Examining the New Jersey Devils' potential late bloomers
From Arseni Gritsyuk to Topias Vilen, JP Gambatese took a closer look at some late bloomers who could help the Devils down the road.
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By JP Gambatese (@JP_Gambatese)
Heading into the 2023-24 season, nothing should really be on the New Jersey Devils’ minds except winning now.
With that said, there are a handful of prospects in the system that I wouldn’t be surprised to see become late-blooming quality additions for the team down the line.
For this list, I will not be including prospects drafted in the first couple rounds. That means no Alex Holtz, despite his years of development, or Seamus Casey, who might be better served transitioning to forward and going through another year or two of development in that role.
Let’s start the list with the most obvious player who fits this criteria:
Drafted in the 5th round in 2019, Gritsyuk has made a pretty big name of himself in the KHL, earning himself a spot alongside Matvei Michkov and Ivan Demidov at the Sochi Open with his new squad, SKA St. Petersburg.
In his previous years in the KHL, Gritsyuk was with Avangard Omsk, where he potted 31 goals and 68 points in 105 games, good for right around 0.65 points per game. He also earned the title of the KHL’s rookie of the year in 2021-22.
He’s only 5’11’ but he’s built well, weighing in at a more-than-sturdy 192 pounds. He has developed lightning-fast acceleration, allowing him to reach his above-average top speed very quickly. He is also quite the shooting threat. Apart from his skating prowess and wicked shot, he doesn’t shy away from contact and is often outworking his opponents to get the puck back in the o-zone.
Gritsyuk’s agent straight up said that the plan is for him to venture over to New Jersey after his KHL contract expires in 2024-25. Devils fans should look forward to meeting a shiny, new, middle-six scoring threat in the near future.
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