The New Jersey Devils closed out the Prospects Challenge yesterday with a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins. That means training camp is up next, with veterans reporting for camp tomorrow (Sept. 20). But before then, let’s review how some Devils prospects fared in the finale of the Prospects Challenge.
Misyul Makes Another Strong Impression
One of the more interesting players heading into this tournament for the Devils was Daniil Misyul. A third-round pick of the organization in 2019, he already has four years of pro experience, having spent four seasons with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL.
Misyul’s point totals in the KHL were nothing to write home about; he totaled just 21 points across 184 games. But points are never a great indication of how a defenseman plays, especially in the KHL. He showed why that was the case at the Prospects Challenge, specifically in the team’s closer against the Bruins.
Misyul showed off some fluid skating, especially for someone who measures 6-foot-3, 196 pounds. He used his size to his advantage against the Bruins and consistently denied zone entries at the blue line. He was generally smart with the puck on his stick and was not afraid to use his frame in one-on-one battles.
One area I wasn’t sure about entering this weekend’s tournament was Misyul’s offensive upside. While I doubt he ever becomes a big point producer on North American ice, he wasn’t afraid to shoot the puck, which was also the case against the Bruins, and he showed potential in transition.
With Šimon Nemec getting the day off, Misyul had more opportunity to jump into the play. And even when he was aggressive offensively, he showed great instincts to get back into defensive position. There was one instance where he made a pass back to Topias Vilén at the blue line that was an example of this.
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Vilén bobbled the puck, which led to a partial breakaway for the Bruins. But Misyul, who had made the pass from near one of the faceoff circles, tracked all the way back and broke up the Bruins’ scoring chance without even allowing a shot on goal.
Misyul will begin the season with the Utica Comets in the AHL, but there was plenty to like about his game yesterday and this weekend. He has good size, is a good skater, and is at least very sound defensively. He’ll be worth monitoring with the Comets this season.
Clarke Finishes on a High Note
Graeme Clarke was having a good but not great tournament before yesterday, but I thought he played his best game of the Prospects Challenge against the Bruins. He got the scoring started early in the first period after Josh Filmon did a great job denying a breakout and getting the puck to Clarke, who fired a wicked wrister past Bruins goalie William Rousseau.
That was Clarke’s only point of the game, but he was still very involved in the action. He saw some time on the penalty kill and was playing well defensively at five-on-five, specifically in the neutral zone, where he broke up some Bruins rush attempts. His playmaking was on display, too. There was one royal road pass he made to Vilén when the team was trailing that left Vilén with a wide-open net in a one-time position, but he fired the puck just wide.
It was a good way for Clarke to close out the tournament, but the fact he played in all three games shows that he probably has some work to do to beat out someone like Alexander Holtz — a former top-10 pick — for an NHL roster spot.
Devils Quick Hits
- It took Cam Squires, a fourth-round pick in the 2023 draft, some time to find his legs this tournament, but he put forth his best performance against the Bruins. He hit the crossbar early in the game and scored the tying goal that sparked the Devils’ late-game comeback in the third period. He’ll return to the Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL) for the 2023-24 season and will be one to watch after totaling 30 goals and 64 points with the Eagles in 2022-23.
- Like Squires, Filmon will return to his junior team for the 2023-24 season, but he had a good outing against the Bruins. As mentioned, he had the primary assist on Clarke’s goal, but he was solid off the puck. He should be in line for a big season with the Swift Current Broncos (WHL) after posting 47 goals in 64 games in 2022-23.
- Riley Mercer, the younger brother of Devils forward Dawson Mercer, got the nod in net against the Bruins and played very well. He’s also headed back to his junior team — the Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) — for 2023-24. But he could be someone the Devils have their eyes on as a late-round pick in the 2024 draft or as an undrafted free agent next summer.
Devils veterans report for camp tomorrow and will be on the ice for the first time on Thursday (Sept. 21). Stay tuned to The Hockey Writers for the latest coverage as the 2023-24 season gets underway.