New Jersey Devils: European 2021 Targets

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New Jersey Devils: Nikita Chibrikov (RW/LW)

Nikita Chibrikov is a February 16th born very skilled and very talented winger. The New Jersey Devils should be very focused on picking him because last year Rodin Amirov was that Russian forward who could drive big plays. Like I mentioned about Isak Rosen is a very fast skater with agility, lateral movement on his edges helps him avoid defenders from knocking him off the puck in flight due to the laws of his lower center of gravity and inertia.

That’s the kind of smart skating Nikita Chibrikov utilizes to his advantage for a 5’10 172 pound winger. For those of you who wanted to knock on Chibrikov, you’d be dead wrong and his fellow countryman Pavel Datsyuk a 5’11” 190-pound center went onto have a very decorated NHL Career.

Like Pavel Datsyuk, I see the heads up passing, and the creativity in tight spaces along with the stickhandling is nothing short of phenomenal. Playing and performing well in the MHL (KHL’s Major Junior League), and the VHL (KHL’s American Hockey League) combining 17 points in 31 games played is a big green flag for me looking for someone slipping to that likely late pick the New Jersey Devils could end up using on him.

New Jersey Devils: Samu Tuomaala (RW)

Samu Tuomaala is projected to go as low as 46 and high as 17th overall. The New Jersey Devils have had scouts in Finland covering guys like Aarne Talvitie, and Eetu Pakkila the past few drafts so it’s safe to say the Tuomaala could also be a nice get-in the late first early second round. He is a very interesting player to draft into the New Jersey Devils system due to his elite vision, his slap shot from mid-low danger has heavy velocity. Another trait he has is when to pass when the other team isn’t fundamentally defensively sound.

The young man is a finisher and the New Jersey Devils should consider him in the second round later first round. Samu knows how to pick corners with that quick wrist shot of his as you see above in the video. He is a right-winger who can absolutely bud into a young stud in the NHL and no need to rush him because he just got promoted from Karpat’s U-20 team to Liiga to play on Karpat.

New Jersey Devils: Samuel Helenius (C)

Sticking with the theme of Finnish players but one of the key things the New Jersey Devils need to have a big-bodied, physical player that can help win puck battles in all facets of the game. Samuel Helenius is that guy who can be a grinder and playmaker that chips in when his team needs him most. Using that 6’6” 201-pound frame Helenius would be another big center option since the Devils drafted Jaromir Pytlik from the Soo Greyhounds and the Czech National Team in the 2020 NHL Draft.

I like that he uses his reach on the penalty kill and the New Jersey Devils should watch him between 54th through 79th overall. He’s the kind of guy I can see bolstering a Devils even strength and penalty kill on a 3rd line and at times play on the 2nd line. For a guy his size, he has above-average speed, and he also is very good at the takeaway game, and the more he keeps doing that and ends up for a team like the New Jersey Devils.

Just imagine how lethal the Devils will be rolling 3 to 4 lines a night and having a forward that can not only do the meat and potatoes work but also do the clutch stuff when needed most by his team.

New Jersey Devils: Kirill Gerasimyuk (G)

As I noted in my recent article, the New Jersey Devils will likely select another goalie, but in the later rounds. What I noticed a lot in Kirill Gerasimyuk’s game reading the puck below his own defenders and the opponents creating traffic on top of it. He is absolutely fine-tuned laterally and knows how to use his angles to his advantage. Tom Fitzgerald’s goaltending crew can work on him with the funny shots that flutter off the blocker and other parts of his upper area. I really like his aggressive play pushing opponents out of his sights and being aggressive in the net.

Kirill knows how to bail out his defense especially on a penalty kill where a puck could have moved a bit closer to the goal line and become an easy tap-in. Those kinds of goals are eaten by Kirill like a shark hungry for dinner. In a conversation, I had with Steve Kournianos via Twitter about the development of Russian goaltending being so high caliber he went to say that “Russian goalies are en vogue and deservedly so. Shorter development track but usually limited to big programs like SKA, CSKA, Dynamo, etc.”– Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst Podcast.

Kirill has averaged 2 shutouts per season in the past 2 seasons in the MHL (4 total) and has performed rather well at the VHL level. The more Gerasimyuk uses his lower body of gravity and uses those very solid reflexes and keeps developing in Russia I can see a mid 80’s pick the Devils might consider taking.


Draft Day Summary

To be fair I do see a good portion of these European players being available on July 23rd and 24th that the New Jersey Devils could end up one or a few of these players. I like Gerasimyuk’s game in that he’s a 6’2 goalie and he is with an excellent feeder system to the KHL and a promising future. Samuel Helenius is a guy I would love to see the Devils have to be that big boy that rivals in the eastern conference and western Conference will have to deal with on a game-to-game basis.

Samu Tuomaala is a really great option I see in the early rounds and someone who would excite me from a writer’s perspective and the scouting side and the ability to be a real sharpshooter. His vision and his finish are something to drool for in the early rounds. Nikita Chibrikov is a player that I highly consider going after and the New Jersey Devils scouts in the KHL should be familiar with him after watching Arseni Gritsyuk, Shakir Mukhamadullin, and even Daniil Misyul over the past few seasons.

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Former writer for Pucks and Pitchforks and The Puck Authority. I cover New Jersey Devils hockey and NHL Draft prospects. I have a podcast called Heads Up Hockey on Anchor.fm Also I write for Full Press Hockey.