New Jersey Devils Prospects Updated

By Jared Ramsden

New Jersey Devils Prospects Updated

Newcomers- D Mikko Jokela(13), D Viktor Uchevatov(19), LW Andrei Posnov(20)

Biggest Jump- D Paul Martin: From 12th to 6th

Biggest Fall- RW Temmu Laine: From 5th to 10th

Dealt Away- RW Anton But, D Sascha Goc, D Josef Boumedienne

Permanent NHL Jobs- D Mike Commodore, G JF Damphousse

New Top 20 Prospect List

Stats through games of January 24th, 2002

1) G, Ari Ahonen (8.5), Albany (AHL)

Notes: The Finnish netminder is currently in his 1st pro season. He has split the goaltending chores with fellow prospect Scott Clemmensen. Even though he has only won 4 games so far in Albany, he has a respectable GAA of 2.91 and a sparkling SV% of .914 for a weak Albany squad. Ahonen is able to keep his team in many games that they shouldn’t be in. Has had to face 35 to 40 shots on many occasions. Quick and agile, Ari is the goalie of the future for the Devils

2) LW/RW, Christian Berglund (8), New Jersey (NHL)

Notes: The gritty Swedish winger has adapted to the North American game with ease. Started the season in Albany where he posted 23 points (9 goals and 14 assists). He was called up on January 9th for his first NHL game and has made a big impression in the swamp with 6 points through his first 9 NHL games. Berglund plays a strong two way game, and is not afraid to crash and bang in the corners. He should stick in New Jersey for the rest of the season and should be a mainstay for years to come.

3) RW, Brian Gionta (8), New Jersey (NHL)

Notes: The 5’7, 160 pound Gionta has adjusted quickly to the pro game despite concerns that he would have problems with the bigger and stronger players. He was recalled for a second taste of the NHL last week from Albany and has scored 1 goal in 5 games. Brian led Albany in most offensive categories before his last recall, including 11 goals and a total of 23 points. The speedy and shifty winger reminds some of Theo Fleury, and he has the potential to match those expectations and the NHL level.

4) D, David Hale (7), North Dakota (NCAA)

Notes:Although North Dakota is struggling this year, David is having another solid season with the Fighting Sioux. He is one of their top three defensemen and
coach Dean Blais looks to Hale for strong play and stability in the defensive zone. Hale is not having the greatest success posting excellent offensive numbers, however, he leads his team with 41 penalty minutes. Hale’s strengths are really coming out this year, as his ice time has increased. David still remains as a physical force in the corners and clearing in front of the net. David has received a lot of time on the kill and is developing his puck
carrying skills. Look for David to have another two strong years in the WCHA before joining the Devils to replace Scott Stevens.

5) C/LW, Adrian Foster (7), Brandon (WHL)

Notes: The Devils shocked many by drafting Adrian with their first round pick in this years draft, but it has become clear that they knew what they were doing. Adrian spent the first couple of months of the hockey season in New Jersey rehabbing his abdominal/groin injury that had limited him to less than 20 WHL games the last two seasons. Although he has missed a few games since returning to junior, he has been a star when in the line-up. In 17 games, he has scored at a point a game clip, including a whopping 13 goals. His numbers should improve to greater heights after being dealt to a stronger Brandon Wheat Kings club. Foster’s vision, quickness and slick passing skills should easily get him to the NHL down the road. The only long term concern right now is his helath.

6) D, Paul Martin (7), Minnesota (NCAA)

Notes:Paul Martin has never heard of a sophomore jinx and he is proving it this season with the Golden Gophers. Paul is leading all defensemen on his team in points
(31), is second on the team with 25 assists and third overall in scoring. Paul is proving himself to be one of the top offensive blueliners in the WCHA. Martin is a fixture on the powerplay with two powerplay tallies and several assists. Paul has appeared in all 26 games this season and is considered their number 2 defensemen behind senior sensation Jordan Leopold. The Gophers are having an unexpected great season and don’t be surprised to see them in the Frozen Four with Martin leading the way.

7) RW, Alexander Suglobov (6.5), Yaroslavl (Russia)

Notes:A relative unknown when drafted in the second round of the 2000 draft by the Devils, Alex has shot up the Devils prospect list. He recently played on the World Junior Champion Russian’s were he scored 1 goal in 7 games. Despite seeing limited ice time in the tournament, it will surely benefit him down the road. So far for his Russian League club Yaroslavl, he has scored 2 goals in 17 games, again seeing limited ice time. At the World Juniors, Suglobov showed off his above average speed and deceptive shot. More will be known on Alex’s future with the Devils when he finishes his tenure in Russia.

8) G, Scott Clemmensen (6.5), Albany (AHL)

Notes: Scott surprised many by beating out current Devils back-up JF Damphousse to be Brodeur’s caddy to begin the season, but he saw limited action(only 20 minutes worth of relief work) and was sent back to Albany early on to get playing time and pro experience. Scott has a great work ethic and has fared well in Albany(5 wins, 3.13 GAA, .907 Sv%) despite having a young and inexperienced defense in front of him. He has already surprised many by getting this far, and to see him in the NHL within the next few years would not be a shock.

9) LW, Tuomas Pihlman (6.5), JYP Jyvaskyla(Finland)

Notes: One of the Devils 3 second round picks in the 2001 draft, Tuomas has had a very solid season over in Finland. Tuomas currently has 7 points, including 6 goals through 28 games for JYP. He has also put up 67 minutes in penalties, showing that he is not afraid to mix it up. At the World Juniors, he put up 2 goals and 2 assists in 7 games for the Bronze winning Finnish team. Philman plays a rugged two way game, which should put him in good standing with New Jersey. Will probably play a few more seasons over in Europe before coming to North America.

