2020 World Juniors Get Underway in Czech Republic

Merry Christmas and a big happy holidays to everyone! The 2020 World Junior Championship got underway today in Trinec and Ostrava, Czech Republic. With five players representing four teams, the Devils are well represented in this tournament.

The first game we will get to involving a Devils prospect was the host Czech Republic against Daniil Misyul and Russia. Misyul did not play and Russia fell to the Czechs 4-3. We will see if Misyul plays on Saturday when the Russians take on Canada in Group B action.

Group B consists of Canada, Czech Republic, Russia, the United States and Germany. Group A features Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Finland, Slovakia and Sweden. Group B is playing at the Ostravar Arena in Ostrava and Group A at the Werk Arena in Trinec.

In Group A, Switzerland and Akira Schmid took on Kazakhstan. Once again in this game, Schmid – the Devils prospect – was not dressed as the Swiss coach Thierry Paterlini went with the goaltending tandem of Luca Hollenstein (the starter) and backup Stephane Charlin. The Swiss won the game 5-3. Switzerland will next play Sweden on Saturday, the 28th.

Now on to two games that did feature Devils prospects playing in them. Sweden versus Finland featured forward Nikola Pasic playing for Sweden. He finished with two shots on goal in 14:47 of total ice time. Sweden won the game 3-2 in overtime as Sweden’s Alexander Holtz scored with five seconds to go in the extra session. For Sweden, this was their 49th straight win in pool play at the World Juniors.

Sweden outshot the Finns 48 to 25 as Swedish goalie Hugo Alnefelt made 23 saves in getting the victory. Sweden plays Switzerland on the 28th.

Next up, the big one for us in the US, as Canada defeated the Americans 6-4.

Canada has two Devils prospects playing for them, defenseman Ty Smith and the newly-acquired (in the Taylor Hall trade) defenseman Kevin Bahl. Smith had an assist and two shots on goal in 19:13 of total ice (which led all Canadian defensemen). Bahl had two shots in 17:10 of ice time.

This was a good game as Shane Pinto of the USA had the opener when he scored just 3:10 in on the power play to make it 1-0 US. Zac Jones and Bobby Brink had the assists on the goal. Before the end of the first, the US doubled their lead when Arthur Kaliyev from Trevor Zegras and Alex Turcotte at the 18:32 mark. This one also came on the man advantage.

Canada began their comeback in the second when they scored three unanswered. Connor McMichael scored from Akil Thomas just 3:31 into the second frame. Barrett Hayton scored at the 6:34 mark of the second on the power play from Alexis Lafreniere to tie things.

Nolan Foote scored on the power play at 13:03 to give the Canadians their first lead on the night. He got an assist from Smith for his first point of the tournament.

In the waning seconds of the second, the Americans had seemingly gotten on the board again on the power play. Bahl had taken a penalty at the 19:44 mark for roughing. The US seemed to score and the referee signaled that it was a good goal on the ice, but it did not hold up in review. The off ice officials had seen that time had expired before the puck went in and the US was denied.

In the third, Barrett and again gave Canada a power play goal when he scored 47 seconds into the period from Lafreniere and Joe Veleno. Lafreniere would go on to be named the player of the game.

The US got back into things, making it 4-2 when Nicholas Robertson scored 12:45 into the third from Oliver Wahlstrom and Pinto. Pinto was named the Americans’ player of the game at the end.

Pinto would tie things at four when he scored on the power play for the Americans at 16:42 from Robertson. But the American bench only had a few seconds of celebration. Following the faceoff and a miscommunication between the d-men in the American zone, Lafreniere scored for Canada to give them back the lead, 5-4.

The US would pull goalie Spencer Knight and Canada would get an empty netter from Ty Dellandrea (assist to Lafreniere) to ice the game. Lafreniere (who is expected to go first overall in the 2020 Draft) finished the game with a goal and three assists for four points total.

In goal, Nicolas Daws of Canada made 28 stops on 32 American shots. For the USA, Knight made 26 saves on 32 shots against. Canada finished the game with 33 shots due to the empty netter.

Next up for Team Canada: Russia on the 28th while the US plays tomorrow against Germany.

We will continue to have updates on the World Juniors as the tournament progresses right here for you.

Draft Day Two: Devils Acquire PK Subban

What. A. Day. After getting Jack Hughes with the first overall pick yesterday, the Devils kicked off the second day of the 2019 NHL Draft by making quite the splash. The club acquired defenseman PK Subban from the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Steven Santini, defenseman Jeremy Davies, a second-round pick in this year’s Draft (34th overall) and their second-round pick in the 2020 Draft.

The deal made sense for both teams as Nashville was trying to shed some cap in order to sign free agent forward Matt Duchene and the Devils will take on Subban’s entire salary. New Jersey finally gets to use some of their much-vaunted cap space and add a huge piece to their team going forward.

Subban is 30 years old and is one of the NHL’s premier blueliners. He has appeared in the “last three NHL All-Star Games (captaining his squad in the last two) and has been named to the NHL First All-Star Team twice” according to Chris Wescott of the Devils’ official website.

