Devils Prospects Preview: Casey, Hughes, Salminen & More

The New Jersey Devils only have a few prospects playing in the NCAA and major junior leagues, but the ones they do have are expected to play a large role for their team and could develop into impact players at the NHL level. These players just kicked off their season. Here’s a look at their starts so far.

Casey Scores Twice In Michigan Debut

Seamus Casey scored two goals in his Michigan debut Saturday as the Wolverines cruised to an 8-2 victory over Windsor in their first preseason game. The former second-round pick skated on the top pairing alongside Jacob Truscott in Luke Hughes’ spot after the latter was sidelined due to an injury sustained with Team USA at the World Junior Championship in August.

Related: New Jersey Devils Draft Seamus Casey 46th Overall

Casey’s first goal came when he jammed home the puck that ricocheted off the back boards right into the crease. His second came after he collected a puck at the top of the right circle, skated in and deked to his backhand to beat the goaltender over his blocker.

Michigan’s defensive core is also made up of the Devils’ 2021 first-round pick Luke Hughes and 2020 fourth-round pick Ethan Edwards.

Hughes’ Preseason Accolades

The Luke Hughes hype has continued into his sophomore season after he exceeded expectations last year with Michigan when he recorded 17 goals and 22 assists. The former fourth-overall pick broke the Michigan record for goals by a freshman defenseman, surpassing Dean Turner’s previous tally of 13 set in 1977. He was also named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Year and to the All-Big Ten Second Team, All-Big Ten Freshman Team, Big Ten All-Tournament team and a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

Luke Hughes USDP
Luke Hughes with the USDP (Photo: Rena Laverty)

Heading into this season, Hughes was named an alternate captain for the Wolverines and was added to Chris Peters of Flo Hockey’s 2022 Hobey Baker Award Watchlist and the Big Ten Preseason First Team. The 19-year-old is expected to build off his record-breaking freshman season to help seventh-ranked Michigan repeat as Big Ten Champions and push for its first NCAA Tournament championship since 1998.

Salminen Healthy Scratch In UConn’s First Series

Samu Salminen transferred to the University of Connecticut after de-committing from the University of Denver due to issues with Denver’s admission requirements. He is expected to log heavy minutes for the Huskies, but it didn’t quite work out that way early in UConn’s season.

The Finnish center was a healthy scratch in Connecticut’s first two exhibition games against Vermont – the Huskies won 4-1 Saturday and 3-1 Sunday. The team did not give an update as to why Salminen was scratched, but it’s not a good sign for a player who is starting his first season in North America.

Related: 2021 NHL Draft: Top 10 Finnish Prospects

Salminen spent last season as the captain of Jokerit’s U20 team where he recorded 19 goals and 29 assists in 48 games.

The Best of the Rest

Josh Filmon looks like a potential late-round gem. The 2022 sixth-round draft pick recorded two goals and one assist in three games with the Devils in the Prospect Challenge and impressed coaches so much that he was invited to New Jersey’s training camp. He was sent back to the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League (WHL) on Friday, but the 6-foot-1 winger looks to have all the tools to develop into an NHL power forward.

Artem Shlaine transferred from the University of Connecticut to Northern Michigan and recorded a goal and two assists in his debut series with the Wildcats when they lost 6-4 to Bowling Green Saturday and won 4-3 on Sunday. The 2020 fifth-rounder skated as Northern Michigan’s second-line center and won 28 of 36 faceoffs on the weekend.

Case McCarthy was named an alternate captain during his senior season at Boston University. The 21-year-old defenseman recorded one assist, one shot on goal and four penalty minutes in the Terriers’ 8-2 win over Bentley.

The Devils also announced that 2021 first-round pick Chase Stillman was assigned to the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League, where he recorded an assist in his first game back, and 2022 fourth-round pick Tyler Brennan was returned to the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, where he hasn’t dressed yet.

Hughes is expected to join New Jersey next season, but which other Devils prospects playing in NCAA or major junior will go on to have the biggest impact in the NHL? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below and be sure to check back for the third and final edition about prospects in Utica and prospects set to break into the NHL.


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