New Jersey Devils – Offseason Prospect System Review

by Kelly on August 18, 2018

 

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Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top ten prospects in the system.

 

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Offseason Moves

If you were waiting for the Devils to bring in players this offseason, then you are still waiting. They aren’t, and seemingly won’t, be adding anything from outside their organization barring a trade. GM Ray Shero is taking this franchise down a new path of drafting and development, which saw several players leave and only a couple of minor depth pieces added. This makes the Devils one of the most exciting franchises to watch for prospects during camp next month, as the team will welcome three or four new faces to their lineup from within.

The list of players leaving included power winger Patrick Maroon, whom the Devils attempted to re-sign after acquiring him via trade during the 2017-2018 season. Also gone on the wing is veteran speedster and 5-on-5 goal scorer Michael Grabner. On defense, the Devils lost veteran John Moore, who’s reliable puck movement will have to be replaced. Additionally, depth forwards Brian Gibbons and Jimmy Hayes both left. Coming in was almost nothing outside of a KHL stay at home defenseman Egor Yakovlev, which means all the holes will have to be filled by players from within their own system.

 

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Graduating Players

Blake Coleman– Coleman was an older rookie to begin with, but now after a pretty solid rookie season is a permanent fixture going forward. He is and will be highly sought after in fantasy leagues with hits and PIM.

Mirco Mueller– It is time for Mueller to figure out if he will be an NHL regular or no more than a 7th defenseman. At age 23 and with the loss of John Moore, the door is wide open for either Mueller or Steven Santini and take that roster spot, but both will have to fend off Yakovlev as well.

Steven Santini– Ditto for everything that was said about Mueller above. Santini brings an entirely different personality to his game than Mueller, as despite his poor analytics, he is a hit and shot blocking machine when given the chance.

 

Risers

Joey Anderson– The Devils love this kid and it sounds like they will give him every opportunity in September to make the team straight out of college. He is a bit of a do it all forward and in his prospect camps since being drafted in 2016 he has shown not only the potential to contribute, but the ability to play alongside top line players. He is a leader as his captaincy of the US World Junior Team showed last winter, he forechecks hard, is dependable, and has high shot rates. He could end up being very comparable to left winger Miles Wood, except for on the right side of the ice for the Devils.

Ty Smith– Seems silly to put a team’s first round pick as a riser, but Smith was thought to be a potential top 10 pick and fell to pick 17. Many were curious as to why he slipped as far as he did but his recent development camp showed that instead of there being a flaw, those teams that passed on Smith might be kicking themselves soon rather than later. From all accounts, he was the star of the camp.

Aarne Talvitie– A 6th round pick in 2017, Talvitie is having one heck of a draft plus one year. To keep his NCAA eligibility for his Penn State commitment, he stayed in Finland’s junior league and tore it to shreds. He has also found himself as part of Finland’s U20 plans and has been playing and scoring on the top line in various tournaments this summer with the likes of 2018 first round centers Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Rasmus Kupari. His quality play for Finland came on the heels of a great development camp earlier this summer.

Reilly Walsh– A good freshman year at Harvard got Walsh a look this summer on the US team for the Summer Showcase and he did well, giving him an outside shot at making the World Junior team in January.

 

Fallers

Mackenzie Blackwood– After a decent first professional season in 2016-17 in the AHL with a .907 save percentage in 36 games, Blackwood regressed to an .882 save percentage in 32 games resulting in some time in the ECHL. The Devils did not want to see regression out of their top goalie prospect, so everyone in the organization will be hoping for a bounce back 2018-19 season.

 

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Prospect Depth Chart

Center

Michael McLeod (NHL/AHL)

John Quenneville (AHL/NHL)

Blake Speers (AHL)

Jesper Boqvist (SHL)

Aarne Talvitie (NCAA)

Brandon Gignac (AHL)

 

Left Wing

Brett Seney (AHL)

Mikhail Maltsev (KHL/VHL)

Nikita Popugayev (KHL)

Eetu Pakkila (Jr. A SM-liiga)

 

Right Wing

Joey Anderson (NHL/AHL)

Fabian Zetterlund (SHL)

Nathan Bastian (AHL)

Marian Studenic (AHL)

 

Defensemen

Ty Smith (WHL)

Reilly Walsh (NCAA)

Colby Sissons (AHL)

Colton White (AHL)

Jeremy Davies (NCAA)

Jockton Chainey (QMJHL)

Yegor Zaitsev (KHL)

Xavier Bernard (QMJHL)

 

Goalie

Mackenzie Blackwood (AHL/ECHL)

Gilles Senn (NLA)

Akira Schmid (WHL)

 

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Top Ten Prospects

  1. Michael McLeod– Devils fans have been waiting on their 2016 first rounder and he could make the team out of camp.
  2. Ty Smith– He turned heads at development camp and might be the steal of the 2018 first round.
  3. Joey Anderson– All-around player and leader with a high hockey IQ and could find himself with some nice future deployment.
  4. John Quenneville– By all reports has taken it upon himself to get into shape and turn his AHL success into an NHL roster spot.
  5. Jesper Boqvist– Highly skilled forward who the Devils are high on. Might have to wait another year or two, but could be worth it.
  6. Brett Seney– After four successful years at Merrimack College, Seney exploded onto the scene in the AHL with 8 points in 12 games. If that production continues he could see some NHL time as early as this year.
  7. Aarne Talvitie– Having a great year and looks like another gem uncovered by the Devils scouting staff. Likely already booked his place in the 2018-19 World Juniors with Finland and Penn State could have themselves a really good player.
  8. Reilly Walsh– A good freshman year at Harvard has brought more attention and opportunity.
  9. Blake Speers– A player the Devils are pretty high on despite lower than expected production in his first full professional season in the AHL last year.
  10. Fabian Zetterlund– Getting a lot of time with the Swedish U20 team over the past year, but needs to show more production and progress in the Swedish professional ranks.

 

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Kelly Bowler