Subban played from 2009-10 to 2015-16 with the Montreal Canadiens and then the last three seasons with the Preds. One thing that Subban brings to the Devils, besides a booming shot from the point and great offensive skill, is notoriety. He is one of the most popular players in the league and also appears in commercials, endorsing things such as Bridgestone tires. He is also a charitable player who has given back to the community in Montreal and Nashville. It is not a stretch to think that with the combination of Taylor Hall, Jack Hughes and PK Subban, the Devils should now appear on national broadcasts a little bit more than in the past. The Devils suddenly become more interesting to a national audience.

The Devils are getting a player who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2013 and competed in the 2014 Olympics – where he won a gold medal with Canada. The native of Toronto had nine goals and 22 assists last season for 31 total points. He played in an abbreviated 63 game season due to injury. Over his career, he has notched 98 goals and 310 assists for 408 points in 645 games according to Hockey-Reference.com. NewJerseyDevils.com’s Wescott mentioned that he has played in 96 playoff games. In those postseason games, he has 18 goals and 44 assists for 65 points. He helped lead Nashville to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Welcome to New Jersey, PK Subban!

The Devils also made one other (low profile) trade today, acquiring John Hayden from the Blackhawks in exchange for John Quenneville.

Hayden was the Hawks’ third-round pick in 2013, out of Yale University. He appeared in 54 games for Chicago over the last four seasons, scoring three goals and two assists for five NHL points. He also logged 27 penalty minutes. This information all came via Chris Wescott of NewJerseyDevils.com.

As for the other eight picks the Devils had in this year’s Draft, those were well-spent. The team picked d-man Nikita Okhotyuk of the Ottawa 67’s (Ontario Hockey League) 61st overall in the second round. Wescott said that he had a pair of goals and 15 assists in 56 games for the 67’s last year. The native of Russia was the “NHL Central Scouting’s 55th-ranked North American Skater” and “captained Team Russia to a bronze medal at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.”

In the third round, the Devils had three picks. With the eighth pick, they took defenseman Danill Misyul from Yaroslavl 2 out of Russia. With the 18th pick in the round, they took Graeme Clarke of the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL. Clarke was born April 24, 2001 in Ottawa. He is a 6-foot, 174-pound right winger who plays “the game at a high level. Combines playmaking ability with a nose for the net” according to Future Considerations. McKeen’s Hockey said that he “is also a very gifted puck handler, blending skill with creativity.” He was ranked as the number 77 North American skater by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

With the 20th pick in the third round, the Devils selected defenseman Michael Vukojevic of the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. Born June 8, 2001, Vukojevic is a left-shooting d-man and is a “mobile shutdown defenseman who plays a physical brand of hockey” according to Hockeyprospect.com via EliteProspects. The reviews on him are that he is a good skater and “is accomplished at separating his man from the puck and can be punishing in front of his goalie” (McKeen’s Hockey). He was ranked number 76 amongst North American skaters by McKenzie.

Moving on to the fourth round, the Devils had two picks in that round including the third pick and the 25th pick. With the third pick, they took Tyce Thompson, a right wing from Providence College. He is the brother of Tage Thompson of the Buffalo Sabres and was born on July 12, 1999 in Oyster Bay, New York. He was ranked 83rd among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. He put up eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 42 games for the Friars last season.

With the 25th pick in the fourth round, the Devils took Case McCarthy of the US National Development Team. McCarthy of Clarence, New York was born on January 9, 2001 and is a right-shooting defenseman. He was ranked 77th by the NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters. He is described as a physical player, who does not go out of position to chase the big hit. He also has an “excellent breakout pass to exit the zone” as per Future Considerations.

Moving on to round five, the Devils had two picks. With the third pick in that round, they took Cole Brady, a goalie from the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League. He is 6-feet, 5-inches, 165-pounds and catches left. He was ranked number nine by the NHL Central Scouting for North American goalies. The native of Pickering, Ontario was born February 12, 2001.

Two picks later, the Devils selected Arseny Gritsyuk, a right wing from Omsk-2 of Russia.

With a pick in the sixth round and one in the seventh, the Devils were on the clock two more times. In round sixth, with the third pick, they took Patrick Moynihan, a right wing from the US National Development Program. Moynihan will be playing next season at Providence College, but he Millis, Massachusetts native (born January 23, 2001) was ranked 73rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He is considered a good two-way forward, with McKeen’s Hockey saying that he “is a diligent and versatile forward, able to impact the game in both the offensive and defensive roles.” Future Considerations said that he “has a good shot and is able to release it quickly to fool opposing goaltenders.” With him committing to Providence, the Devils may or may not be able to sign him following his NCAA career (ala Will Butcher and Alex Kerfoot), but that is the gamble you take on a college player and why you take them in the later rounds generally.

The third pick in the seventh round rounded out the Devils’ 2019 Draft and they took Nikola Pasic, a right wing from Linkoping Jr. of Sweden. A native of Gislaved, Sweden, he was born on October 16, 2000 and was ranked 88th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He is an offensive threat with Hockeyprospect.com saying that “Pasic is a dangler, where he uses his stickhandling to dazzle opponents and gets around them using fast hands and great balance.” McKeen’s Hockey said that he “has a quick release on his wrist shot and is dangerous when shooting while moving at top speed.” Future Considerations summed him up by saying that his “excellent vision and passing skills bode well for teammates and he is great at making plays happen.”

Overall, not a bad haul for the Devils this Draft (quite an understatement, I know). We will see where this takes us as we get closer to development camp and training camp through July, August and September. It is shaping up to be a great time for Devils fans. All I can say is enjoy the ride!