This season started on a much better note for Burlon, just given that he was able to start the year on time after missing a handful of games early last year. However, the difference is that Burlon, like the majority of his Michigan teammates were very slow out of the gate. He was held to a paltry three points in Michigan’s first 19 games, but in his last nine games, he has started to find his groove, recording six points over that span. On the season thus far, Burlon has recorded two goals and seven assists to go along with a +5 rating in 28 games.
Though his numbers may be a little off this year compared to last, he has shown improvements in other areas of his game, helping round him into a better all-around defenseman. Most notably, he has simplified his game, which has led to better defensive positioning. He has also learned to use his outstanding mobility to defend better in the transition game. Burlon is just 19 and still has plenty of development time left ahead of him. As noted earlier, he is developing into a well-rounded blueliner with top-notch puck-handling skills. The Devils do have the luxury of not having to rush him, given more mature defense prospects ahead of him. He’s a few years away from reaching the NHL, but he will be there in the not too distant future.
As a senior, a lot was expected out of Fayne, and though Providence has hit the skids somewhat after a fantastic start, Fayne has had an exceptional season so far, emerging as a leader and workhorse for the Friars. Most nights, Fayne is playing about 25-30 minutes a game. He currently sits third in team scoring and has already surpassed his career high in points, with four goals and 12 assists through 25 games, to go along with a respectable -2 rating. His 12 assists are tops on the team. He has spent the majority of the season partnered with freshman Alex Velischek (PIT), helping him learn the ropes.
Fayne has been physically ready to turn pro for quite some time, however, the Devils decision to leave him at Providence for his full four years of college eligibility appears to have paid major dividends for Fayne and his overall development. This season, the most impressive aspect of his play is just his overall consistency considering the major minutes he has been eating up for the Friars. The 6’3, 220 lb blueliner doesn’t have a high ceiling, but looks to be turning into a fine bottom-pairing defense prospect. The Devils will likely sign him at the end of the college season so he can begin his foray into pro hockey next year.
Corbin McPherson, D, 21
McPherson had a steady, yet unspectacular freshman season for Colgate last year, and has continued his strong play into 2009-10 as he is slowly beginning to blossom as a reliable, defensive stalwart on the Red Raiders blueline. Through 24 games, McPherson has already surpassed his offensive output from last year, with two goals and five assists. He has also posted an impressive +8 rating that is tied for second best on the club.
The 6’4, 210 lb McPherson skates extremely well for his size. He is an imposing figure to say the least, and as he continues to fill out and pack on some muscle to his frame, he will become that much more intimidating. He will likely never become a big point producer, but his poise with the puck is vastly improved this season. It has also led to McPherson shooting more and becoming more patient with his puck distribution skills. He is continually improving his defensive skills as well, and the Devils may have themselves a sleeper prospect on the blueline. He’ll likely spend at least one more season at Colgate, and possibly even play the full four years with the Red Raiders before turning pro.
Hoeffel has really come into his own as a junior with the Golden Gophers this season, emerging into one of the best and most exciting players in the WCHA. Hoeffel sits third on the team in scoring with 18 points, but leads the team in many statistical categories. His 11 goals, four power-play makers, three game-winning goals and +6 rating all are tops on the team. He has also shown a knack for scoring clutch goals. A bout of pneumonia currently has him sidelined though, and he’s likely to miss at least a couple more weeks before returning to action.
After two up and down years at the Minnesota, Hoeffel has shown much more consistency this year, and as a result is starting to justify the Devils choice to select him in the second round of the 2007 draft. He has always had a good work ethic and been solid defensively, but it has been his willingness to shoot the puck, combined with more quality shots on goal that has helped lead to his offensive breakthrough and being a more complete player. He projects as a tenacious, strong-skating, two-way player at the next level. Hoeffel is probably ready to turn pro after this season, but the Devils may also choose to keep him with the Golden Gophers for his full collegiate eligibility as well.
