New Jersey Devils
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The Devils’ six prospects fared quite well in the high-profile tournament.

The 2020-21 World Junior Hockey Championship has come to an end, with Team USA bringing home the gold. The New Jersey Devils were represented by a significant number of prospects (six, to be exact) from multiple countries.

Overall, the organization has a great deal to be proud of. The youngsters played with heart and did very well.

Let’s take a closer look at how each prospect performed on the big stage.

Arseni Gritsyuk (LW, Russia)

Drafted: 2019; Round 5, Pick 129

Arseni Gritsyuk did not play in Russia’s bronze medal game after getting banged up a bit the night before, but the Devils organization as well as the fan base had to have liked what they saw from the 19-year-old left winger.

Gritsyuk played in six games for Russia this tournament, averaging 12:37 a game and recording a total of four points, coming in the form of a goal and three assists.

Gritsyuk wasn’t just impressive in the World Juniors, he was one of Team Russia’s standout players. His best game came in Russia’s 7-1 blowout against Austria in the group stage.

One of Gritsyuk’s most praise-worthy strengths is that he plays hard on the puck, and that was evident in his secondary assist on Russia’s sixth goal of the game, when he inflicted a hit near the boards in order to control the puck.

His goal, which happened to be the only goal he scored in the tournament, and the last of Russia’s seven was a killer wrister late in the third period.

Gritsyuk has been praised for the improvement he’s exhibited in his play since being drafted, and that was evident during the tournament.

Another one of his most prominent strengths has been his play along the boards, and that was on full display in the World Juniors.

His second assist, a secondary assist on Russia’s first goal against Sweden, came along the boards when he fought diligently to maintain control of the puck.

Gritsyuk made a similar play on Russia’s second goal in the quarterfinals against Germany, when he took the puck along the boards and ended up recording another secondary assist.

At 5’10”, 174 lbs., Gritsyuk is small but plays very hard and was extremely impressive throughout the tournament, especially for a fifth-round pick. His chances of making the NHL will continue to rise if he’s capable of regularly improving his game.

Alexander Holtz (RW, Sweden)

Drafted: 2020; Round 1, Pick 7

Eyes were on Alexander Holtz, the Devils’ first pick of the 2020 draft, during the tournament, and he was effective, but a little unlucky.

Holtz is praised for being a high-scoring sharpshooter who isn’t afraid to take a shot, which is what makes him so dangerous all over the offensive zone.

That readiness to shoot was on full display in the tournament, when Holtz averaged 5.2 shots per game.

In five games, the 18-year-old winger averaged 18:41 a game, and scored three points (one goal and two assists), but did serve six penalty minutes.

Scoring just one goal on so many shots is evidence that Holtz ran into bad luck more than once, but he was, undoubtedly, one of Sweden’s most impactful players.

Holtz recorded his first point of the season in Sweden’s 4-0 shutout of Austria, the primary assist on the team’s final goal.

Holtz did all the work on that goal, making nice moves to control the puck and finishing it off with a fantastic and intelligent pass to Lucas Raymond, who simply had to put it in the net.

Holtz’s best game of the tournament came against Russia. Sweden did end up losing the game in overtime, but Holtz was the team’s best player.

Holtz tied the game at two in the second period, but there isn’t too much to say about that goal. He had an open chance to score but shot the puck wide.

He was able to get the rebound but, one of his few lucky chances this tournament, shot the puck, which bounced off Russian goalie Yaroslav Askarov’s skate into the net.

Holtz then was able to notch the primary assist on the goal that sent the game to overtime with one minute left. Of course, this assist came in the form of a shot that was deflected into the net by his teammate, Noel Gunler.

This was just another instance of the effectiveness of Holtz’s shot.

A positive that we saw in Holtz’s game, other than the fact that he had an all-around solid tournament, is his ability to be a successful playmaker and not just a sharpshooter.

If he spends the year refining his talent, he should have no problem making his way to New Jersey next season.

Dawson Mercer (C/RW, Canada)

Drafted: 2020; Round 1, Pick 18

Dawson Mercer was the Devils’ second pick of the 2020 draft, and expectations are high for him. The 19-year-old didn’t disappoint in the World Juniors.

One can argue that Mercer was one of Canada’s most standout players and for a team as stacked as this, that’s incredibly impressive.

Mercer recorded six points in seven games (two goals and four assists) and served two penalty minutes. He proved to be a solid two-way player, capable of putting up points but of also holding his own defensively.

He was also noticeably good on the penalty kill and proved to be a fantastic forechecker. Throughout the World Juniors, Mercer showed off his incredible motor that never seems to run out, as well as his elite vision and playmaking.

Mercer didn’t need to take any time to get adjusted in the tournament. He came out firing in Canada’s opening game against Germany, when they won 16-2.

