Devils Prospects to Take Part in NHLPA Rookie Showcase

Amanda Stein of the Devils’ official website is reporting that three Devils prospects will be taking part in the 11th annual NHLPA Rookie Showcase.

She described the event as “an opportunity for Upper Deck to take photographs and video of the up-and-comers in the NHL, with the content collected used for an array of memorabilia including Upper Deck trading cards and digital video posts.”

There will be “28 NHL prospects and rookies” attending including Jack Hughes, Ty Smith and Jesper Boqvist attending from the Devils.

Stein said that “the event involves a group activity for the players as well as wrapping up with a team scrimmage.” It will take place August 25 at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia, the Capitals’ practice facility.

In other news, Taylor Hall was named 15th on the NHL Network’s List of Top 20 Wingers.

The Devils’ official website blogger Chris Wescott quoted NHL Network analyst (and former Devil) Mike Rupp as saying: “When he’s in the lineup, he’s contributing, he’s getting points. Look for him to have another bounce-back year this year and probably be higher on the list next year.”

The 2018 Hart Trophy winner was the only Devil to make the list.

Devils Sign Boqvist to ELC

The Devils’ Public Relations department today put out a press release on the official website saying that the Devils and Jesper Boqvist have agreed to terms on an entry level contract (ELC). The contract is for three years.

Boqvist is a 20-year-old forward who played the last two years from 2017-18 to 2018-19 with Brynas IF of the Swedish Hockey League. Last season, his first full professional season in the SHL, he had a career high 13 goals, 22 assists for 35 total points. He also recorded 14 penalty minutes over his 51 games. He was in the top 20 in goals, top 16 in assists in the SHL and ended up “tied for second in points by players under the age of 21” all according to the press release put out by the Devils.

In total, he played in 98 SHL games, recording “16 goals and 39 assists for 55 points and 20 penalty minutes with a +13 rating. He added one goal and one assist for two points in 20 SHL playoff games” according to the presser.

The press release goes on to say that Boqvist is a 6-foot, 180-pound “native of Falun, Sweden” and won a silver medal at the 2016 Under-18 World Junior Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota. There, he played with Jesper Bratt on Team Sweden. The release said that he had two goals and an assist for three points in the seven games Sweden played there.

At the 2018 Under-20 World Junior Championship, he again won the silver with Sweden. In that tournament, he played with Fabian Zetterlund, who the press release notes is a recently-signed Devils’ prospect. In this tournament, he had a goal and a plus-3 rating in six games.

The press release noted that Adam Boqvist, Jesper’s younger brother, was taken by the Blackhawks in the first round (eighth overall) in last year’s Draft. Jesper was the Devils’ second round pick (36th overall) in 2017.

Boqvist also did a Q&A with Amanda Stein on the Devils’ website as well. In that interview, Boqvist told Stein that he is excited about signing with the Devils as it is “one step closer” to being in the NHL and that is “fun for [him] to think about.”

He also told Stein that the NHL was always his “ultimate goal” but that it was fun playing with Brynas IF in the SHL because that was his “favorite team growing up.” Now, however, he is focused on playing for the Devils and that is his dream now.

He said that he “was given a pretty big role on [Brynas IF]” in that he “played on the top line and the top power-play [unit]” and that that was a huge learning experience for him. He told Stein that the thing he learned the most from last season in the SHL was that playing against older competition showed him how strong pro players are and that you have to think the game smarter at that level. He joked that you also “need to play without the puck, too!”

When asked by Stein who he saw as his role model amongst Swedish players in the NHL, he said that Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals is one (he grew up cheering for him on Brynas IF). He also mentioned former Devil and current Boston Bruin Marcus Johansson as the other player that he admired the most.

When Stein asked what he is trying to show Devils management this summer at camp, Boqvist replied that he can “(h)opefully… bring some offensive upside and touches and just play my game.”

Stein then asked if being a part of the Devils, with a young and talented roster of prospects, is something that is exciting for him. He replied that it is and that he has been trying to follow as much of New Jersey’s games as he can from Sweden. He also hopes to “be part of [the young talent] soon.”

The interview followed up with talk about Jesper’s brother Adam, who Stein pointed out plays for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Now that Jesper will be in North America, he will get to see his brother again. He joked that “right now, we’re just happy we both have phones!” He also said that it will be nice to be nearer to where Adam is playing. They had “always been on the same teams and city” but are now separated. So that will be nice for him.

Good luck to Jesper Boqvist as we head to Development Camp next month and, eventually, training camp in September.

Devils Round Out the 2017 Draft with Ten More Picks

Day two of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, rounds two through seven, saw the Devils add ten more prospects to their pool. Let’s get down to looking at who they picked and what sources say about them.

