The New Jersey Devils have won three games in a row after dropping their first two of the season in disappointing fashion. They lead the NHL in expected goals for percentage, which compares a team’s expected goals for with expected goals against, and are second in shots on goal per game through their first five games. The Devils are finally in a nice groove and so are some of their top prospects.
Mukhamadullin on a Hot Streak
Shakir Mukhamadullin continued his impressive play when he recorded two goals and two assists in Salavat Yulaev Ufa’s four games this week to bring his season totals to three goals and nine assists. He also has points in eight out of his last 10 games, which consisted of three goals and five assists in that span.
The former 20th-overall pick’s nine points, plus-9 rating, and 601 successful passes are all good for second on the team amongst defensemen. Mukhamadullin was always viewed as a “boom or bust” type of prospect and was almost written off when he was loaned back to Ufa after spending time with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League (AHL) last season, but he’s shown enough improvement and consistency this year to be viewed as a top NHL prospect.
Through 20 games, he is only one point shy of tying the career high that he set in his record-breaking 2020-21 season.
Future Devils’ Net in Good Hands With Daws & Brennan
Nico Daws is eighth in the AHL with a 1.88 goals against average (GAA) and a .941 save percentage (SV%) through his first two starts with the Comets. The 21-year-old had some impressive saves in Utica’s game on Monday (Oct. 17) to hold the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to one goal, before the game was eventually postponed due to a power outage in the arena.
Tyler Brennan recorded a .955 SV% and only gave up one goal on 22 shots in the Prince George Cougars’ 5-1 win Friday (Oct. 21) over the Vancouver Giants. The 2022 fourth-round pick is third in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with a 1.72 GAA and fourth with a .937 SV%. With shaky goaltending at times in New Jersey, the Devils have to feel extremely excited about the initial performances of their future netminders.
Johnsson, Thompson & Clarke Form Dynamic Line
Andreas Johnsson was paired with Tyce Thompson and Graeme Clarke with the Comets after clearing waivers. The trio combined for seven points, Johnsson with a goal and two assists and Thompson and Clarke with one goal and one assist each, in the Comets’ 3-2 win over the Cleveland Monsters on Friday (Oct. 21). Johnsson also added an assist on Saturday (Oct. 22) in Utica’s 2-1 loss to the Providence Bruins.
SILKY MITS 🧤 pic.twitter.com/ZgOyyK9QQo— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) October 22, 2022
Although I wouldn’t consider Johnsson a “prospect”, it’s worth mentioning his name as a catalyst for Thompson and Clarke’s early success. In the two games where this trio played together, Johnsson has four points and Clarke and Thompson each have two. They have shown great early chemistry and will be relied upon to get the 1-2-0 Comets back on the right track.
The Best Of The Rest
The trio of Luke Hughes, Seamus Casey, and Ethan Edwards was held to only two points in the Michigan Wolverines’ series against Lake Superior State University Friday (Oct. 21) and Saturday (Oct. 22) where they won 5-2 and 5-1. Although two points amongst three defensemen is far from underwhelming at first glance, Hughes is coming off a record-setting season for points and Casey is second amongst Wolverines’ defensemen with five points, so expectations are at an all-time high. The points haven’t been piling up for Hughes as rapidly as last season, but he’s been praised for his playmaking ability and defensive game.
Artem Shlaine has eight points in eight games with Northern Michigan after transferring from the University of Connecticut before the season. The 20-year-old junior is coming off a 17-point season in 36 games with the Huskies and is on pace to eclipse his career high in less than half as many games with Northern Michigan. He also has a faceoff winning percentage of 64.4 percent.
Samu Salminen finally joined the University of Connecticut after being scratched for the team’s first few series of the year due to a lengthy visa delay. The Finnish center enrolled in online college classes while skating with Jokerit’s under-20 team until his immigration status was sorted out. He is expected to make his Connecticut debut on Nov. 4 in the series against Maine.
Nikola Pasic continued his fine form with one goal, one assist, and a shootout game-winning goal in Sodertalje’s two wins Wednesday and Friday. He is now up to seven goals and six assists in 10 games this season, which is tied for fifth most in the HockeyAllsvenskan league. The Devils only hold the 22-year-old’s rights until June 2023, so he could be a player who makes the move to North America next season.
It seems like most of the Devils’ prospects are playing well to start the season. However, players like Chase Stillman and Nolan Foote haven’t had the offensive production they had hoped for early on.
Which Devils’ prospects have the most to prove this season? Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section below.
Mason works in the sports gambling industry but his true passion lies in the game of hockey. He covers the New Jersey Devils for The Hockey Writers and spent time in the past covering Penn State men’s hockey for various online media outlets. Feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter to further connect.