New Jersey Devils Defensive Prospects Evaluation Rises in Gold Medal Game

Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images)
Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images) /

Team Canada came from behind against a very cocky and super skilled Russian team to win the World Junior Championship this year. One of the players in Russia getting to the Gold Medal Game was Daniil Misyul, a super solid New Jersey Devils draftee not many people thought about. However from the last time people have seen Misyul, he helped propel Russia past Canada in a 6-0 win in their first meeting.

He did a great job covering his opponents in the neutral zone. Misyul is a very alert player in the defensive and offensive zone. He’s a highly-intelligent skater in moving the puck up ice. Very solid on the penalty kill, and he does play a 200-foot game. Misyul could be a solid top-four defenseman depending on how deep the Devils defense chart is with skill when he’s eventually ready for the pros.

Ty Smith has been a key cog on Canada’s blue line playing with guys like top prospect Bowen Byram. After he was sent back to play in Spokane in the WHL, it seems like he’s making the most of his time in Juniors. He’s a solid passer for short and deep passes. Calm under intense pressure versus Russia, Smith played very strong physically along the boards. Ty’s strength is now a plus since he’s playing in his last season for Canada’s Under-20 team.

What should we make of Smith’s future in New Jersey? He possesses the potential to be a bonafide 1st line defenseman with a complete two-way game, playing with the likes of P.K. Subban would help him play defensively and feed a highly-skilled offensive defenseman set-up passes.

Now the “big one” in this game was Mississauga, Ontario native Kevin Bahl. This Ottawa 67s defenseman had himself a huge tournament, no pun intended. He actually did a great job boxing out a Russian skater outside of his goalie’s crease. Bahl is really good in varying the puck up the neutral zone and directing the puck in the offensive zone. He adds muscle in the offensive zone, and does a marvelous job tiring out opposing defenders when they try and get a hold of the puck. One of the other things people don’t realize is his reach. He used his poke check more in the win versus Russia.

A big play that was key to getting Canada to play Russia was Bahl diving and poke checking a loose puck in his goalies crease versus Finland in the semi-final game. With a guy like Bahl, who is already a pretty good skater for a 6’7″ 240 pound, the sky is the limit. His skating coach spoke to Scott Wheeler of The Athletic about what we should expect from him.

"“Bahl balks at those who criticize his skating, or assume he’s slow. He has worked with a trio of skating coaches since his minor hockey days, including famed skating guru Dawn Braid, who has worked with everyone from Taylor Hall to John Tavares.”"

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With those who still remain skeptical about Bahl’s skating there is no need to worry. Skating coach Dawn Braid has so far proven to be very important in players like Taylor Hall to improve their skating game. The way Bahl looked in this past tournament, he can most certainly make a name for himself in the summer and pre-season Devils camps because he can take a little bit more time fine tuning in Binghamton before he makes the big jump like teammate Ty Smith.

2020 is looking very promising, and Ray Shero must feel like a genius for always trusting his amateur scouting department. With the New Jersey Devils having a solid history of drafting, and trading for players like Bahl adding really high quality individual players like that will only help build competition within the team. These kinds of evaluations from World Juniors are a sign of really good players wanting to prove to possibly play for the New Jersey Devils. Having a mix of defensive defenseman, and two-way defenseman in this New Jersey Devils draft cupboard with others that are awaiting in the wings hitting on these players will only make Devils fans crave winning, and achieving the ultimate prize.