With the 36th pick overall in the second round, the Devils took Swedish center Jesper Boqvist. Boqvist, who is 5-foot, 11-inches tall and 165-pounds, played last season for Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League. He represented Sweden in the 2016 Under-18 World Championship – where they won a silver medal and the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. His profile on NHL.com says that he had six assists in 16 games for Brynas last year and that he models his game after Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals.

With the 63rd overall pick in the third round (which the Devils acquired from Colorado in the Eric Gelinas trade), New Jersey took Swedish winger Fabian Zetterlund of Farjestad Jr. The 5-foot, 11-inch, 195-pound native of Karlstad, Sweden had two penatly minutes with Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League in 14 games. He played the majority of last season in the Swedish Junior league where he played 40 games and had 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points and 18 penalty minutes.

The Devils’ next pick was 81st overall in the third round (acquired from San Jose when they signed head coach Pete DeBoer). With that, they took Reilly Walsh, a defenseman from Proctor Academy out of New Hampshire. The 5-foot, 11-inch, 184-pound blueliner from Andover, New Hampshire played in four games for the USA at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tourament. According to his profile on NHL.com, his dad, Mike Walsh, played “in 14 games with the Islanders from 1987-89.” He has also committed to play at Harvard University in 2017-18 and plays his game in the style of Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Devils took Russian left wing Nikita Popugaev with the 98th overall pick in the fourth round. He is 6-foot, 5-inches and 219-pounds and played last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. He had a total of 29 goals and 40 assists for 69 points over 71 games split between those two teams last year in the WHL. The 18-year-old (who turns 19 this November 20) native of Moscow won a gold medal in the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He had three goals in six games played. According to NHL.com, his favorite player (who he wears number 71 in honor of) is Evgeni Malkin.

Popugaev was one of the few players with a full, detailed scouting report on him online. NHL Central Scouting says of him: he is a “good package of size, skills and smarts – excellent vision with hockey sense to support teammates and make good choices on the play – utilized in all situations and plays the point on the power play at times – unselfish game with the puck – repsponsible two-way game – vision and thought process often a step ahead of teammates – doesn’t like to lose a battle in any situation and plays to win.”

That moved the Devils to the fifth round, where they were scheduled to pick fifth, the 129th overall pick. With that, they took Swiss goaltender Gilles Senn. He is 6-foot, 5-inches tall and weighs 191-pounds. He played last season with HC Davos of the Swiss league where he played 34 games and compiled a 2.64 goals against average and a .910 save percentage in 2000 minutes of ice time.

The Devils had another pick in the fifth round, 143rd overall, via San Jose (the Mirco Mueller trade) and they used it on Slovakian right winger Marian Studenic of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League. In 58 games with the Bulldogs last season, he had 18 goals, 12 assists for 30 points and 23 penalty minutes. He lists SIdney Crosby as his hockey idol on NHL.com and dreams of “winning the Stanley Cup.” A noble wish for any aspiring hockey player, to be sure.

Moving to the sixth round, the Devils took Aarne Talvitie 160th overall. The 5-foot, 10-inch, 198-pound native of Espoo, Finland played for Blues Jr. last year of the Finnish Junior league. He had 13 goals and 24 assists for 37 points and 36 penalty minutes in 46 games for them last year.

New Jersey took a Canadian for the first time this draft by selecting defenseman Jocktan Chainey 191st overall in the seventh round. He is from Asbestos, Quebec and was a teammate of Nico Hischier on the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With Halifax last year, he had four goals and 20 assists for 24 points and 44 penalty minutes in 55 games skated in.

The Devils’ final two picks came via the Sharks and they used them both on defensemen.

They took Russian d-man Yegor Zaitsev 205th overall in the seventh round. He is a 6-foot, 180-pound native of Moscow who played 19 games for Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League last season. He had 1 assist and ten penalty minutes in those 19 games. He played the bulk of his season with Balashikha of the Russian second tier last year, potting two goals and four assists for six points to go along with 44 penalty minutes in 24 games.

The Devils used their final pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (214th overall in the seventh round) on Rogers, Minnesota-native Matthew Hellickson. He is a 6-foot, 184-pound defenseman out of the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League. He had six goals and 22 assists for 28 points and 30 penalty minutes in 52 games played for Sioux City last year.

Overall, it was a good haul for the Devils. Of course, netting Nico Hischier at first overall skews that quite a bit, but if you can get an NHL player out of any of the lower rung of picks, that will be gravy. Good luck to all of the Devils’ draftees as they set out on the next phase of their hockey careers.