Devils’ Prospect Report: Holtz, Bahl, Filmon & More

The New Jersey Devils faced their first form of adversity since the first two games of the season when they lost 2-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs to end their 13-game winning streak. Fortunately, New Jersey responded by posting two wins against the Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals in what hopes to be the beginning of a new streak. In between, Alexander Holtz and Kevin Bahl were sent to the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League (AHL) on Wednesday (Nov. 23) where they made their presences felt immediately, before eventually being recalled back to New Jersey on Monday (Nov. 28).

Holtz & Bahl Between New Jersey & Utica

Holtz and Bahl became victims of the Devils’ winning ways, as neither were able to crack the NHL lineup amidst the win streak. Both players are more than capable of making an impact, but head coach Lindy Ruff had no reason to make lineup changes after his team won 13 games in a row and 18 of its last 20. As a result, both players were assigned to the AHL, where they’d have the opportunity to log heavy minutes for a struggling Comets’ side.

“Holtzy, he’s such an enthusiastic kid… We expect him, it’s easy to say to go out and score goals, but just to generate chances and bring enthusiasm that we just expect out of him being a young, vivacious kid.” Comets’ head coach Kevin Dinnen said. “Kevin is big, strong, he’s got composure with the puck, he’s got a quiet demeanor about him, but we expect him to be a guy that’s extremely hard to play against. No fun when you’ve got a guy that is as physical as he is.”

Related: Devils’ Holtz Shines in Preseason Win Over Bruins – 10/8/22

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Each played three games with the Comets before being recalled back to New Jersey. Holtz recorded one goal, which came as the overtime game-winner, and two assists in that time, while Bahl recorded three shots and was a plus-2 rating. The Comets went 2-0-1 in that stretch for a much-needed five points. Utica now sits on 15 points, tied with the Hartford Wolf Pack and Laval Rocket for bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Holtz and Bahl, along with Nico Daws, were recalled back to the Devils before their matchup against the New York Rangers after Nathan Bastian picked up an upper-body injury in Saturday’s (Nov. 26) game against the Capitals and Akira Schmid came down with an illness. Holtz is expect to play against the Rangers on the Devils’ fourth line with Jesper Boqvist and Yegor Sharangovich, and also see some power-play time, which means Bahl will likely be scratched and Daws will back-up Vitek Vanecek.

Expect Holtz, Bahl and Daws to be returned to Utica once Bastian and Schmid return to the Devils’ lineup.

Filmon Filling the Net

Josh Filmon recorded one goal Friday (Nov. 25) in the Swift Current Broncos’ 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings and one goal and one assist Saturday (Nov. 26) in the Broncos’ 5-3 win over the Oil Kings, to cap off a three-point weekend. He was also a plus-5 in the two combined games and recorded three shots on goal in each game.

Josh Filmon Swift Current Broncos
Josh Filmon, Swift Current Broncos (Ed Fonger/Swift Current Broncos)

Filmon has 12 goals and nine assists for 21 points in 18 games, good for third on the Broncos. The former sixth-round pick is third on the team amongst forwards with a plus-3 rating and 52 shots on goal. He also leads the team in goals and is tied for the team lead with four power-play goals.

Bardakov & Popugaev Make Impact For SKA St. Petersburg

After being traded from HC Sochi to SKA St. Petersburg, Nikita Popugaev was placed on a line with fellow Devils’ prospect Zakhar Bardakov for two of the last three games for SKA. Both are big bodied — Bardakov at 6-foot-2, and Popugaev at 6-foot-6 — and have the makeups to form a tough and physical third or fourth line for the Kontinental Hockey League’s (KHL) best club.

Related: Zakhar Bardakov – 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Bardakov recorded one goal in Tuesday’s (Nov. 22) 6-2 win over CSKA Moscow and also added two shots on goal. Popugaev had just one shot on goal. The two were eventually separated for Saturday’s (Nov. 26) game after not finding the score sheet in Thursday’s (Nov. 24) 2-1 loss to Lokomotiv.

Popugaev went on to record two assists in Saturday’s 6-2 win over Torpedo while Bardakov was held scoreless. Although it’s a small sample size, the two seem to be affective in SKA’s bottom six. Bardakov has four goals and six assists in 22 games with SKA and Popugaev had nine goals and five assists in 28 games with Sochi and two assists in four games with SKA. Bardakov is also tied for second on the team with a plus-16 rating and 29 penalty minutes.

Best of the Rest

The Devils’ defensive prospect trio of Shakir Mukhamadullin, Topias Vilen and Ethan Edwards each recorded a goal Friday (Nov. 25). Vilen also added an assist to finish off a two-point night.

Mukhamadullin’s goal, which is the prettiest of them all, came when he collected the puck just inside the blue line along the wall, then spun towards the middle of the ice, before firing a wicked wrister that found the back of the net. The former first-round pick now has five goals and eight assists in 35 games.

Vilen’s goal came when he snuck down towards the left faceoff dot, collected a pass from behind the net, and fired the shot short side over the goalie’s blocker. The goal originally wasn’t awarded because the puck entered and exited the net so quickly, but after review, it was determined that it was a good goal. The 19-year-old has six goals and three assists in 18 games and is tied for the most goals amongst all Liiga defensemen.

Edwards tends to be overshadowed by fellow Michigan defensemen, and Devils’ prospects, Luke Hughes and Seamus Casey, but the sophomore defenseman is having a nice season. He recorded his second goal of the season Friday when he collected the puck along the boards, circled to the middle of the ice on his backhand before splitting two defenders and firing the shot home on his forehand from inside the slot. Edwards has two goals and two assists in 12 games and leads the Wolverines with 21 blocks.

It’s nice to see prospects other than Hughes and Simon Nemec making headlines weekly, as its a sign of depth, something that has been crucial for the Devils’ recent success. If prospects continue to perform at high levels like they have been, New Jersey can be an organization that is built for long-time success.

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