The 4th week of the 2020-21 New Jersey Devils prospect update is here! This week’s action featured Arseni Gritsyuk’s VHL season debut, Marian Studenic return to action after his team had positive COVID-19 tests a few weeks ago, Nick Merkley’s strong play in Finland continue, and Yegor Sharangovich remain one of the top goal scorers in the KHL. Let’s take a look at how the Devils prospects performed over the past week.
Dawson Mercer had no games to play in last week as the QMJHL postponed more games for the Quebec based teams due to the COVID-19 situation in the province. The league did announce that Chicoutimi is set to resume their season today against Rimouski so hopefully Mercer is back to playing.
Mercer is set to be a returning player for Canada at the upcoming WJC. He was officially invited to their camp which runs from 11/16 to 12/13 in Red Deer. The extended camp allows the team to quarantine in their own bubble and helps all the prospects get up to speed since only the QMJHL players have played some games. Scott Wheeler of The Athletic has his roster projections where he lists Mercer as one of Canada’s centers.
The OHL is aiming for a shortened season that starts on February 4. They are still working with Ontario officials to come up with a plan that will satisfy health experts. It will be interesting to see if any OHL prospects look into playing in other leagues since that’s a long time to go without playing in competitive games.
Graeme Clarke was invited to Canada’s WJC camp but it seems like he’s a longshot to make the roster.
Jaromir Pytlik will certainly be a key player for the Czech Republic at the upcoming WJC. He’s going to get some more international experience prior to that as he is one of the U20 players on the Czech roster for the Karjala Cup in Finland:
8 U20 players are on the Czech Republic roster for the Karjala Cup in Finland.
’01 G Lukas Parik (LAK)
’01 D Simon Kubicek
’01 C Michal Teply (CHI)
’01 RW Adam Raska (SJS)
’02 C Jaromir Pytlik (NJD)
’02 C Jan Mysak (MTL)
’03 D Stanislav Svozil (2021)
’03 D David Jiricek (2022) https://t.co/xwQK47sEO8
— Czech Prospects (@CZprospects) October 29, 2020
The Big 10 is planning to start their season on November 13 and Arizona State is expected to join them by playing each Big 10 team multiple times. This affects Matt Hellickson (Notre Dame), Aarne Talvitie (Penn State), and Cole Brady (Arizona State). Hockey East is hoping to start on November 20. That affects Tyce Thompson and Patrick Moynihan (Providence), Case McCarthy (Boston University), and Artem Shlaine (UConn).
Patrick Moynihan and Case McCarthy are both on Scott Wheeler’s roster projection to make the USA team at the upcoming WJC.
Ethan Edwards had a PP assist, +3, 4 PIM, and 2 shots across Sioux City’s final 2 pre-season games last week. He finished the pre-season with 2 assists, +2, 4 PIM, and 3 shots in 5 games.
Akira Schmid didn’t play at all for Sioux City in the pre-season. I haven’t found any information on him and this completely slipped my mind, but perhaps he’s still back in Switzerland. If that is the case, then I’m surprised he hasn’t been loaned out anywhere. Sioux City begins their regular season on 11/7.
VHL & MHL
Yegor Zaitsev had an even rating and 3 shots while averaging 16:41 per game across 3 KHL games last week.
Daniil Misyul had an assist, even rating, and 2 PIM while averaging 7:50 across 3 KHL games last week.
Arseni Gritsyuk made his 2020-21 season debut in Russia’s 2nd tier, the VHL. In 2 games last week he had an assist, even rating, and 4 shots while averaging 14:04 per game. I’m happy to see him getting this pro experience since he’s not quite ready for the KHL but isn’t challenged enough in juniors (MHL). I think this level will be very beneficial to his development and I hope he gets to spend some time at this level. Scott Wheeler had him projected to be an extra forward for Russia in that piece on the upcoming WJC over at The Athletic.
Nikita Popugayev played just 5 shifts for 2:48 in his only VHL game last Tuesday.
Shakir Mukhamadullin was a +1 with 2 PIM and a shot while averaging 13:18 across 2 KHL games last week. Scott Wheeler projects him to be on Russia’s roster for the upcoming WJC in that piece over at The Athletic.
Yegor Sharangovich has continued to take full advantage of his loan move to Dinamo Minsk in the KHL. Be sure to check out Devin’s post on why Sharangovich is a prospect to watch. Last week, Sharangovich had 2 goals, an even rating, 7 shots, and won 38.46% of his faceoffs while averaging 20:57 across 3 KHL games. He’s currently tied for 5th in goals in the KHL. Check out some of his recent goals below:
Mikhail Maltsev hasn’t played for SKA since 10/7. I reached out to @RUSProspects on twitter who is always on top of everything when it comes to Russian prospects and this is what he had to say about the situation:
seeing that he is listed as having a one-way KHL contract I have an impression that he wasn’t interested to go to the VHL, but on the SKA KHL roster there’s just no place for him, as they’re stacked (especially at C).
— Russian Prospects (@RUSProspects) November 1, 2020
Of course, I wish Maltsev was in a situation where he was playing games. However, at least he’s practicing with a top KHL team which will help him stay sharp and fresh until it’s time to report to New Jersey’s camp. Perhaps he does get some more KHL game should SKA have another injury crisis like earlier in the season.
Eetu Pakkila had an even rating in 12:03 of ice time in Ilves 6-2 victory over JYP on Tuesday. He didn’t play in either of their games on the weekend and I haven’t found a reason yet. Ilves returns to action on 11/13.
Nick Merkley had 2 goals, -3, 4 PIM, and 12 shots while averaging 15:05 across 3 games last week. He has really settled in after opening his Liiga career with no points in 4 games. He now has 4 goals and 5 assists over his last 8 games. You can see a pair of his goals below:
Good morning, Devils fans.
| NICK |
| MERKLEY |
| HAS 4 G |
| & 5 A |
| IN 12 GP |
| WITH |
| ÄSSÄT |
/ づ pic.twitter.com/pGzLUHgOIe
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 2, 2020
Janne Kuokkanen had an even rating and 7 shots while averaging 15:59 per game across 3 games last week.
SHL & Allsvenskan
Nikola Pasic had no games this past week as Linkoping HC has continued to be have their season paused since their 10/17 game due to positive COVID-19 tests. It does appear that the team is back in training according to the team site. Their next game is scheduled for 11/10.
Alexander Holtz had no games this past week as Djurgarden has also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. His last game was on 10/20 and they are set to resume their season on 11/10. As expected, Holtz was in Scott Wheeler’s roster projection for Sweden at the upcoming WJC.
Jesper Boqvist had an even rating and 6 shots while averaging 16:43 across 2 games last week. Uffe Bodin, writing for the NHL’s Swedish site, has this article on Boqvist which talks about his return to Timra IK and his first season with New Jersey. Here is a google translation of Boqvist talking about his season with New Jersey:
In terms of hockey, maybe it was not exactly what I wanted. I did not perform as I wanted, and it is clear that it was tough. It is the best league you play in and the best players you meet. It was very new, but I learned a lot about how it works around and it will probably be easier to go back and not worry so much about what is happening. I’m terribly charged with going back.
Fabian Zetterlund had a PP goal, 2 assists (1 EV, 1 PP), +1, 4 PIM, and 4 shots while averaging 17:52 across 3 games last week.
Switzerland & Slovakia
Benjamin Baumgartner had an even rating and won 7/10 faceoffs in 16:02 of ice time in HC Davos 6-3 loss to ZSC Lions on Friday. Their schedule hasn’t been that demanding to start the season and their next game is on 11/10 against SC Bern.
Marian Studenic and HC Slovan Bratislava resumed their season on Sunday after having to pause it since 10/11 after the team had numerous positive tests for COVID-19. Studenic was a +1 with 2 PIM and 4 shots in 15:12 of ice time in Slovan’s 3-0 victory.
Which prospects stood out to you this week? What do you think of the seasons that Merkley and Sharangovich are having so far? Which Devils prospects do you expect to make an impact at the WJC? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!