacity were highlighted. Less so about his skill as his shot and passing skills have not been that impressive at the OHL level. The upside is more for the bottom six of a NHL lineup, which is something to strive for. The key will be in this and next season of the OHL. Brown will be entering his third season in the OHL. After 9 goals and 21 points in 49 games as a rookie, he improved to 17 games and 42 points in 60 games in his draft year. The hope is that he will build upon that and at least be more productive. The production is less a marker of whether or not a player is a scorer and more of a sign that what they are doing at their level is successful. That their work is leading to results for the team, even if it may not translate in pro hockey. Whether Brown accomplishes that will not only help his perception but his reality of a future in pro hockey. It is common for later picks to end up low on the Top 25 Devils Under 25 list. As with Cheslock this year and multiple examples in the past, this could change quite a bit over time. And quickly depending on what happens in 2023-24.

#33 - Brian Halonen - Left Winger - Age: 24 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Utica Comets (AHL) - 2022 Rank: 34 - EP Profile

Brian Halonen is the first Comet on this year’s list. He was an undrafted free agent signed player out of Michigan Tech, where he absolutely had a glow up of a senior season with 21 goals and 44 points in 37 games. He joined Utica after MT’s season ended, got into 12 regular season games and 2 playoff games. Halonen definitely fit in more with the pro game in 2022-23. He got into 57 season games with the Comets last season, six playoff games, and played in their top six at times as a winger. At least, he did in the postseason. That said, he did put up 17 goals and 30 points with 95 shots last season. Definitely an improvement over his first taste of AHL hockey, but far from suggesting he could play in the NHL. Halonen finished tied with Andreas Johnsson - who was traded during the season in the Meier trade - for eighth on the team in scoring. It is possible that Halonen improves further to take more shots, create more offense, and finish a few more of those plays in 2023-24. Yet, it is likely that this would be the furthest he would go. He is 24 and is expected to be behind several other wingers in the system. Still, being a solid AHL hand is a fine career should Halonen want it after his ELC ends after this season. Regardless, he will end his short time on the Top 25 Devils Under 25 at 33rd place.

#32 - Cole Brady - Goaltender - Age: 22 - Likely 2023-24 Team: University of Massachusetts (Hockey East - NCAA) - 2021 Rank: 38 - EP Profile

Goaltender Cole Brady was a fifth round selection from the 2019 draft out of the NAHL. His career has been all over the place. He spent 2019-20 with the Fargo Force of the USHL. Brady was enrolled with Arizona State for 2020, so he opted to play junior hockey in the ‘U’ beforehand. A good move given that the USHL is a better league than the NAHL. However, he posted an overall save percentage of 90.3% in 39 games with the Force. Perhaps a sign of the USHL being a better league. Brady joined the Sun Devils for 2020-21 albeit in a pandemic-shortened season where he got into 13 games and posted a 91% save percentage. He essentially split time with Evan DeBrouwer and Brady had the better save percentage. In a more full 2021-22 season, Brady was kept to being the #2 goalie behind Ben Kraws. With a 90% save percentage over 12 appearances compared with Kraws’ 90.7% over 27 appearances, I can understand the decision. Goalies need minutes in order to develop so he sought out a new school to play at for 2022-23. He ended up moving to UMass (Amherst, not Lowell) in Hockey East. Once again, Brady ended up as the #2 goalie. While his own overall save percentage improved to 90.7%, he got into just 12 games. Justified by Luke Pavicich putting up a 92% overall save percentage in 23 games. Brady remains at UMass for another season along with Pavicich.

I am surprised Brady rose up in the rankings for this year even with the smaller pool of U-25 players to pick. I rated him low, but goaltenders are an odd sort to figure out. Success at one level does not always lead to success at the next level and getting minutes is even more crucial than necessarily being great. Brady really has not done either at the college level yet. Maybe it happens soon to help justify this ranking and perhaps a higher one in 2024.