10) RW, Temmu Laine (6.5), Jokerit (Finland)

Notes: The pesky Laine has struggled to find his scoring touch in the Senior League as indicated by his 1 assist in 27 games. Upon returning to the Junior Club, he has posted totals of 6 goals and 4 assists in 9 games, showing that he does indeed have a scoring touch. Laine is considered to be one of the best skaters in Finland, and it appears he will need time to mature. A Devils second round pick in 2000, Laine’s strong two way play will give him a shot an NHL job, but not for at least another 3 to 4 years.

11) C, Scott Cameron (5.5), Albany (AHL)

Notes: After putting up 37 goals and 80 points in his final OHL season in North Bay, Scott has so far not been able to produce much offense at the pro level, but that was to be expected. He has put up modest totals of 2 goals, 5 assists for 7 points in 26 games, but he is still young and we have to remember that this is his first full pro season. Scott will need quite a bit of time to develop in Albany, but the potential for success in the NHL in the future is not out of the question

12) D, Matt DeMarchi (6), Minnesota (NCAA)

Notes: After a rough start early in the season, Matt has recovered nicely from a bad ankle injury and is back in old form. Matt remains as Minnesota’s defensive
toughman, mostly paired with Jordan Leopold to give him the room he needs. Appearing in 18 games thus far, Matt has tallied one goal, four assists and 58 penalty minutes. Matt is in his junior season with the Gophers and remains an essential part of the team with his
grit and physical play, especially down low. The 6’3”, 185 pound DeMarchi was selected 57th overall in the 2000 draft.


13) D, Mikko Jokela (5.5), Albany (AHL)

Notes:In his first pro season, Mikko has fared very well on a young core of River Rat defencemen. After starting the season slowly, Mikko has turned up his offensive game as of late and is one of the top scoring Albany blueliners with 4 goals and 13 points in 37 games. The 6’1, 215 pound defenceman will need more development time in Albany, but he is showing the Devils that he has NHL potential down the road.

14) LW, Brett Clouthier (5), Albany (AHL)

Notes: This rough and tumble winger, like many of his other Rat teammates, is also in his first pro season after graduating from the OHL’s Kingston squad. Brett has posted 2 goals and 80 PIM’s through his first 30 AHL games this season. While Brett did show a scoring touch in junior, it may take a few seasons for him to find it at the AHL level. However, Brett does possess the skills and measurements, (6’4, 215) to become an NHL enforcer. Brett will still have to round out the rest of his game before he is given a shot with the big club.

15) LW, Max Birbraer (5), Albany (AHL)

Notes: This is Max’s second pro season after being a third round pick by New Jersey in 2000. Max got off to a very slow start offensively, but has picked it up as of late. He currently has 6 goals and 7 assists in 40 games. Max has been through a lot in his life, so we know that he definitely has the character to make to the NHL level. However, there is still room for him to grow before he gets a chance in New Jersey.

16) C, Igor Pohanka (4.5), Prince Albert (WHL)

Notes: A Devils second round selection in last years draft, Igor has put up very good offensive totals for the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. So far, Igor has scored at a point a game clip(15 goals, 21 assists for 36 points in 36 games), and he also picked up 5 assists and posted a solid +6 rating for his native Slovakia at the World Juniors. Igor dazzles with his puck skills but he needs to work on his defensive play. He also tends to float around and does not like to grind it out along the board. He obviously has a lot of work to do before he reaches the swamp, but the Devils will give the offensively gifted Pohanka plenty of time to develop.

17) C, Chris Hartsburg (4.5), Colorado College(NCAA)

Notes: The Tigers of Colorado College are having a great year, currently third in the WCHA points standings. Chris Hartsburg, selected in the 1999 entry draft, his in his final season in the collegiate ranks and making the best of it. Chris has scored seven goals and five assists, including three power play tallies and a short-handed goal. Chris, mostly known for his defensive play and gritty style, has scored most of his career goals on the power play and his is a permanent fixture on the kill. After this season, look
for Chris to become part of the River Rats, as Coach Carpenter will welcome his defensive style and strong work ethic.

18) RW, Mike Rupp (4.5), Albany (AHL)

Notes: A one time former first round selection by the Islanders, Rupp is in his second AHL season, and is like most of his young Rat teammates, has struggled offensively this season. The 6’5 power winger has put up 9 goals and 11 assists so far in 41 games. Mike has NHL size, but he still needs a lot of time in Albany, as it usually takes power wingers longer to develop. We won’t know for a few years if Mike will make an impact at the NHL level, but the Devils are hoping that he can.

19) D, Viktor Uchevatov (4.5), Albany (AHL)

Notes: Many were surprised the Viktor came to North America so quickly, but the 2001 2nd rounder will probably develop better here, rather than in Russia. In 33 games with the River Rats, Viktor has 1 assist and has a very respectable –2 +/- rating. Viktor is a solid stay at home defender who is developing just as the Devils had hoped.

20) LW, Andrei Posnov (4), Soviet Wings (Russia)

Notes: Not much is known of Andrei, but the 4th round 2001 pick has scored 6 goals and 3 assists in 24 games for his Russian League squad this season. The Devils have had luck with drafting relative unkown Russian’s lately, and will be content to let him develop in Russia for a few more years.

Credit to Andrew Clark for the Hale, Martin, DeMarchi and Hartsburg notes and to “left wing” from Hockey’s Future Finnish message board for the Laine notes.