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Devils Top 20 Prospects

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08-21-2013, 09:52 AM
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Devils Top 20 Prospects

Entering the 2014 season, here is how the Devils prospect list shakes out....

Graduated: Casey Cizikas

Strenghts: High end talent at all positions. The Devils may boast the best top-5 prospect group in the entire league.
Weaknesses: Depth. Things drop off quickly after the top 12 or so prospects. It's a struggle to find 20 worth mentioning.

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov - C
Acquired: 2010 Draft, 1st Round, 23rd Overall
Will he or won't he? There is little doubt that Kuznetsov has the talent to be a star in the NHL, the question is whether he will leave the KHL to do so. After two dominant performances at the U20s, Kuznetsov led his KHL team in scoring, by a wide margin, at just 20 years old. There is a huge hole in Washington on the second line waiting for him.

2. Sean Monahan - C
Acquired: 2013 Draft, 1st Round, 8th Overall
One of the top two-way talents available in the draft, Monahan has everything you want out of a center. He has good size, plays a smart game, can win the draw and is excellent in his own end. While his puck skills and hockey sense are above average, there is question whether he has the elite offensive talent to be a top-level #1 center. On a team that already has John Tavares, that may not be an issue.

3. Rasmus Ristolainen - D
Acquired: 2013 Draft, 1st Round, 15th Overall
Big, physical, and skilled, Ristolainen has all the tools to be a top pairing defenseman in the NHL. He has spent the last two years playing against men in Finland and has not looked out of place. He may make the NHL as an 18 year old, but if not, it won't be long.

4. Brock Nelson - C
Acquired: Trade, Summer 2013
After a successful first pro season in 2012-13 in which he led the Sound Tigers in scoring and even saw action in a playoff game for the Isles, Nelson looks ready for the big leagues in 2013. He has good size, uses it well, and is skilled with the puck. Not a pure offensive player, he will likely fit in as a second/third line center.

5. Danny DeKeyser - D
Acquired: Signed as a free agent, 2013
The big prize in the annual HFNHL Undrafted Free Agent Lottery, DeKeyser is one of the best prospects anywhere in his own end. He is big and uses his size well but is smart enough to avoid being out of position when going for the hit. While he won't wow anyone with his offense, he can skate and makes a good first pass to clear the zone. After signing with the NHL Wings, DeKeyser played 18+ minutes a night as Detroit was scrambling to make the playoffs before a thumb injury cost him all but 2 playoff games. He could be a top-4 defenseman as soon as this season.

6. Pontus Aberg - W
Acquired: 2012 Draft, 2nd Round, 33rd Overall
An offensive winger, Aberg led his team in scoring last season in Sweden's second league despite being the second youngest (to 2013 first round pick Mattias Wennberg) forward on the team. A tad undersized, Aberg has excellent speed and is equally adept as a shooter or playmaker. He has the tools to be a top-6 winger in the NHL.

7. Radko Gudas - D
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent, 2010
Ah 2010. When you could sign an undrafted free agent without offering max money and entering a lottery. The Devils had no competition in signing Gudas, and the rest of the league is probably hitting themselves as a result. Gudas is a very physical defenseman who also has a bit offensive skill. Despite standing at just 6'0, 205 lbs, Gudas will hit anything that moves and provides steady play in his own end. Expect him to be a regular on the Lighting next year.

8. Antti Raanta - G
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent, 2013
The Devils other big pickup in the offseason, Raanta was one of the top goalies in Europe before signing with the Blackhawks. After posting a ridiculous .943 s% in the top Finnish league in 2012-14, he went out and topped that in the playoffs by saving .955% of the shots en route to being named the regular season and playoff MVP. He then led Finland to the bronze medal game in the World Championships, starting 7 of the team's 10 games and posting a .928s%. Expect him to start the season with Rockford in the AHL, but he could push Khabibulin for the backup role by midseason.

9. Jared Knight - W
Acquired: Trade, February 2012
Knight plays a gritty game, takes care of business in his own end and has some offensive skills as well. Despite being a bit undersized, Knight plays the body and excels around the net. An injury wiped out almost all of his 2012-13 season, but he projects as an ideal third line winger.

10. Teemu Pulkkinen - W
Acquired: 2010 Draft, 2nd Round, 40th Overall
A boom or bust prospect, Pulkkinen has an elite-level shot and has proven to be a good playmaker as well. The reason he is ranked 10th and not in the top-5 is because of the rest of his game. His skating is average at best and he needs to add strength and show a willingness to go into traffic. He also needs to improve his play without the puck. Still, those things can be learned and if Pulkkinen is willing to do the work, he has a bright future. Pulkkinen will take the first step by spending the 2012-13 season in the AHL.