#31 - Daniil Karpovich - Left-shooting Defenseman - Age: 18 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Neman Grodno (Belarus) - 2022 Rank: N/A - EP Profile

The last pick of the 2023 draft class for the Devils was one of the more intriguing ones. The People Who Matter loved this pick much, much, much more than criticizing it. Daniil Karpovich is large at 6’3” and 209 pounds, he put up loads of points with Avto Yekaterinburg in the MHL with 10 goals and 35 points in 47 games for the fourth most in the entire MHL, and played a lot on his team. He would be a finalist for MHL rookie of the year, which is a honor and an accomplishment. He was also out of contract when he was drafted, which made me wonder if the Devils would sign him soon. They will not as Karpovich signed with Neman Grodno of the Belarussian Extraleague for a season earlier this month. (Aside: This is the Belarus Hockey story Ryan Novozinsky was referring to.) On the one hand, Belarussian league is not that strong. On the other hand, it is a professional league with adults and that may be more competitive than playing in the MHL for another season. It is just a one season contract, and we can at least see how he carries on playing at a higher level albeit in a smaller league. Perhaps then the Devils would be more interested in locking up Karpovich. That he came in at 31st in his Top 25 Devils Under 25 debut matches the enthusiasm over his late selection in the 2023 NHL Draft. We shall see if that is matched by the organization after a season with Neman Grodno.

#30 - Santeri Hatakka - Left-shooting Defenseman - Age: 23 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Utica Comets (AHL) - 2022 Rank: N/A - EP Profile

Like Bowers, Hatakka enters the list as an outsider with NHL games played. Unlike Bowers, Hatakka has played in 9 games in the NHL back in 2021-22 with San Jose and was regular performer for the AHL-affiliated Barracuda otherwise. Prior to that, Hatakka was a developing defenseman out of Finland. He was drafted out of Jokerit’s system and played for Finland’s U-18 team in 2019. In 2019-20, he transferred to Ilves and played either in the Liiga or the second tier Mestis with a loan to KOOVEE. All while representing Finland at the U-20 level including the WJCs. In 2020-21, he played a full season with Ilves and was an assistant captain for Finland at the 2021 WJCs, which took the bronze medal. He made the jump to North American hockey right then and there and had at least a decent transfer. The issue was that last season was a lost one for Hatakka. He suffered a significant injury such that he only played 8 games for the San Jose Barracuda last season. The rest has been spent in recovery. Forget a New Jersey debut, he has yet to make a Comets debut since being traded as part of the Timo Meier deal. Hatakka is a defensive defenseman and he will have to earn his minutes in Utica with the arrivals of Daniil Misyul and Topias Vilén. Not to mention the more recent signing of Cal Foote, even if he plays on the other side. I wrote before that this season is a crucial one as his ELC is expiring. Coming at 30th on this year’s list represents a wait-and-see approach from the People Who Matter. An understandable decision since it is not clear how he will play after the injuries and how he will earn his spot in the organization. I will say that his performances in camp will be one to keep an eye on given that he has earned a taste of the NHL already.

#29 - Daniil Orlov - Left-shooting Defenseman - Age: 19 - Likely 2023-24 Team: MHK Krylia Sovetov Moskva (MHL) - 2022 Rank: 32 - EP Profile

Daniil Orlov moved up a few spots in this year’s list. As he should since he moved up in 2022-23. With MHK Krylia Sovevtov Moskva, Orlov averaged over 20 minutes per game in the season and over 21 minutes per game in the playoffs. More importantly than that, Orlov was given call-ups. He made his KHL debut with Spartak Moscow, appeared in 14 games, and registered his first and second KHL points. He also appeared in the VHL for seven games with Khimik Voskresensk where he put up five assists in their season and appeared in nine playoff games as they won their championship. Even if Orlov did not receive a lot of ice time at the KHL (11:47 per game) and VHL levels, being given these chances to play at higher levels at age 19 shows how much he is developing in the eyes of his organization. It is going to be quite some time before the Devils can even get Orlov in their system. Per his EP profile, he is signed through 2025-26. It is a reasonable question as to whether he could want to make the jump to the NHL then should Spartak or another team want to keep him. But he is on a path to potentially doing so based on his strong draft+1 season. It could even be argued that 29th is a bit low for Orlov. Should he do more with the main Spartak team, it will go up in future ranks.