Miller has bounced back in his senior season for the Wildcats, after a disastrous junior season that saw him try to play though a hip injury and ended his season prematurely. On a young team, Miller has provided solid leadership from the back end, while posting good numbers through 26 games. He has recorded four goals and eight assists, to go along with a team-best +13 rating. He’s also added 20 PIM’s, showing an added element of grit that wasn’t often evident over his time with NMU.
He doesn’t get the fanfare that other prospects in the organization get, but Miller’s overall package of size and skills are hard to ignore. The 6’4, 220 lb defenseman has shown marked improvement in his overall mobility this year, which has led to him being more involved in the play at both ends of the rink. Though his numbers aren’t eye-catching, he has an underrated offensive skill set. His development curve is back on an upward slope now that he is back to full health, and the Devils will likely sign Miller at the end of the season so he can begin his pro career next year. He may need a season or two in the AHL, but he could be a prospect who surprises once he proves he’s ready for the next step.
In his senior season at Colgate, McIntyre has continued to dominate most nights and pace the Red Raiders offensive attack, much like he did last season when he had 43 points. The co-captain sits second on the team in points, scoring at just over a point-per-game clip, with eight goals and 19 assists through 24 games. His 19 assists are tied for best on the team. He also leads the club with 40 PIM’s and has one of the best plus/minus ratings on the team with a +7. He has shown great playmaking ability this year, perhaps the best of his collegiate career.
After being traded three times over the course of last season, McIntyre has managed to stick with one NHL organization this year. He attended the Devils prospect camp over the summer, where he showed off his gritty, well-rounded game. He done nothing but improve over the course of his collegiate career, and despite his goal-scoring numbers being slightly off pace from last year, he is still an offensive force night in and night out and has the ability to score timely goals. Perhaps one of the more underrated prospects in the system, McIntyre has an intriguing package of all-around skills and should make a good pro.
Wohlberg had a tough act to follow after a sensational freshman season that saw him record 30 points in 40 games, and much like his fellow Devils prospect and Michigan teammate Burlon, struggled out of the gate this season. He has, however, really started to find his stride in the second half of the season. With five goals and 12 assists through 27 games, he’s become more creative in his playmaking ability. Somewhat surprisingly, he leads the team with 50 PIM’s as well. He’s played with a variety of linemates thus far this season and has spent most of his time playing on left wing, though he has also played up the middle a few times as well. Wohlberg had an opportunity to make the U.S. World Junior team, however, was unable to make the final cut on a team that eventually brought home the gold medal.
It was somewhat of a surprise at how quickly Wohlberg came on last season, so maybe it’s not as huge a surprise that his numbers have slipped somewhat. He still is a very well-rounded prospect though, with an outstanding work ethic and an element of grit to his game. There have also been subtle improvements in his game this year, such as using his stronger physique to play more physically and take the puck to the net, which has also led to improved body positioning while carrying the puck. With that all said, he has a future in New Jersey, just maybe as more of a role-playing checker than the goal scorer he is in college.
Seth Helgeson, D, 18
Freshman, University of Minnesota
Though he has yet to record his first collegiate point, Helgeson has become a solid contributor for the Golden Gophers as a freshman. He doesn’t play a flashy game by any stretch, instead choosing to let his physical play do the talking. He has played in 22 games for the Golden Gophers so far this season and has posted 14 PIM’s and a +1 rating.
A work in progress, the hulking 6’5, 220-pound Helgeson has kept his game simple in his freshman year which has allowed him to not only make the transition to the college game from the USHL smoother, but also develop in other areas as well. He thrives playing a robust, physical style of play, and as he continues to strengthen his gargantuan frame, he will become quite a force to be reckoned with. Helgeson is a good skater and though he hasn’t shown it much this year, has decent puck skills which will likely come as he matures as a player. Far from turning pro, Helgeson will be given plenty of development time, and projects a big, physical No. 5 or 6 defenseman.