A Few Random Devils News Bits

I hope everyone in the United States had a great 4th of July yesterday and any Canadians reading this had a nice Canada Day back on Wednesday!

I wanted to get some random things that were too short for their own posts rolled into one bigger news post, so here goes.

The Devils continued to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement when they announced this past Wednesday that they would be putting a BLM logo behind the nets on the ice surface of their practice rink. For now, it is only being done at the RWJBarnabas Hockey House – largely due to the fact that the Devils’ season at Prudential Center is over. We will see if they will be putting it on the Prudential Center ice surface for the 2020-21 season (should it be played) and beyond.

In a second news bite, Devils Insiders announced on Twitter, via the Twitter account Russian Prospects, that prospect “Nikita Popugaev has signed a tryout deal” with HC Dynamo Moscow of the KHL. Russian Prospects did say that apparently the Devils will retain the NHL rights to him until June 1, 2021.

This happens a lot with Russian players who opt to play at home in the KHL and it does do some good in giving them some seasoning before they eventually make their way to the NHL.

Nikita Gusev did something similar in that he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lighting, opted to stay in the KHL, and had his rights traded to the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights ran into some cap trouble and ended up trading him to the Devils.

Similarly, Devils Insiders, in the same tweet, reported that Ludvig Larsson signed with Mora IK of the Swedish second tier pro league (the Allsvenskan). Devils Insiders mentioned that another Twitter user (Tracey Lake) had mentioned that neither players would be back with the Adirondack Thunder (the Devils’ ECHL affiliate).

In other Devils’ minor league affiliate news that I was not so quick on, the Binghamton Devils were approved for Phase 2 of reopening way back on June 1 according to their official website.

Their front offices were opened to help fans “via phone, email, and live chat.” As of that time – and I believe that they are still in this part of the phase of reopening – the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena remained closed to the general public.

On June 22, the team opened their offices to fans by appointment only. The visits to the third-floor offices for customers was one, through appointment only, two, required customers to wear a mask and, three, maintain social distancing. The team was still encouraging people to use live chat on their website, email or phone calls as a means of getting touch with the team should they have any questions, however.

And that wraps us up. Hopefully I am as caught up as I can be regarding news around the organization. The NHL teams that qualified for the play-in round/playoffs will be starting their next phase, which sees them open training camps. We should have something for you on that in the near future.

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.