#28 - Zakhar Bardakov - Center - Age: 22 - Likely 2023-24 Team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) - 2022 Rank: 49 - EP Profile

Zakhar Bardakov was described as a “menace” by Steve Kournianos in a draft profile of the player. I do not know if that still holds since he had just the 45 PIM in 42 games with SKA St. Petersburg last season. Yet, Bardakov has established himself as a regular forward on the KHL’s biggest team. He averaged 15:28 per game last season. He also put up six goals and 18 points, and took 68 shots. He even took 606 faceoffs, winning 294 of them. This is a massive improvement over a 2021-22 season where he got into only 19 games with SKA and put up just three points. While Bardakov’s production dropped in the postseason in 2023, his ice time actually increased to 16:57 per game. If I am reading the ice time averages right, he has been a frequent penalty killer for SKA with an average of nearly 2 minutes of shorthanded ice time per game in the playoffs and 2:40 per game in the season. It was a very good season of growth for the seventh round selection from the 2021 draft. The question remains: Would he want to come to the Devils when his contract ends? If there is a KHL team with the resources to convince anyone to stick/play with them, it’s SKA. Just ask Arseni Gritsyuk. We will find out how Bardakov sees it when his current contract ends after this season. Nevertheless, Bardakov made a huge jump in this year’s rankings to go along with his huge jump at SKA this season. It is entirely deserved in my view.

#27 - Artem Shlaine - Center - Age: 21 - Likely 2023-24 Team: Northern Michigan University (CCHA - NCAA) - 2022 Rank: 43 - EP Profile

Another player who rose up quite a bit outside of the Top 25 is Artem Shaline. He was drafted out of Shattuck’s St. Mary’s in 2020 with just six games played with Muskegon in the USHL. He has been touted for his skill on the puck but also seen as a project to figure out the other parts of his game. Shlaine was going through the college route, first with University of Connecticut for two seasons. However, Shlaine clearly wanted a change and decided to transfer in his junior year to Northern Michigan. Your mileage may vary about the quality of the college hockey there compared with a young program like UConn. Still, the move to the Wildcats worked out for Shlaine. Not only did Shlaine play prime minutes but his production nearly doubled as a junior. He finished last season with 11 goals and 32 points - tied for second most on the team. There will still be questions about whether his game will translate to the next level. But Shlaine has put himself in a position to have a next level to play in if he can keep up this pace of production as a senior. If he does that and if the Devils’ system remains light on centers, then Shlaine may be a safe bet to get an ELC after 2023-24. Even so, Shlaine’s productive season was rewarded by the People Who Matter as he shot up the rankings to just two spots outside of the Top 25. Keep going, young Artem.

#26 - Petr Hauser - Right Winger - Age: 19 - Likely 2023-24 Team: HC Sparta Praha (Czechia) - 2022 Rank: 36 - EP Profile

This years player to just miss out on the Top 25 - and not by much - is Petr Hauser of Sparta Praha. The fifth round pick in 2022 had himself a very busy draft+1 season and the People Who Matter boosted his rank in the same vein as Bardakov and Shlaine. Hauser was drafted out of the U-20 team of Sparta Praha where he absolutely crushed it on the scoresheet with 25 goals and 59 points in 41 games. He got a taste of the pro game with a 15 game loan with HC Stadion Litoměřice in the Czechia second tier as well as international play with the U-20 Czech team.

What do you follow up that with? How about more pro hockey and more national team play? Hauser made his senior team debut with Sparta Praha in the Czechia Extraliga for eight games in their season as well as three Champions League games. While he was held pointless, he blossomed elsewhere. He was loaned to another second tier team in HC Baník Sokolov and Hauser made more of an impact in his second appearance in the second tier of Czech hockey. He put up six goals and 19 points in 35 games to finish fifth on the team in scoring for that season. As Hauser is 19, he was still eligible for U-20 play. He was kept to 14 season games with Sparta Praha’s U-20 team where he, of course, crushed it with nine goals and 22 points. He also played in their playoffs where he put up ten goals and 29 points in 19 playoff games to lead the entire U-20 Czechia postseason. Of course, Hauser was not done there. He represented his country once more at the U-20 level and put up three goals and an assist in 7 games for a Silver Medal winning Czech team at the WJCs. Hauser clearly showed growth as a player in 2022-23 with the increased production at the Czech second tier, contributing on at successful WJC tourney (and second straight one for Hauser), getting a taste of the first tier of Czech hockey, and demonstrating he is just dominant among his peers at the U-20 league level.

