Here at Pucks and Pitchforks we try to keep you updated on all Devils news. Living in New Jersey the one thing I noticed, is that it’s hard to take a look at future New Jersey Devils. SO here I will give you our top 20 prospects in the Devils system. I’m sorry I couldn’t finish the prospect countdown faster, but here are some of the remaining prospects on our countdown.
20. Mike Sislo – RW
19. Ben Thompson – LW
18. Ryan Kujawinski – C
17. Graham Black – C
16. Seth Helgeson – D
15. Maxime Clermont – G
14. Myles Bell – LW
13. Joe Whitney – LW
12. Brandon Burlon – D
#11. Keith Kinkaid, G, Albany Devils
An un-drafted free agent from Union College, grew up idolizing Martin Brodeur. The recent trade for Cory Schneider has thrown a wrench to his NHL future, but he has the skill to be Schneider’s back up in a year when Brodeur’s contract runs out. The 24 year old net minder will likely be splitting time this upcoming season in Albany with Scott Wedgewood.
Keith Kinkaid had a mediocre season in 2012-2013 in the AHL posting a 2.72 GAA and a .903 save percentage. That however wasn’t his big accomplishment. During a brutal stretch for Johan Hedburg in 2013, while Martin Brodeur was injured, Kinkaid was called on in relief. He played a period against the Tampa Bay Lightning, allowing one goal. His highlight came when he made a beautiful break away save on all-world goal scorer, Steven Stamkos
Will be in a battle next season for the back up goalie with the a fore mentioned Wedgewood. Has good technique, plays very low on the ice, not a full butterfly style. Almost like a Tim Thomas style, without throwing his body around the crease.
#10 Blake Pietila, LW, Michigan Tech (NCAA)
While Black Pietila is not a sexy prospect, he has played a very important role on the gold-medal winning United States U-20 team last winter. He played on the US’ checking line all tournament and was very, very solid in his own zone. He was also able to put some points on the board in the tournament.
His biggest asset is his hockey IQ, and the way he moves without the puck. He is an energetic prospect that operates like the Energizer bunny. While he won’t light up the score sheet he is up this high because he projects to be a sure fire NHLer, even if it means a third or fourth line role, which is Pietila’s ceiling.
#9 Reece Scarlett, D, Swift Current Broncos
Reece Scarlett was a victum of not exceeding the previous good season, or else he would be in the top five. He put up an exact stat
line the past two seasons, nine goals, 40 assists (played in three less games in 2012-2013). Scarlett is a very solid two-way defenseman who has a bright future in the NHL.
The only thing standing in his way is the log jam that the Devils have in young promising defenseman. regardless his biggest asset is his ability to move the puck and his agility. Even with an above average offensive skill set, he is also above average in his own zone. His active stick gets him and his team out of trouble. You would like to see him put on a few more pounds. He will more than likely play this season in the AHL, were he can realistically make a run at the big club in a year or two, unless he blows the coaching staff away in this year’s training camp.
#8 Scott Wedgewood, G, Trenton Titans (ECHL)
Much like Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood‘s journey to become a starting goalie in the NHL took a blow when the Devils were able to acquire Schneider. He is on pace to split time with Kinkaid this season in Albany, although it’s more likely that Kinkaid will get more starts.
Wedgewood won a bronze medal with Canada in 2010 at the world junior championships, going 2-1, with a shutout. The hybrid style Wedgewood has a smaller five-hole than most goalies, but his best asset is his ability to play the puck. He can’t move it like Martin Brodeur, but he can act as a third defenseman. Last season he put up some pretty stale numbers on a bad Trenton team. He had a 3.22 GAA and a .900 save percentage. Not exactly numbers that you want to see out of your top goalie prospect.
He was also called up to the AHL for five games, but didn’t fare any better posting a 3.47 GAA and a sub .900 save percentage. To be fair to all goalies in the system, the Devils had some pretty miserable D-men playing in the minors. That will change this upcoming year when they help from their CHL prospects graduating to the pro ranks. This will be a big year for Wedgewood and Kinkaid to assert themselves as the #3 (or #2 if Brodeur retires this year) in the system.
#7 Alex Urbom, D, Albany Devils
Alex Urbom would of liked to have lost the “prospect” title by now in his playing career, but his ability to stand out from others has led to being passed in the defenseman depth chart. However the 23 year old still has a lot of time to prove he can have a solid career in the NHL. Urbom is apart of the new set of defensemen that the Devils will be icing in the next one or two years.
When he was drafted he was thought of as an offensive/two-way defenseman. When he came over to North America he was not able to produce offensively as some thought. That however does not mean he can’t make an impact. He is a big guy at 6-3 and 216 pounds, has the make for defensive D-man. He still has the mobility, so I won’t use the term “stay at home”.
He does have some NHL experience, but only a handful of games the past couple years. Even has two NHL goals. Last season in the AHL he did not register a goal, but had eight assists. The transformation to s defensive guy has delayed his road to the NHL, but getting the chance to work with Larry Robinson, and Scott Stevens over the past couple years have sped it up a bit. He needs one more season in the AHL before he can realistically compete for an NHL job.
#6 Steve Santini, D, USNDT
While many people, including me thought the Devils would take a forward with their first pick in the 2013 draft, they went with Steve Santini instead. Not much was known about Santini, but after doing some research, it sounds like a great pick.
In the U-18 world junior tournament Santini was named the best defenseman in the entire tournament. He shut down big time prospects like Connor McDavid and Valeri Nichushkin. The big 6-1 defenseman played in 64 games last year and registered 15 assists and a plus 15. The nasty D-man will play next season for legendary coach York at Boston College, where it’s certain he will learn the in’s and outs of the game. Santini was also invited to the USA try out camp over the summer to a chance to play in the world junior championships. By all accounts he played very well, exciting pick, even if we have to wait 4+ years.
#5 Stefan Matteau, C/RW, Blainville-Boisbriand Aramada
The dream was real for Stefan Matteau, as he made the big team out of camp last season before being sent back to juniors. During his time in the NHL he played in 16 games and put up one goal, two assists. The most impressive part was he was playing top six minutes, and
didn’t look out of place on the ice.
Last season didn’t end on a high note for Matteau, as he was dismissed from his junior team during the playoffs after butting heads with the coach and owner. The power forward will forever be entrenched in controversy after the team decided not to forfeit the draft pick. Even though it looks like Matteau could play in the NHL, the depth above him would push him into a lesser role. In that case it’s better off he hone his craft in the AHL.
Matteau was cut from the eventual gold-medal winning USA junior team, but was re-invited to this past summer’s try out camp. He would be higher on the list, but on occasions he looks lost and his play can be inconsistent. I’d still look for him to eventually be in the top six, or maybe even nine. The long term replacement for Danius Zubrus.
#4 Eric Gelinas, D, Albany Devils
One of the most ready prospects in the system Eric Gelinas could be on the big team this October. Gelinas is a mobile two-way defenseman with a very big shot. If you watched Monday’s preseason game you got to see that big shot in action. Gelinas has been on the team’s radar for the past two seasons.
Played last season in Albany and put up 6 goals (led team in defensive goals), and 16 assists. He could be a very big contributor on the power play. He’s big and can move up and down the ice. He also has a very good pass out of his own zone. The one thing he needed to work on was his defense, and by the looks of it he did.
Gelinas was one of the three stars in the past preseason game against the Rangers. He looked very good in his own zone, breaking up plays and keeping an active stick.
Stay tuned into P&P for our top three!