Saturday, May 2, 2015

NJ Devils Prospect Update: 5/2/15

Last night saw two Devils prospects in action for their prospective CHL playoff tournament: John Quenneville (2014 30th overall) and Ryan Kujawinski (2013 73rd overall).

Ryan Kujawinski had a rough night, as did the entire North Bay Battalion team. Kujawinski was on the ice for 2 Oshawa goals and registered a -1 on the night. He got some time on the second penalty kill unit, which was nice to see. Maybe I haven't been paying good attention, but I haven't seen him play on it before, or just very sparingly at least. Kujawinski was solid in the face-off circle all night, and just had some pretty bad luck overall. He was given a 5 minute major and a 10 minute game misconduct (automatic ejection) for a kneeing penalty in the third period. I will try to sound as objective as possible, but it was an extremely weak call caused by incidental contact. At first glance if looked like Kujawinski's elbow was thrown out to hit Oshawa defenseman Mitchell Vande Sompel, but the replays showed that Kujawinski's elbow didn't even hit Vande Sompel. Vande Sompel was skating with the puck in his own zone out towards the blue line when he shifted back awkwardly with the puck and Kujawinski tried to make the big hit with the forearm, when he ended up hitting knee-to-knee. Maybe I'm just a homer, but it looked like Vande Sompel was down on the ice harboring a potential upper-body injury, which is strange because Kujawinski's arm/elbow never actually made contact with him. I wasn't on the ice though, and I only got a view that the broadcast cameras were showing. Either way, a weak call, and hopefully the league sees it fit that no more supplemental discipline is needed. If North Bay wants to win their next game, and ultimately the series against Oshawa, they need Kujawinski in the lineup. His offensive tools will be much needed.

Kujawinski played second line forward and also played on the second power play unit. Additionally near the end of the game (as mentioned above), he played on the second penalty kill unit. This was probably because North Bay's only goal of the night came shorthanded and by adding Kujawinski to the PK they could possibly add the firepower to get another.

Oshawa won the game 4-1 and goes up in the series 3-2. Game 6 is Sunday at 2 PM EST in North Bay.

John Quenneville is probably still smiling this morning from his game last night. The Brandon Wheat kings beat the Calgary Hitmen 8-2 and win the series 4-1. So this means that Brandon is the WHL Eastern Conference champion and will play the winner of the Protland-Kelowna series to determine the WHL champion, and who represents the WHL this year at the Memorial Cup hosted in Quebec. I tried to take notice of a lot more details in Quenneville's game, not only so I can write better about him, but also so we can all get a better look at him. I see more and more of Adam Henrique style of play in Quenneville, which is making me very happy.

Quenneville scored 2 goals last night including one on the powerplay. He now has 32 points in his last 24 playoff games. Besides his offensive production, I was extremely impressed with the amount of defensive zone face-offs Quenneville was on the ice for (and drew for, before getting kicked out of one). I did not count specifically, but he must have had at least 6 defensive-zone draws where he won the significant majority of them. In fact, Quenneville was pretty on-point for his face-offs most of the night. He logged significant time as second-line center, on the first powerplay unit as well as what looked like the second penalty kill unit. One thing I also noticed from Quenneville was his ability to gain the offensive zone with possession, without having to dump the puck in. Overall I was very impressed with Quenneville's game last night and look forward to Brandon's series against whoever wins the Kelowna-Portland series.

On an off-hand note, Devils prospect, Blake Coleman (2011, 75th overall) has not signed a contract with the Devils or their AHL affiliate, Albany, yet. He has until August 13 (I believe) to sign otherwise he becomes an unrestricted free agent. This is not cause for concern though because I believe he wants to finish up his degree and graduate before signing with the team. From his interviews he sounds excited to be a Devil, so I'm not too worried about that. Graduation for Miami Ohio starts May 16th, so after that we will see a deal struck. The only timeline to meet is the August deadline since neither the Devils nor the Albany Devils are in the playoffs this year.

Keep updated on Devils prospects by following me on Twitter @DTJ_AHockeyBlog.

Thanks for reading!

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