The Devils website today released a list of Devils prospects who have been honored by their various major junior and college hockey leagues.
In the Ontario Hockey League, “Devils prospects finished in the top three of seven different categories in the 2015-16 OHL’s Coaches Poll, which recognizes players in 20 different skill categories within their own conference.”
Sarnia Sting superstar Pavel Zacha was named Best Penalty Killer in the OHL’s Western Conference. He was also second in Hardest Shot. Zacha’s Sarnia teammate Josh Jacobs tied for second in the Hardest Worker category with Jonah Gadjovich of the Owen Sound Attack.
Barrie Colts goalie Mackenzie Blackwood was voted Best Puck-Handling Goalie, tied with Alex Nedeljkovic of the Niagara IceDogs for first place in that category in the Eastern Conference. Blackwood also finished second in the Best Shootout Goalie category.
Blake Speers of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds was voted third for Best Stickhandler in the Western Conference, he tied at that position with Jeremy Bracco of the Kitchener Rangers. Fellow Devils prospect Colton White, also of the Soo Greyhounds, tied for third in Best Defensive Defenseman category with Chris Martenet of the London Knights.
Congratulations to all the Devils prospects who ranked in the coach’s poll in the OHL.
Moving over to the NCAA, Steven Santini of Boston College was named the Best Defensive Defenseman in Hockey East. Congratulations to Santini for receiving this honor from Hockey East.
The Devils future looks to be in good hands, as some of these categories really stand out. Zacha is being tagged as a future superstar in the NHL and to see that he is disciplined enough to be a top penalty killer in the OHL is very encouraging. His hardest shot voting goes along with his 58 points that is second on the Sting (he has 28 goals and 30 assists). According to the Devils’ press release, he also has 10 power play goals.
Blackwood seems to be following in the Martin Brodeur mold with his puck handling ability. Add to that that he is tied for first in the OHL in save percentage (.922), fourth in shutouts (3) and fifth in wins (27) and fifth in goals against average (2.68) and you have a really well rounded goaltender. In a recent interview with Deb Placey on an MSG broadcast, Devils Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald said that Blackwood could easily challenge Keith Kinkaid for the backup spot behind Cory Schneider as early as next season. That is how highly the Devils brass thinks of Blackwood.
Santini, in becoming the seventh Boston College player to be named Best Defensive Defenseman in Hockey East conference history, had 17 points on the season according to the Devils’ website and a plus-23 rating. One of the most telling stats for him is that he had 50 blocked shots in 37 games.