Training camp will officially begin for the 2021-22 New Jersey Devils season in just a few short weeks. Many interesting new faces will be at training camp, like Dougie Hamilton, Jonathan Bernier, and Tomas Tatar. However, the training camp will feature some rookies who could be available during the season. These Devils rookies were drafted by them a year ago. These rookies would provide the Devils will holes they still need to fill.
So, which of the rookies could make the Devils team this year?
Alexander Holtz: Looking to Bounce Back After Substandard Showing with Binghamton Devils
Despite being drafted by the Devils in the first round last year, Alexander Holtz had only one year left on his Djurgardens IF contract. During that year, Holtz scored seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 40 games. In the ten games he played with the Binghamton Devils, he scored only three points. Holtz would play with the Sweden team during the 2021 World Junior Hockey Under 20 Championships. Just like in Binghamton, he would also score three points in 10 games. Right now, he could come up to Devils training camp to see if he can make the roster.
Adding Holtz to the Devils would give the team the sniper they need. Holtz is known for his shot, and when it works, he can produce many points in a season. Holtz works as a finisher because of that shot and his ability to get away from his opponent. So, which are the best players for Holtz to pair up with if he makes the team? If Holtz wanted the best players to help him gain points, Holtz would most likely get paired with guys like Jesper Bratt and Ty Smith, who had the team totals in assists this year. Holtz could potentially be one of the few prospects people will get excited for if he makes the team.
Dawson Mecer: Impressive Showing at World Junior Under 20s
Dawson Mercer was selected as the 18th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. After he was drafted, he went back to play in the QMJHL. Holtz had a great season when he played with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the 2020-2021 season. Holtz scored 19 goals and 17 assists during that season to have an impressive 36 points in 23 games. When the Chicoutimi Sagueneens went to the playoffs that year, he scored six goals and 11 assists that year, scoring 17 points in the nine games he played. When he went to the 2021 World Junior Hockey Under 20 Championships, Mercer scored six points in seven games, scoring two goals and four assists on Team Canada.
So how could Mercer impressive Ruff, Fitzgerald, and the other Devils coaches at training camp? Well, he is undoubtedly a great skater as he can skate in the offensive zone well. Mercer is also a great playmaker. Mercer can adjust his body to create chances for himself and other teammates. So who could work on a line with Mercer to get the best results? If he makes the team, I say pair him up with guys like Pavel Zacha and Miles Wood. Both Wood and Zacha have improved their game and were some of the best player’s last season. If both continue to play great and Mercer makes the team, we could see a great line between these 3.
Nicolas Daws: Improving in Three Seasons with Guelph Storm
The New Jersey Devils drafted Nicolas Daws with the 68th pick in the 2020 NHL draft. Daws played in the OHL for three years with the Guelph Storm. Despite playing poorly in his first season with the Storm, he improved amazingly. During the 2019-2020 season with the Storm, Daws became the best goaltender in the OHL. Daws had a .924 save percentage and a 2.48 GAA that year. However, when he went to play for Team Canada at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Under 20 Championships, he did struggle as he put up a 5.83 GAA and a .840 save percentage in two games. When Daws went back to Germany, Daws played for ERC Ingolstadt in the DEL. During the 2020-21 season for ERC Ingolstadt, he did put up a record of 4-6, which isn’t great. However, Daws did allow only 2.90 GAA and had a .898 save percentage. Daws did get in the top 20 in terms of goaltenders in the DEL.
So, if Nico Daws does come to Devils training camp, does he come up to play with the Devils? That is certainly a tricky question. Daws’s stats show he can be good, but he needs to remain consistent. Right now, once he gets to training camp, the important thing is to impress the coaches. Now that Jonathan Bernier will be a backup goalie, it’s most likely he won’t make the team at the start of the year. But will he make the team during the 2021-2022 season? It’s certainly a possibility as Daws could be a backup goalie if Bernier or Mackenzie Blackwood gets injured this year. However, if the coaches want to see what he can do, he could come up to the Binghamton Devils in the AHL. Daws is undoubtedly a player to look out for in the future of the goalies for the Devils.
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