11. Pavel Buchnevich - W
Acquired: 2013 Draft, 2nd Round, 46th Overall
Buchnevich displays an abundance of high-end skill to go with a 6'1" frame. The only reason that Buchnevich wasn't a first round pick is because he is Russian, not Canadian. That is a good reason though, as it is highly possible that he spends his entire career in Russia where he can make more money early on, play closer to home, and not have to worry as much about working on his defensive game.

12. Andrey Pedan - D
Acquired: Trade, February 2012
A big hitting defenseman, Pedan has improved his numbers every year in juniors, putting up 44 points in 60 games in his final season. The knock on Pedan is his hockey sense, too often he will look for the big hit and end up out of position or take a bad penalty in the offensive zone. If he can continue learning the game, he could end up as a second pairing defenseman.

13. Mark Visentin - G
Acquired: Trade, February 2012
A star in the OHL, Visentin had a rough transition to the professional game, finishing the year with a .903 s%. Visentin has good size and agility and is an above-average puck handler for a goalie. If he continues to refine his technical game he could be a decent starting goalie, especially if he plays in the Coyotes system.

14. Kevin Poulin - G
Acquired: Trade, March 2010
Poulin was once projected as a possible first round pick and was the second overall pick in the 2006 QMJHL entry draft. Poulin struggled in his first couple of seasons in juniors and fell to the 6th round in the 2008 draft. His play rebounded, and in 2010 an GM called him the best goalie in junior hockey. That GM was none other than Patrick Roy. Poulin has been caught in a numbers game with the Islanders who drafted two goalies early in 2009. He has bounced between the Sound Tigers and Islanders without being able to get comfortable in either place. That said, the Islanders gave him a vote of confidence this offseason when they failed (stupidly) to sign a veteran backup. Poulin will have his opportunity this year to prove he is an NHL goalie.

15. Matt Fraser - W
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent, 2010
A high-scoring winger in the AHL, it remains to be seen whether that skill will translate to the NHL. The problem is, Fraser doesn't seem to have a lot of other skills to rely on if he isn't putting the puck in the net on a consistent basis. On a team like the Bruins that expect their forwards to play well at both ends, Fraser will either adapt or find himself a career AHLer.

16. Simon Fernholm - D
Acquired: Drafted, 2012, 7th Round, 183rd Overall
Fernholm is a big defenseman at 6'4" and plays a sound game in his own end. Doesn't possess any offensive skills to speak of, but his defensive ability made him a regular for Sweden at the World Juniors and earned him 5 games in the Swedish Elite League this past season as a 19 year old.

17. Brandon Kichton - D
Acquired: Trade, February 2012
Small but skilled, Kichton has been one of the highest scoring defensemen in junior hockey the past three years. He still needs to work on his defensive game, which could be a big issue for a defenseman.

18. Joe Finley - D
Acquired: Drafted, 2006, 3rd Round, 66th Overall
Big, but not very good, and probably a bust. Finley has seen time in the NHL the past two years but looked out of place and couldn't keep up with the speed of the game. Washington's move to make him a forward for a couple of years didn't help his development. Now 26, it looks like he will never be anything more than an AHL player / depth defenseman.

19. Steve Quailer - W
Acquired: Drafted, 2009, 5th Round, 138th Overall
Quailer had an excellent freshman season at Northeastern posting 10 goals and 35 points, then blew out his knee and never looked the same again. Quailer is a physical player and could eventually find a home on the 4th line.

20. Matt MacKenzie - D
Acquired: Drafted 2010, 2nd Round, 51st Overall
Going into the draft, MacKenzie was seen as primarily a stay at home defenseman with enough offensive skill to see time on the second power play. In his draft year, he put up 40 points in 64 regular season games and 16 points in 23 playoff games. In his pro career, he has put up 11 points in 57 games over two seasons and has bounced between the AHL and ECHL. MacKenzie has had trouble staying healthy, and trouble getting into the lineup when healthy.

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08-21-2013, 01:43 PM
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I'm jealous of those big three centres up top, even if both Kuznetsov and Nelson carry some risk. That could be a perfect trio down the line.

Further down the list, I would probably have Fraser ahead of Pulkkinen and Knight, because he's actually proven quite a bit as an AHL scorer, but then again I'm not really a Pulkkinen fan. On the other hand, Fraser might have stood a better chance in Dallas than Boston.

Overall, with your pro roster in such good shape, I think you've intelligently consolidated your assets in a few key prospects. I should probably think about following your example.

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08-24-2013, 12:21 AM
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I enjoy reading stuff like this. Great effort!

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08-24-2013, 12:23 AM
Paul Martin Jones
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Originally Posted by Hossa View Post
I'm jealous of those big three centres up top, even if both Kuznetsov and Nelson carry some risk. That could be a perfect trio down the line.

Especially when you see his 3 pro C are Getzlaf, Tavares, Seguin


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08-25-2013, 01:06 PM
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That is a solid group of prospects. It looks like you have a shot at 12+ being legit players that is a ridiculously high % of your top 20 turning out.

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