Author Archives: Omair Taher

Prospect Watch: October 2011

In this new feature to the Devils Army Blog, we’re offering a quick way to keep track of Devils prospects that are currently not with the organization as members of the New Jersey Devils, Albany Devils, or Kalamazoo Wings. This includes prospects that are playing in the NCAA, CHL, USHL, and Europe.

NCAA

Blake Coleman, C, Miami-Ohio

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

8

1

1

2

18

12

0

Notes: Coleman assisted on a power play goal by defenseman Chris Wideman (Ottawa) to record his first point at the collegiate level in Miami’s 3-2 win against Bemidji State on October 8. His first goal came unassisted in a 5-3 loss to Lake Superior State on Oct 28. Coleman appears to be making the most of his ice time, as he is currently tied for the team lead in shots on goal with Reilly Smith (Dallas).

Patrick Daly, D, Wisconsin

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

4

0

0

0

2

0

-2

Notes: With five upperclassmen ahead of him on the depth chart, expect Daly to be played with caution. So far he has only appeared in half of Wisconsin’s games this season. Barring injuries, he will likely be in and out of the lineup, splitting time with fellow freshman blueliner, Jake McCabe.

Joe Faust, D, Wisconsin

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

8

2

0

2

4

4

+3

Notes: Faust scored Wisconsin’s first goal of the season in a 3-2 loss to Northern Michigan.  His second goal of the season came in the third period against North Dakota on October 22, and was the eventual game winner in the Badgers’ 5-4 victory. With the departure of defensemen Craig Johnson and Jake Gardiner (Toronto), Faust should get considerably more ice time than he did as a freshman last year.

Curtis Gedig, D, Ohio State

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

8

0

3

3

5

2

+1

Notes: After a slow start to his sophomore season, Gedig had a strong showing in back to back games against Alaska this past weekend. He recorded an assist in each game (including one on the powerplay) and blocked 8 shots, giving him a team-high 24 on the season.

Seth Helgeson, D, Minnesota

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

8

0

2

2

8

18

+6

Notes: As indicative of his team-high 18 penalty minutes, Helgeson is a big, bruising blueliner whose job is to be more focused on keeping pucks out of the net than generating offense. Still, with defensemen in today’s NHL required to be adept at both ends of the ice, it’s good to see him get pucks on net and rack up the occasional assist.

Corbin McPherson, D, Colgate

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

7

0

2

2

2

Notes: McPherson has continued his steady play in his senior year at Colgate. He hasn’t put up big numbers in college and that likely won’t change at the professional level. He has, however, established himself as a big, stay-at-home defenseman.

Jon Merrill, D, Michigan

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

Notes:  Merrill is currently serving a 12 game suspension for violating team rules.

Blake Pietila, LW, Michigan Tech

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

8

3

4

7

33

2

+1

Notes: Pietila has come storming out of the gate in his freshman year at Michigan Tech. He’s currently third on the Huskies in points and leads the team with an impressive 33 shots on goal (four shots per game is Zach Parise territory).

Derek Rodwell, LW, North Dakota

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

8

0

0

0

13

2

-2

Notes: Rodwell hasn’t shown any signs of breaking out in his sophomore season at North Dakota. Although he isn’t known for his offensive prowess, his complete lack of production is a bit disconcerting.

David Wohlberg, C, Michigan

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

8

3

7

10

20

4

+7

Notes: Wohlberg has done nothing but impress since arriving at Michigan. Now in his senior year, he is second on the team in points and continues to exhibit solid two-way play.  A sixth round pick in the 2008 draft, Wohlberg is establishing himself as a steal.

CHL

Reid Boucher, LW, Sarnia (OHL)

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

15

12

5

17

4

-1

Notes: So far, Boucher’s decision to leave Michigan State for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League is paying off. His 12 goals in 15 games put him in a tie for the team lead with 2012 NHL Draft top prospect, Nail Yakupov.

Reece Scralett, D, Swift Current (WHL)

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

15

3

12

15

23

-7

Notes: Scarlett is off to an impressive start, already well on pace to set career highs in goals and assists.  He currently leads all Swift Current Broncos defensemen in scoring, and is fifth among all Western Hockey League defensemen.

Scott Wedgewood, G, Plymouth (OHL)

GP

GAA

SV%

W

L

T

SO

10

3.73

0.886

4

4

2

0

Notes: After carrying the bulk of the load for Plymouth last season, Wedgewood has found himself splitting time with Matt Mahalak (Carolina) this year.

Europe

Mauro Jörg, RW, Lugano (Switzerland)

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

18

2

1

3

4

Notes: A seventh round selection in 2010, Jörg may have been somewhat of a project pick. So far hasn’t shown much offensive ability, but with his skill set, he could be molded into an effective fourth line or checking forward if the Devils opt to bring him to North America.