Mercer showed off his hustle as well as his ability on the penalty kill early on, when he scored an unassisted, short-handed goal in the first period to put Canada up 2-0.

He didn’t care that Germany had the puck in their own end. He hustled to the other end to strip Germany’s goalie of the puck and score in a wrap-around.

Mercer went on to score the first goal of the second period, a beautiful wrister in front of the net.

He then had the sole assist on Canada’s next goal. This goal, like Mercer’s first, was also the result of a goaltending mishap that Mercer was smart enough to take advantage of.

Mercer wasn’t finished, recording yet another assist on Canada’s ninth goal. In this case, Mercer’s hustle and ability to take control were evident. He was able to win the battle for the puck along the boards, allowing him to earn a secondary assist on the goal.

Mercer had another assist in Canada’s next game, a secondary assist on Canada’s first goal. He attempted a shot on goal that was saved but his teammate, Philip Tomasino, was able to get the rebound to Jordan Spence, who ended up scoring.

Mercer recorded his third secondary assist of the tournament on Canada’s fourth goal of their semifinal five goal shutout against Russia. Mercer was brilliant up and down the ice on that goal.

He made a beautiful defensive play that allowed him to take the puck from the Russians and when he received the puck in Russia’s zone, he was able to maintain control of the puck behind the net and deliver an important pass to his teammate, Ryan Suzuki.

That goal epitomized Mercer’s ability as an effective two-way forward.

Mercer was arguably the Devils’ most impressive prospect in the World Juniors and will surely make the team relatively soon and live up to the hype if he continues this fantastic play.

Patrick Moynihan (C, USA)

Drafted: 2019; Round 6, Pick 158

Patrick Moynihan wasn’t a standout player in the tournament, but he was solid and made his fair share of contributions. Moynihan played in just five of team USA’s games but did record two assists, both of which came in USA’s 11-0 win over Austria.

Both were secondary assists that Moynihan recorded in the third period. Moynihan is listed as a centerman, but was almost exclusively used as a right winger in the World Juniors.

His pass to Tyler Kleven on USA’s ninth goal ended up being a secondary assist.

Moynihan would go on to have another secondary assist on USA’s next goal. He made a nice pass behind him to Trevor Zegras, who brilliantly got the puck over to Matthew Boldy.

Unfortunately, Moynihan fell victim to a dirty hit to the head at the end of the third that saw him miss a few games, but he was able to return later in the tournament.

Moynihan, had been praised for his ability to be a solid producer in the bottom-six, but for also being able to contribute with top forwards. He proved that in the World Juniors when he was given the chance to play in the top-six on several occasions.

Moynihan, who will turn twenty in a few short weeks, still has room to grow, but what viewers saw from him in this tournament was definitely promising.

Shakir Mukhamadullin (LHD, Russia)

Drafted: 2020; Round 1, Pick 20

Shakir Mukhamadullin being taken in the first round was one of the most puzzling selections of the 2020 draft. He had a decent tournament and wasn’t special, but viewers learned a great deal by watching him play.

Mukhamadullin was featured in all seven of Russia’s games, but didn’t record any points. He was, however, used quite a lot and that’s what allowed us to learn more about his game.

Mukhamadullin, impressively, was excellent in transition. In fact, he was one of the best defensemen in the tournament in that category. He also displayed some upside as a potential offensive defenseman who isn’t afraid to make plays and take shots.

However, if something is going to keep Mukhamadullin from making the NHL anytime soon, it’s his defensive play. He made grave mistakes on more than one occasion in that regard and got burned one too many times.

An undeniable part of that is the fact that he hasn’t grown into his frame yet. Mukhamadullin stands at 6’4”, but is quite slim and must build muscle if he hopes to have a greater defensive impact in games.

Bulking up is assuredly the first step on Mukhamadullin’s path to becoming a solid defensive defenseman. He’s a raw talent, but the skill and potential are both there.

Jaromir Pytlik (C, Czech Republic)

Drafted: 2020; Round 4, Pick 99

Last but not least is Jaromir Pytlik.

Pytlik, who is 19 years old, played in just one game for the Czech Republic in the World Juniors and although this tournament is nowhere near sufficient to provide us with an accurate judgement, he did look good in his sole appearance.

Pytlik played in the Czech Republic’s first game of the season, when they lost 7-1 to Sweden. He was able to record the primary assist on the team’s first and only goal of the game.

Pytlik gave a nice, clean pass to the goal scorer, Jan Mysak, on a tic-tac-toe powerplay.

Pytlik is another Devils prospect who has time and room to improve, but is expected to be a solid two-way center.

The Devils organization and fanbase have much to be optimistic about. The Devils had many prospects in the tournament and they all showed why the organization liked them enough to draft them.

From lower round selections like Gritsyuk and Moynihan to future stars like Holtz and Mercer, the future in New Jersey is bright.

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