The New Jersey Devils currently have four prospects in the Canadian Hockey League. Three of the four are defensemen, and the lone forward is a converted defender. Three of the four are 2006 draftees, including the Devils’ first-round draft choice, Matthew Corrente.
Matthew Corrente, D, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
HT: 5’11 WT: 189 lbs
Draft: 2006 (1st round, 30th overall)
The Devils first-round draft choice this past June, Corrente had a fantastic NHL training camp and even got into a couple of preseason games where he impressed the team immensely with his play and how composed he looked for a player in his first-ever camp. He was eventually returned to his junior team, the Saginaw Spirit, a team that was expected to contend as one of the best in the OHL. Aside from an early-season suspension by the Spirit for violating team rules, Corrente’s third season in Saginaw with the Spirit has gone relatively well as he has helped lead the team to a league-best 19 wins and 39 points. Through 23 games, Corrente has scored one goal and added 12 assists for 13 points and added a team-high 51 PIM’s for the Spirit. His +15 rating is third-best on the squad and his strong overall play could give Corrente an outside shot at a berth on Team Canada’s entry at the upcoming World Junior Championships. Considered somewhat of a surprising first-round selection by some, so far Corrente has lived up to the billing.
Kyle Henegan, LW, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
HT: 6’4 WT: 204 lbs
Draft: 2006 (7th round, 208th overall)
Drafted as a defenseman, the Devils have converted Henegan into a winger with the intention of possibly grooming him as a future enforcer, despite the trend of enforcers becoming more and more obsolete. Though not expected to ever be much of a point producer, Henegan has already equalled his point total of last season with one goal and six assists for seven points through 26 games with the Cataractes. Part of that is likely due to the fact he now playing up front instead of on the blue line. He has 51 PIM’s, good enough for fourth-most on a Shawinigan team that started quickly, but has cooled off as of late. Considering he is making a position switch after playing his previous two years of junior as a defenseman, Henegan has played relatively well thus far this season. His upside is quite limited in terms of his overall skill level, and the hulking forward will have to keep on working on his skating while also continuing to rely on his imposing size and willingness to mix it up physically as his potential meal ticket to the NHL.
Kirill Tulupov, D, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
HT: 6’3 WT: 220 lbs
Draft: 2006 (3rd round, 67th overall)
Tulupov’s QMJHL debut with Chicoutimi was delayed at the start of the season due to visa problems, but once that got all sorted out, the Russian has been a regular contributor to a struggling Sagueneens hockey team. His adjustment to the CHL has been relatively smooth thus far, and a big reason for that is due to Tulupov’s experience playing in North America the past two seasons with a private club team in Toronto. A third-round draft pick of the Devils at the 2006 NHL Draft, he has yet to score his first junior goal, but through 20 games, Tulupov has chipped in with nine assists, the second highest assist total on the Sagueneens roster. His +1 is third-best on a Chicoutimi team that sits second last in the QMJHL’s west division. He’s also shown a willingness to mix it up as evidenced by his 39 PIM’s. He also just recently participated in the CHL’s now annual ADT Canada/Russia challenge for the Russian team. Tulupov is still very raw at this point in his development, but he is a defender who possesses a lot of upside and so far the big-bodied Russian has looked good early on in his rookie season in the CHL.
Sean Zimmerman, D, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
HT: 6’1 WT: 220 lbs
Draft: 2005 (6th round, 170th overall)
Zimmerman signed a contract with the New Jersey Devils over the summer and attended training camp this past fall, but the Devils opted to return him to the Spokane Chiefs for a fourth junior season. The Devils have a glut of minor pro defensemen and although he got into six AHL games at the tail end of last season, the Devils obviously felt it would be best served for Zimmerman’s development to play another year of junior with the Chiefs. The Denver-born Zimmerman is off to a solid start this year, highlighted by a team-best +10 rating through 24 games. He has tallied four assists and 47 PIM’s, which is the second highest total on the Chiefs thus far. Zimmerman lacks any above average tools, but he makes up for that with a good work ethic. In what will likely be Zimmerman’s last junior season, he will look to finish his junior career on a high note by continuing his steady play and helping lead the Chiefs to a WHL playoff berth.
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.