What Should New Jersey Devils Do With Fabian Zetterlund and Marian Studenic?

Marian Studenic #27 of the Binghampton Devils. (Photo by Stephane Dube /Getty Images)
Marian Studenic #27 of the Binghampton Devils. (Photo by Stephane Dube /Getty Images) /

The Devils have a decision to make on Fabian Zetterlund and Marian Studenic.

New Jersey Devils training camp is going to start sometime in the middle of this week. Teams are allowed to invite 36 forwards and defensemen to camp this season due to new rules tied to the pandemic. That severely limits the Devils, who were likely trying to have a massive camp battle between its plethora of talented prospects.

Since there is a limit, the Devils will be keeping certain prospects on their current teams. Two of those players are Fabian Zetterlund and Marian Studenic. These two prospects aren’t some of the top in the Devils system (Studenic is ranked 21st and Zetterlund is ranked 14th in our Top 25 Prospect Rankings). Still, the Devils want to make the best possible decision on their future because they still showed promise in the AHL last year.

Corey Masisak said in his mailbag last week that both Zetterlund and Studenic will stay overseas and miss training camp. This doesn’t mean that the Devils are leaving them overseas all season. They can still request they return for the start of the AHL season, which is still slated for February (although that’s still pending).

Studenic is currently playing for HC Slovan in the Slovakian league. He has 12 points in 21 games, so he’s getting some decent offensive experience. At last check, he was playing on the team’s third line at right wing. It’s not like he’s getting first line center minutes, but it’s a men’s league where he’s showing a scoring prowess.

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Zetterlund is playing in HockeyAllsvenskan. He’s playing for AIK in what is the secondary league in Sweden. If Zetterlund stays in Sweden, would he be allowed to move up to the SHL? Is he even playing well enough to jump to the country’s top league? One would hope for his sake.

Zetterlund only has seven points in 14 games. It’s not terrible, but he’s playing in the Swedish equivalent of the AHL. So, he’s playing against lesser competition than he would here in North America. The hope was he’d dominate a little more than he has based on his stat sheet (which admittedly isn’t everything).

The Devils now have to decide what is best for their respective developments. Is Studenic better off playing third-line wing in a men’s league that isn’t one of the top in all of Europe? And Zetterlund is playing in a lesser league even in his country. What will he gain from staying in Sweden if he doesn’t get upgraded to the SHL?

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It seems like it’s obvious the best move to make is bring them both back for the start of the AHL season. The Devils need to see what they offer as they assess which prospects are part of the future and which ones would be good as trade bait. The Devils have been adding prospects and draft picks for years. The only prospects they actually traded were Blake Spears (part of the Taylor Hall trade), Jeremy Davies (part of the P.K. Subban trade), and John Quenneville (for John Hayden, unfortunately).

They will eventually need to trade away some of these prospects to retain their value. They need to see if Zetterlund and Studenic will do better as “keep em” or “trade em” prospects for the future. That will work much better if they are playing under the Devils’ control.