Maxim Noreau, D, Ambri-Piotta (Switzerland)

GP

G

A

Pts

S

PIM

+/-

18

5

16

21

6

Notes: A proven offensive defenseman throughout his career, Noreau has continued to put up big numbers in Switzerland. At 24, he’s by far the oldest prospect on this list, but should he choose to return to North America, he could still prove to be a valuable addition in New Jersey or Albany.

2011 NHL Draft Prospect Preview: Gabriel Landeskog

LandeskogThree of the Devils’ last four first round picks have been forwards from Sweden. So if Director of Scouting David Conte calls Stockholm native Gabriel Landeskog to the stage on June 24, one may be tempted to expect more of the same. However, Landeskog is a much different player than his countrymen, and actually fits the profile of a typical Canadian or American player.

Landeskog began his hockey career with Djurgårdens IF, the same club where current Devils prospects Jacob Josefson and Alexander Urbom got their starts. But after just two seasons, he left Sweden for the Ontario Hockey League and has played for the Kitchener Rangers ever since. As a result, the 6’0, 201 lb right-winger will go into this year’s draft as a North American player, and is second to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, not Adam Larsson, in Central Scouting’s final rankings.

The Devils are already very well stocked up front, but Landeskog has some unique qualities to his game that may allow him to climb up the depth chart fairly quickly. He is a skilled offensive player, but loves to play an aggressive and physical game. In 53 regular season contests with Kitchener, he scored 36 goals and 30 assists for 66 points while racking up 61 penalty minutes and three fighting majors in the process.

Landeskog had a strong showing in the playoffs as well. Although the Rangers were unable to get past the first round, he recorded six goals and four assists in a series that went to seven games. He was also selected to Sweden’s World Junior team this past winter, and was named an alternate captain, but played only one game due to a high-ankle sprain. He did, however, tally a goal and an assist in that game.

In the intangibles department, Landeskog has it all. He is a natural leader who can spark his team with his strong work ethic and intensity. He is also very well spoken, without a hint of an accent, and makes his presence known on the bench and in the locker room. Often compared to former Kitchener Ranger and current Philadelphia Flyers’ captain Mike Richards, he was handed the “C” as a 17-year-old, and could find himself wearing a letter early on in his professional career.

By all aspects, Landeskog is the most NHL-ready prospect in this year’s draft. He already possesses the build, maturity, and talent to play in the NHL. If he does land in New Jersey, it’s certainly possible that he’ll be on the Devils’ opening night roster. He may start out on the third or fourth line, but he could compliment scoring wingers such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise on the top two lines in the future.

Regular Season Playoffs
SEASON TEAM Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 DIF SEL 3 0 1 1 2 2
2009-10 KR OHL
61 24 22 46 51 0 20 8 15 23 18
2010-11 KR
OHL
53 36 30 66 61 27 7 6 4 10 4

2011 NHL Draft Prospect Preview: Sean Couturier

Sean CouturierSean Couturier’s stock has taken a large hit over the course of the 2010-11 season. Once in the running to go first overall on draft day, he finished sixth among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings, dropping four spots from the midterm rankings in January. A fall that significant can be alarming, but Couturier is still a premier prospect and likely remains coveted by many of the teams selecting early in the first round.

What makes Couturier such an intriguing prospect from New Jersey’s perspective is that he has “prototypical Devil” written all over him. Standing at 6’4, 197 lbs, he’s an intelligent two-way center who is responsible in all three zones, possesses an excellent work ethic, and is good at the faceoff dot. His size and solid all around game have earned him comparisons to former Devil Jason Arnott and Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal.

There are at least four other centers expected to go in the top-10 this June, but Couturier is unique in that he is particularly conscientious in his own end for an 18-year-old. The Bathurst, New Brunswick native was the lone draft eligible player to suit up for the silver medal-winning Canadian team at the World Juniors this past winter. He only managed to score two goals and an assist in seven games, but was a plus-six and played fairly well in a mostly third-line checking role.

Although his sound defensive play is one of the more impressive aspects of his game, Couturier can certainly bring it in the offensive zone as well. He isn’t the best skater, but gets by with his soft hands. He’s great at distributing the puck, has a good shot, and puts himself in good positions to score goals. He also protects the puck well using his large frame, but will likely need to pack on a few more pounds to be effective in the NHL.

In 58 regular season contests with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this year, Couturier posted 36 goals and 60 assists for 96 points – matching his point production from last season, albeit in 10 fewer games. He also added six goals and five assists in 10 playoff games.

