Top prospects for New Jersey Devils

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NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec. 16. Today, the top five prospects for the New Jersey Devils, according to NHL.com.

 

[Devils 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]

 

1. Alexander Holtz, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 7 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Djurgarden IF (SHL): 35 GP, 9-7-16

Holtz is a pure goal-scorer capable of playing a tough, intelligent game. The 18-year-old right wing is expected to be a top-six forward alongside centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. Holtz is an effective playmaker and a strong candidate to represent Sweden at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship after scoring five points (three goals, two assists) to help it to a third-place finish in the 2020 WJC.

“Holtz is sort of that new generation of player, possessing great speed and pace,” Devils assistant general manager Dan MacKinnon said. “He’s got a great release, reads the game well. He’s not a big guy (6-foot, 192 pounds), but very sturdy and mature. We’re very excited to get him, a scoring winger who will complement what we have down the middle with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier in the not-so-distant future.”

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Fitzgerald and Holtz discuss the Devils draft

 

2. Nolan Foote, F

How acquired: Trade from Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 16

2019-20 season: Kelowna (WHL): 27 GP, 15-18-33

The 20-year-old likely will begin his first professional season with Binghamton, earning big minutes in the American Hockey League. Foote (6-3, 196) brings a shoot-first mentality and some physicality. He scored five points (three goals, two assists) in seven games to help Canada win the IIHF 2020 World Junior Championship.

“He’s made strides with his skating, his ability to get to the inside and demonstrate more of those power-forward characteristics that seem harder to find in the game right now,” MacKinnon said. “When you look at our left side down the road, prospectwise, there was nothing like [Foote] coming, so he fills a void for us as a future top-six, power forward-type winger on the left side.”

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

3. Ty Smith, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 17 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Spokane (WHL): 46 GP, 19-40-59

Smith (5-11, 175) was named Western Hockey League Defenseman of the Year for a second straight season. The 20-year-old, who can run a power play, had 16 multipoint games and scored 21 power-play points (three goals, 18 assists) last season. He had three assists in seven games for Canada at the 2020 WJC. 

“We’re … expecting Ty to be where he maybe was two years ago (when he was the last player cut from NHL training camp),” MacKinnon said. “It doesn’t mean he starts opening night necessarily, but he’s on track to be an impactful defenseman for this organization in the near future.”

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: Devils draft D Ty Smith No. 17

 

4. Shakir Mukhamadullin, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 20 pick in 2020 NHL Draft 

2019-20 season: Ufa (KHL): 27 GP, 0-1-1

Mukhamadullin (6-4, 178) is in his second full season with Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League. Compared by some NHL scouts to St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, the 18-year-old has good offensive instincts and plays a strong two-way game. Mukhamadullin had two assists and was plus-2 in three games for Russia in the four-team Karjala Cup in Helsinki, Finland, from Nov. 5-8 and could have a significant role at the 2021 WJC in Edmonton.

Projected NHL arrival: 2022-23

Video: 31 in 31: New Jersey Devils 2020-21 season preview

 

5. Dawson Mercer, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 18 pick in 2020 NHL Draft 

2019-20 season: Drummondville (QMJHL): 26 GP: 18-24-42; Chicoutimi (QMJHL): 16 GP, 6-12-18

A right-hand shot capable of playing in all situations, the 19-year-old center can generate offense and is reliable in his own zone. Mercer (6-0, 180), who is expected to play for Canada at the 2021 WJC, is a smart, heads-up skater who finishes checks and is strong on the power play and penalty kill.

“He’s a version of (Boston Bruins center) Patrice Bergeron in his qualities,” MacKinnon said. “I’m not saying he’s going to be Bergeron, but he just has high hockey IQ beyond his years.” 

Projected NHL arrival: 2022-23

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