New Jersey Devils prospect Mitchell Hoelscher had himself quite the year last season with the Ottawa 67’s. After being selected by the Devils in the sixth round (172nd overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft the 19-year-old put up OHL career-highs in points (40) and assists (30) over 68 regular-season games and then added 13 more points (6g-7a) in the playoffs for the 67’s, which included a remarkable 11-game point streak where he had two, three-game goal streaks.
He still has one more year of eligibility left in Ottawa and that is almost certainly where he will spend this upcoming season. But he could be a nice hidden gem found by the Devils scouting staff in the late rounds. It’s also not a far stretch to say that while keeping tabs on Hoelscher this past season they found two more players that wound up being selected by New Jersey at the 2019 NHL Draft, his teammates with the 67’s – forward Graeme Clarke and defenseman Nikita Okhotyuk.
We caught up with Mitchell Hoelscher following the conclusion of the Devils Development Camp in July to find out if he’s been playing big brother to his buddies from Ottawa, and why their team was so successful last season.
Bright Lights, Big City
The Hockey Writers: This is your second Development Camp with the Devils, how was your week here in New Jersey?
Mitchell Hoelscher: It’s been a lot of fun. You come to camp and with this being my second year I know what to expect. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can. There are so many great resources here: the development guys, the scouts, Aimee (Kimball, Director of Player and Team Development).
THW: What has been your favorite off-ice activity during this week’s Development Camp?
MH: For me, it’s probably going to the New York Yankees game and touring New York City. I’ve never been there before so that was a new experience. I’m from a small town in Elora, Ontario (smiles) so to see a big city like New York City is pretty unbelievable. On the train, we were shoulder-to-shoulder because it was so packed! It was a cool experience.
THW: There are now two of your teammates in Ottawa that have been added to the Devils prospect pool, have they been asking you lots of questions about what to expect?
MH: Yeah for sure. I think Graeme (Clarke) and Nikita (Okhotyuk) both have asked a lot of questions. It was kind of nice for me being in my second year being able to tell them what to expect, or help them find a room, or finding an elevator, that kind of stuff.
THW: Last season the 67’s had a great deal of success, what was the key in your mind that helped your team have such a great season?
MH: I think off the ice we were really a close group, had a lot of chemistry. We hung out together at the rink and away from the rink, just the bond that we had. I think its something that the Devils preach here too, that Brotherhood. I think the off-ice success and chemistry really shows on the ice. That was definitely a big factor for us in Ottawa.
THW: For yourself, it seemed like you game really peaked during the amazing playoff run your team had. Can you explain how you were feeling during that time?
MH: My season came along throughout the year. I think I started to figure out that I am more of a defensive player, but I started to jump in the offense a little bit more as well in the playoffs. My linemates were two older guys in the playoffs and I think that really helped me too. Having my game come around in the playoffs helped my confidence for sure.
THW: When you’re on a long point streak like you were, how cognizant are you of it or are you just so focused on the next game because it’s the playoffs?
MH: Points are nice, but especially in the playoffs you’re just trying to win and do whatever you can for the team to win. Sure it helps my confidence when I’m getting points, but ultimately in the playoffs, you just want to win.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.