He’s signed for another year with HC Sparta Praha and I would think he has a shot of sticking more with the main team based on his path. If he does and contributes there, then that should be a great sign for his future in hockey. It would give the People Who Matter even more reason to think the Devils found another late round gem. And it could very well lead to a contract from New Jersey. This coming season is an important year for Hauser, but he is definitely trending upward. You like to see it.

The Rankings

In the interest of disclosure, here is how everyone ranked the players who are in this post. Consistent with past surveys, the Community is a compilation of all 196 responses that were scored and organized by final rank by the People Who Matter - just like you.

The 2023 AAtJ Top 25 Devils Under 25 Rankings - Outsiders (42-26)
The 2023 AAtJ Top 25 Devils Under 25 Rankings - Outsiders (42-26)
The AAtJ Writers & The People Who Matter

It is worth noting that everyone had a few players that ended up being outsiders in their Top 25. The community felt Artem Shlaine would just get in with Santeri Hatakka and Petr Hauser missing out. Personally, I thought Shlaine, Hatakka, and Karpovich were Top 25-worthy with Charlie Leddy and Viktor Hurtig missing out. You can pick and choose others from the other writers. It is what it is in this exercise in perception of the Devils’ younger players.

I will say in defense of myself, the other writers, and the community vote that the final results were really tight between Orlov, Bardakov, Shlaine, Hauser, the 25th player, and the 24th ranked player. If you wanted to argue that two of those four outsiders should have been in the Top 25, then you would have a good case. They really did not miss out by much. In fact, Hatakka and Karpovich were not too far off from joining that group either. This is not necessarily a bad thing. And it could be “corrected” in a year or two depending on how everyone’s 2023-24’s season goes.

I will also point out that there were some really close calls in this year’s final rankings. Barabosha edged out Pytlík for the last place spot. Case McCarthy just edged out Patrick Moynihan. Charlie Leddy just edged out Chase Cheslock. Cole Brady, Brian Halonen, and Cole Brown were all quite close to each other. If you wanted to flip flop those players’ positions, then you could do so and feel justified because the results nearly worked out that way. As a tease, you could do the same with the first two players in the next post and the following two players after them. The final results have no one above 25 until the 21st ranked player. And if Cal Foote, who is 24, was signed before we opened the polls, then he likely would have pushed one of these players out. Although that is just my opinion.

Your Take

To find out who those exactly were, you will have to wait a little bit. James will begin to reveal them on Tuesday. We will continue our traditional reverse order reveal of the Top 25 Devils Under 25 list and do so five players at a time. This means the next post will be 25th through 21st place.

Thank you for reading through the rankings of the 17 players who did not make the Top 25 Devils Under 25 this year. Once again, this does not mean that the player is doomed to obscurity or is not worth your time. It just means they have more to do to increase their perception by the People Who Matter. Thanks to Tyler, Jared, Alex, Elliott, Matt, Nate, Mike, Chris, Dan, the People Who Matter who voted in the Community survey, and especially to James for organizing this year’s effort for the Top 25 Devils Under 25.

Ahead of the next post in this year’s rankings, I would like you, the People Who Matter, to discuss the rankings and the 17 outsiders in this year’s list. Again, this is all an exercise in perception. Please be kind when discussing other people’s rankings. It is perfectly fine for people have differences of opinions about prospects. That said, please feel free to share your thoughts about any these 17 players, where they were ranked in the comments, and what you think they will do next season. Who was rated too high in your opinion and why? Who was rated too low in your view and why? Who on this list do you think will make the Top 25 next year? Thank you again for reading.