Prospects News & Rumors: Vukojevic, Clarke & Guenther

The New Jersey Devils agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract with their 2019 third-round pick. Barrie Colts defenseman Brandt Clarke continues to impress on loan in Slovakia. Edmonton Oil Kings forward Dylan Guenther adds to his impressive start to the season as he paces the Western Hockey League (WHL) in points per game.

Devils Sign Michael Vukojevic

The Devils announced that they’ve agree to a standard three-year, entry-level contract for Michael Vukojevic. Drafted 82nd overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Kitchener Rangers, where he recorded five goals and 25 assists for 30 points in 63 games played 11th in team scoring. He won a gold medal with Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup during the 2018-19 season.

THW’s Alex Chauvancy had this to say about progress and his impressive start to the 2020-21 AHL season.

He has good size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, and is a high-end skater. He wasn’t thought to have much offensive upside, but he’s shown good offensive instincts in spurts while in the AHL. He still has a ways to go to be NHL-ready. But for someone who wasn’t supposed to be playing pro hockey this season, he’s handled himself well.

In eight games played with the Binghamton Devils, Vukojevic has one goal and five assists for six points. He will remain with Binghamton for the time being, but if the OHL does resume, he will have to return to the Rangers. There still are several details to work out before the OHL begins play for the 2020-21 season, and I’m sure the Devils would like to keep him around for as long as they can.

Clarke Extends Point Streak in Slovakia

Clarke is heating up for HC Nove Zamky in Slovakia’s Tipos Extraliga. With an assist yesterday he extended his point streak to five games and has eight points over that stretch. He was recently named to the league’s Team of the Month for February after he had two goals and three assists for five points in eight matches. Clarke now has five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 26 games played. It’s an impressive stat line for the 18-year-old considering he had only three points in 14 games played prior to February.

Brandt Clarke Barrie Colts
Brandt Clarke of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

He is likely on his way back to the Colts soon as the OHL is hoping to begin their 2020-21 season in April. During the 2019-20 season, Clarke was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team and led all rookies in assists with 32. He’s one of several players fighting for first overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and his recent uptick in production will help his case.

Guenther Picks Up Where He Left Off

The 2020-21 WHL season kicked off earlier this month and top prospect for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft Dylan Guenther got off to a scorching start. The Edmonton Oil Kings winger recorded four goals and three assists for seven points in his first two games played. He followed that up with another two goals giving himself six goals and four assists for 10 points in four games played. It would be another 13 days before we saw Guenther return to action for the Oil King’s next set of games, but he returned in style with two goals and one assists in last nights 5-0 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. He’s now up to eight goals and five assists for 13 points in five games played. He ranks second in the WHL in scoring.

THW analyzed Guenther’s skillset in his 5 WHL Players to Watch article for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft earlier this year.

One of the biggest standouts about Guenther is his elite hockey sense at both ends of the ice. He reads the play so incredibly well. Defensively, he knows when to take a chance, spring forward, and pick off a pass, or when to hang back and take away a passing lane. Offensively, he reads defenders so well and knows where to find his teammates, setting up plays with regularity. He’s a player that never takes his foot off the gas, even without the puck. You can tell he’s hungry for his team to win and he’s always hungry to have the puck on his stick.

During the 2019-20 season, Guenther led all 2003-born forwards in scoring with an impressive 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points in 58 games played. He was awarded the Jim Piggott Trophy for WHL Rookie of the Year. With the WHL season delayed this year, he played a few games on loan with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In four games played, he recorded three goals and two assists for five points. He is one of the top forwards available in this year’s draft and this hot start will only help his draft stock.