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PROSPECT WATCH: Walsh Continues Upward Trajectory

Steady year-over-year progression defined Reilly Walsh's collegiate career, and now he sets his sights on his next obstacle: making it to the NHL

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

It seemed like a perfect fit in the otherwise imperfect hockey world that existed last summer.

"I tried to take the positives out of the situation," said Reilly Walsh, the 21-year-old Binghamton Devils defenseman who is playing in his rookie professional season with the big club's American Hockey League affiliate. "But (the circumstances of the pandemic) ended up being beneficial for me to (turn pro early)."

Video: VERIZON TOP PLAYS | Walsh Goes Coast to Coast

Walsh's decision to sign with the Devils last summer would have been a pleasant development in any case. With COVID-19 cases spiking last August and Harvard University, where he was about to start his senior season, announcing that fall season sports would be delayed until at least January, the decision for Walsh was pretty much automatic.

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PROSPECT WATCH: Foote Focused on Improvement

What's the goal for Nolan Foote in Binghamton right now? Get better every game. Read up on Foote in our Prospect Watch presented by Verizon.

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

A wise hockey man once summed up an unassailable fact about the never-ending prospect wheel.

"Every year we get older but the new players stay the same age."

One of those new, young faces on the Binghamton Devils right now has a familiar ring to it: Nolan Foote.

The 20-year-old rookie pro is notable for a few reasons. First, the 6'4", 200-pound power forward is an enticing prospect and currently is tied as the B-Devils leading-scoring forward with a goal and three assists in five games.

Foote is a big body with tremendous puck skills and shot, good full-stride speed and improving first-steps quickness.

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PROSPECT WATCH: Mercer Coping with the Unusual

Devils prospect Dawson Mercer has dealt with adversity in the most unusual of hockey seasons

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Asked how he was coping in this most unusual of hockey seasons, Dawson Mercer was quick to accentuate the positive.

"One more week to go here," said the 19-year-old Newfoundlander of his pending return to action, "it won't be too long now."

The 2020 first-rounder (18th overall) is about to get out of quarantine - his sixth in the past year - and his sense of anticipation was palpable over the phone.

Mercer and the rest of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens will be released from their most recent 14-day quarantine on Valentine's Day. Two games follow a few days later against his younger brother, Riley, who is a goaltender on the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Mercer's former club.

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PROSPECT WATCH: Thompson Poised to Break Out

Read up on Devils prospect Tyce Thompson with reflections from his father, Brent, presented by Verizon

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

It was a comment at the end of an informative 15-minute chat with Brent Thompson that raised an eyebrow.

"I didn't stop (growing) until I was about 25," said the Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach, who is the father of Devils prospect Tyce Thompson. "I think you'll see the same (with Tyce)."

Video: Devils draft F Tyce Thompson No. 96

Tyce Thompson, a 6'1", 185-pound center/right wing at Providence College, is playing in his junior season and is leading the Friars in scoring (6G, 6A) in this truncated season.

Beyond numbers, and of all the metrics that go into drafting players, the ability to ascertain where they are at in their physical development is perhaps the most difficult to pin down. One NHL team has been known to try and shake hands with as many male members of a potential draftee's family during the evaluation process. Hand size, the thought goes, could indicate future growth.

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PROSPECT WATCH: Clarke's Different Offseason

Read about Devils prospect Graeme Clarke, his border crossing mishap and the rest of his offseason before he joins Binghamton

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Between having to quarantine and trying to keep busy in a pandemic-paused season, it was the last thing Graeme Clarke needed: a paperwork mix-up that almost caused another delay in a year defined by them.

The Devils prospect, a third-round pick (80th overall) from the 2019 NHL Draft, was heading to Slovakia last month with his younger brother, Brandt, to play in that country's pro league.

An obtuse Air Canada check-in agent had other ideas.

The circuitous journey - Ottawa-Toronto-Frankfurt-Vienna by air, then a bus trip over the border to Slovakia - raised eyebrows because the Clarke brothers lacked Austrian paperwork.

Their father, Chris, finally convinced the agent that their final destination was Slovakia, for which the boys had the proper paperwork, and not Austria.

They were allowed through.

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PROSPECT WATCH: Patrick Moynihan

Find out why Patrick Moynihan is "a guy who will find a way to make it."

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Michael Moynihan's only son, in the words of his father, "can get pretty wound up."

"But he does a really good job of hiding it," said the elder Moynihan, a health care administrator in Boston.

Michael's son is Patrick Moynihan, the Devils prospect now in his sophomore season with Providence College who won a gold medal with the U.S. team at the World Junior.

"I was driving him to the airport before (the final selection camp) and he said 'Dad, I'm nervous,'" recalls Michael Moynihan, "he really wanted to make the World Junior team."

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FEATURE: World Juniors Set to Begin

The World Junior always offers a glimpse of the game's brightest teenagers competing for their country and the Devils have six prospects in the dance

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Hockey fans don't need to be reminded that a lot has changed in a year. 

The global pandemic curtailed the Devils season almost a month early, led to the Stanley Cup being awarded in September and the NHL Draft being held in October. 

The 2020-21 season looks right now like it will begin on January 13. 

First, fingers crossed, one of the traditional slots on the hockey calendar will maintain its usual spot starting on Christmas day. 

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FEATURE: Shlaine's a Hockey Sponge

Shlaine, selected 130th overall in 2020 has started his first NCAA season with UConn

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Asked about Devils prospect Artem Shlaine, Ben Umhoefer was quick with a story.

Umhoefer is director of hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary's and coached Shlaine for two seasons ahead of his selection by the Devils.  

According to Umhoefer, Shlaine is a bit of a sponge. 

"There were times I thought he could have coached the team better than me," he said, only half in jest. 

"He would always come in after (watching NHL games) the night before and say 'hey, I think we should try this, or try that." 

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FEATURE: Devils 2020 Fourth Rounder Has Promise

Jaromir Pytlik has an opportunity to become one of the top two-way power forwards in the OHL

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Jaromir Pytlik selection by the Devils with the 99th pick in the 2020 NHL Draft created a couple of automatic storylines. 

Video: DRAFT | Jaromir Pytlik Media Avail

Any Czech hockey player, especially one named Jaromir, is going to be asked about Jaromir Jagr, whose storied career included almost two seasons playing for the Devils. Then there is retired Devils star Patrik Elias, who remains perhaps the next-best Czech player of his era behind only Jagr.

Soon after his selection, Pytlik confirmed that, like all Czech hockey players, he idolized both. 

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FEATURE: What Are the Devils Getting in Daws

Nico Daws' story is a tale of perseverance, being a late bloomer, and simply getting better

by Peter Robinson / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Video: Behind The Scenes | Brodeur Welcomes Daws

He's the reigning Ontario Hockey League goaltender of the year, a member of its 2018-19 championship squad, and a World Junior gold medalist. 

But that doesn't tell the whole story of Nico Daws, the Guelph Storm goaltender, who the Devils scooped up in the third round of the NHL Draft. 

Daws' story is a tale of perseverance, being a late bloomer, and simply getting better. Nothing has been handed to him and he's earned everything he's accomplished, often the hard way.

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