5 Devils Prospects to Watch at Rookie Camp

On Monday morning, the New Jersey Devils released their 2019 Development Camp Roster.

Camp will kick off on Tuesday, July 9 and run through Saturday, July 13 at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House at Prudential Center.

The roster has a combined 37 players, including nine of the 11 players selected at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and a mix of players who spent time with the big league club last season, like Brett Seney, Nathan Bastian, and Michael McLeod, among others.

In addition to the players who belong to the organization, the Devils will host three invitees: Danny Weight (USA NTDP), Nicholas Canade (Mississauga Steelheads OHL) and Tyler Young (Neponset Valley River Rats U18).

With camp kicking off on Tuesday morning, here are five Devils prospects to keep an eye on this week:

Jack Hughes – Drafted 2019, 1st overall

With all the hype that comes with being selected first overall and after an incredible season in which he recorded 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists) in 50 games as captain of the U.S. National U18 team, Hughes is ready to prove that he belongs on the Devils’ big-league roster as early as next season.

Jack Hughes Devils Draft
Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils, 2019 NHL Draft. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

His lightning fast foot speed, dynamic skating, and high hockey IQ catapulted him to the top of the prospect rankings, but he needs to prove his play can translate to the NHL level. It all starts with a strong showing in rookie camp.

Jesper Boqvist – Drafted 2017, 36th overall

After an impressive sophomore season in the SHL in which he averaged .67 points per game and finished second in the league in even-strength scoring as a 20-year old for Brynäs IF, Jesper Boqvist joins Hughes proving he belongs with the big league club starting next season.

Jesper Boqvist at the New Jersey Devils 2017 Development Camp. (Photo Credit: New Jersey Devils/Patrick Dodson)

He signed his entry-level deal in June, and his rare combination of foot-speed, agility, and above average puck-handling skills along with his incredible poise with the puck often leads to matchup problems for opposing players. He has the potential to be a top-six winger in the NHL, and he’ll look to make his mark starting in rookie camp.

Ty Smith – Drafted 2018, 17th overall

The speedy and crafty 19-year-old defenseman possesses the poise and hockey IQ of a veteran, and he nearly made the Devils’ big-league roster out of main camp in 2018. Last season, as captain of the Spokane Chiefs, Smith recorded 69 points in 57 games. His seven goals, 62 assists, and plus-5 rating earned the Lloydminster, Alberta native the honor of being named the Western Hockey League Defenseman of the Year.

Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs
Ty Smith with the Spokane Chiefs. (Larry Brunt/Spokane Chiefs)

Since the Devils did not address the left-side of their blue line this summer, it could mean they’re ready to give Smith a shot come October, but he still needs a strong showing in both rookie camp this week and training camp later on in the summer to solidify his spot with the big club.

Aarne Talvitie – Drafted 2017, 160th overall

The 20-year-old Finnish forward got off to a hot start in his first collegiate season. He recorded just under a point per game with 16 points in 17 games for the Penn State Nittany Lions before suffering a season-ending knee injury at the World Junior Championships that cost him the rest of his freshman season.

Colby Sissons, Aarne Talvitie
Colby Sissons (center) and Aarne Talvitie (right) battle in front of the crease at the New Jersey Devils’ 2017 Development Camp. (Photo Credit: New Jersey Devils/Patrick Dodson)

Still, the sample we saw from Talvite was quite good and if he can completely recover, he’ll be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on for next season and beyond. He excels when using his combination of speed and grit to generate scoring chances and he can provide scoring depth for the Devils down the line if he reaches his ceiling. Rookie camp will be the first time the Devils get to see him since his injury, so it’ll be interesting to see how he’s recovered.

Marian Studenic – Drafted 2017, 143rd overall

The 20-year-old Czech forward is one of the more underrated prospects in the Devils’ pipeline. In 64 games in Binghamton last season, Studenič registered 13 goals and 15 assists.

Marian Studenic with the Hamilton Bulldogs. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

He’ll likely spend another season in Binghamton, but if he picks up where he left off and makes a good impression in rookie camp, I won’t be surprised if the Devils call him up before the end of next season. He has the potential to be a middle-six forward, but he needs to prove he can consistently find the score sheet.

Other players worth keeping an eye on are Nikita Okhotyuk (drafted 2019, second round), Fabian Zetterlund (drafted 2017, third round) and Reilly Walsh (drafted 2017, third round).

Tuesday will feature on-ice practices, where the players will be divided into three groups. They will remain in their three groups and participate in a 3-on-3 tournament on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday will include more on-ice practices and the camp will commence with a full-ice scrimmage on Saturday.