The lack of a significant bump in his numbers may have played a role in Couturier’s tumble down the rankings. After an incredible 2009-10 campaign, all eyes were on the young pivot and expectations were set very high – possibly too high. However, his production this season was still impressive, especially given his lackluster supporting cast. Though he may not be ready for the pros just yet, Couturier still projects as a top-two center. If the Devils do take him at fourth overall, it could ultimately prove to be a very shrewd selection.

Regular Season Playoffs
SEASON TEAM Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 DV QMJHL 58 9 22 31 14 24 19 1 7 8 8
2009-10 DV
QMJHL
68 41 55 96 47 62 14 10 8 18 18
2010-11 DV
QMJHL
58 36 60 96 36 55 10 6 5 11 14

2011 NHL Draft Prospect Preview: Adam Larsson

Adam LarssonIn the fall, Adam Larsson was a consensus top-two pick in this year’s draft. However, a lot has changed over the course of the season. With the emergence of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, and Jonathan Huberdeau, the field has become much more crowded. Even with the draft less than two months away, there’s really no telling how the first five selections will play out. That said, if the Swedish blueliner does slip past Edmonton, Colorado, and Florida, one would have to assume that the Devils will be waiting for him at number four with open arms.

Ranked first among European skaters by Central Scouting, Larsson is the ultimate defensive package. At 6’3, 220 lbs, he is already physically built for the pros and possesses all of the tools to be a dynamic two-way defenseman in the NHL.

Larsson’s most impressive asset is his skating ability. The 18-year-old is exceptionally mobile for a player his size. His quick wheels allow him to jump in on the offensive attack and get back defensively when play heads the other way. He also sees the ice very well, has good offensive instincts, makes an excellent first pass, and has a booming shot from the point.

On the defensive side of the puck, Larsson plays like a seasoned veteran. He’s very calm and composed in his own zone, makes smart decisions, and has sound positioning and defensive awareness. Although he isn’t overly physical, he uses his large frame rather effectively and doesn’t shy away from delivering the occasional hit.

In the 2010-11 season, Larsson posted one goal, eight assists and a plus-12 rating in 37 regular season games with his hometown team, Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Elite League. He also represented Sweden at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship, scoring a goal and three assists in six games.

Though his numbers aren’t spectacular, they certainly don’t do him much justice. Larsson is an elite defensive prospect the likes of which the Devils have not had since they selected Scott Niedermayer third overall in 1991. He still has a long way to go to reach his full potential, but under the tutelage of hall of famers Scott Stevens and Larry Robinson, he could develop into the number-one defenseman the Devils have been longing for since the lockout.

Regular Season Playoffs
SEASON TEAM Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 SHC SEL 1 0 0 0 0 0
2009-10 SHC
SEL
49 4 13 17 18 -7  11  0  1  1  31
2010-11 SHC
SEL
37 1 8 9 41 12  17  0  4  4  12

2011 NHL Draft Prospect Preview: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Nugent Hopkins

Nugent-Hopkins

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – the number one ranked North American skater by Central Scouting – is expected to be long gone when the Devils step up to the podium to make the fourth overall selection on June 24. However, stranger things have happened on draft day, so we are previewing him nonetheless.

At 6’0, 164 lbs, Nugent-Hopkins isn’t the bulkiest forward in this year’s draft, but he makes up for that with speed, skill, and style. Praised for his Gretzky-like vision, ability to maneuver the puck in the tightest of spaces, and tendency to make the players around him better, he has all the makings of a first-line playmaking center.

The 18-year-old Burnaby, British Columbia native didn’t start off the season atop the prospect rankings, but surged up after a breakout 2010-11 campaign with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. In 69 regular season games, he scored 31 goals and recorded a league-leading 75 assists for a team-high 106 points. He also posted four goals and seven assists in nine playoff contests.

Although he is best known for his offensive prowess, Nugent-Hopkins has also displayed a strong commitment to playing well on the other side of the puck. Using his quickness and active stick, he excels at dispossessing the puck from opponents and forcing turnovers – skills he may find particularly useful in New Jersey.

The Devils’ depth at the center position looks to have improved significantly with the promising play of prospects Jacob Josefson and Adam Henrique last season. Still, a player of Nugent-Hopkins’ caliber would be a welcomed addition to the organization. If he does fall to the Devils, he may not make the jump to the NHL right away, but it wouldn’t be long before Devils fans see him playing alongside the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Patrik Elias at The Rock.

Regular Season Playoffs
SEASON TEAM Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 RDR WHL 5 2 4 6 0 -6
2009-10 RDR WHL 67 24 41 65 28 -4 4 0 2 2 0
2010-11 RDR WHL 69 31 75 106 51 29
2010-11 RDR WHL 9 4 7 11 6
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,260 other followers

%d bloggers like this: