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Quick Hits from the New Jersey Devils Prospect Challenge

The New Jersey Devils took part in what has become their annual Prospect Challenge in Buffalo this week. A handful of teams took part in the event hosted by the Sabres, but the Devils only played three of them. They opened up on Friday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators, followed by a Saturday night matchup against the hosts, and finished up Monday morning against the Boston Bruins. Their matchups against Ottawa and Buffalo saw them lose 5-2 and 4-2 but bounced back with a 4-2 win against Boston.

In recent years the Devils have had an envious amount of top prospects to bring to the event, but this year only 2022 second-overall pick Simon Nemec headlined the group of players. With a lack of elite prospects this year the storylines were not as intriguing, but there were a few takeaways from this year’s Prospect Challenge.

Quick Hits from the New Jersey Devils Prospect Challenge

Top Players Showed Up

Nemec was easily the biggest name representing the Devils this weekend, but prospects Graeme Clarke and Josh Filmon were two others that garnered attention. That trio of players were all standouts over the weekend. Nemec showed off his playmaking with a couple of nifty assists. He also displayed a ton of composure during games where structure wasn’t at the forefront. It very clearly looked like an NHLer playing amongst young AHLers and prospects, and it will be interesting how he performs during training camp.

Clarke and Filmon were the two marquee offensive players representing the Devils this weekend. Both players found the back of the net in the opening game against Ottawa. Against Boston, Filmon made a nice play at the blue line to prevent a Bruins breakout, then found Clarke streaking down the wing, leading to a nice shot and a Devils goal. Clarke has an outside chance of making the NHL roster, while Filmon looks like he could be another late-round gem.

Daniil Misyul looks like Nikita Okhotiuk 2.0

Misyul signed his entry-level deal this offseason after spending the last few years in the KHL. He displayed his size and strength on the ice and has a path to being an NHL player one day. His build and style of play looks very similar to fellow Russian and former Devil, Nikita Okhotiuk. Misyul got better each game and continually tried to show off his physicality. There’s very little offensive upside to his game, but after a few years of seasoning in the AHL, he could slot in as an NHL number-six defenceman.

Tyler Brennan is not ready for the AHL Starting Job

Goaltending and goaltending depth has been a hot topic regarding the Devils. At the AHL level, Nico Daws figured to be the starter until an injury that has him sidelined until the end of the year. 2022 fourth-round pick Tyler Brennan has been in consideration for a shot at the job. However, his game against Ottawa was shaky, and it’s evident he’s not ready for a big-time role. He let a few bad goals sneak through him and never looked like he got comfortable in the net. Maybe a strong camp can put him back into consideration, but a year as the starter down in the ECHL might make more sense.

What is Chase Stillman’s Role?

The Chase Stillman pick never made sense at the time, and it’s starting to become obvious his role in the NHL will be very limited. As a former first-round pick it would be expected that he would make some type of impact during a prospect tournament, but he was mostly a passenger. I wonder what his role will be in the AHL this year, and if he can produce enough to warrant a shot in the NHL. He maxes out as a bottom-six player in the NHL, but he’ll need to produce in the AHL to even be given a shot. Nevertheless, Stillman is still a Tom Fitzgerald pick, so he’ll be given every chance possible to make the big club in the future.

Devils Lack Prospect Depth

This final point doesn’t come as a surprise, but regardless there is a lack of high-end prospect depth within the organization now, and that is a great thing. The Devils have finally come out of the rebuild and all their top guys are now in the NHL, or focusing on getting ready for training camp. Outside of Nemec and Stillman, the roster for this weekend primarily consisted of mid-round picks, undrafted free agents, and tryouts. This is a great problem to have. The Devils still have a handful of quality prospects, but nowhere near the number they had a few years ago. As this team continues to challenge for the Stanley Cup, it will be imperative that Fitzgerald and his staff continue to draft and develop cheap players on their ELC.

Main Photo: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports


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