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ARSENY DOES IT AGAIN!

It’s been a tale of two seasons for Arseniy Gritsyuk this year. As of our first update, the former KHL rookie struggled after being demoted to the fourth line and had just ten points (two goals and eight assists) in his first 26 games while shooting 3.6%. Since then, the squad has started to find the back of the net with regularity, and Gritsyuk has staved off his sophomore slump with 21 points (ten goals, eleven assists) in his last 22 games.

The increase in production has pushed Gritsyuk’s PNHLe up to 46 on the Dobber scale, which now projects him to the first and second line forwards. [Dobber] While this projection is still down from Gritsyuk’s PNHLe of 66 last season, which had him hovering above the top line, this seems like a fairer, more stable projection for the former Fifth Rounder.

Proving last season was no fluke, Gritsyuk looks like a winger the Devils could use in their top six should he decide to head to North America, so let’s take a closer look at his overall game.

STRENGTHS OF GRITSYUK

As quoted by Alex Shovansi for HockeyWriters, Dylan Griffing of Dobber Prospects notes that one of Gritsyuk’s biggest attributes is speed. As an example, watch Gritsyuk shoot past defenders and into the net to get this pass for his ninth of the season.

That burst of speed was just Woodsian. Fortunately for Gritsyuk, his shot is much better than that, at least when he’s not trying to imitate Jack Hughes.

At least we know Gritsyuk watches Devils games. Here’s a better look at Gritsyuk’s star shot for the actual goal.

GRITSYUK’S WEAKNESSES

No player is perfect, and Gritsuk’s game defaults, according to scouting reports, seem to focus on weaknesses on the defensive end and Gritsuk’s small frame. [The Hockey Writers] Since I lack the data to properly analyze Gritsyuk’s defensive game, I’ll leave that one to the scouts.

As for size, Gritsyuk has bulked up from 168 to 185 pounds, according to HockeyDB, and his height has gone from 5’10 to 5’11 since being drafted. So Gritsyuk’s size, while he’ll never be confused with a bruiser, shouldn’t be a huge concern. Granted, smaller players often struggle, especially when trying to transition to a smaller ice surface with more physical contact, but Gritsyuk seems to have enough quickness to separate from defenders. As Tony Ferrari of Hockey News wrote of Gritsyuk, his “agility and quickness help him create space to do his job effectively.” So as long as Gritsyuk’s defensive game is competent enough, his size shouldn’t be much of an issue.

CONCLUSION OF TYPE

I title this section “a conclusion of sorts” because prospect coverage and analysis usually involves a lot of predictions, guesses, gut instincts, and hopes, but there’s not a lot of guesswork here; bring this baby The Devils need another attacking winger in their top six, and even if Gritsyuk proves not to be the case, the experience is more than worth the near-absence of risk in getting the deal done. Of course, contract negotiations are easier said than done, and moving KHL players to the NHL can be a tricky business, but if Gritsyuk wants to come to the end of his season, the Devils should sign him.

So will Gritsyuk come? As of now, the news is unconfirmed. Pere Guadana, a Devils fan and prospect scout out of Russia, seems to be interested in Gritsyuk, but there are no concrete plans yet. Still, according to his report, it appears that when the time comes, Gritsyuk will ask Mukhamadullin to help him move, which probably says more for Big Shaq’s future with the Devils than it does for Gritsyuk. So for now, Devils fans can only hope and wait.

EUROPEAN UPDATE

Russia

Bad news. Zakhar Bardakov suffered a second injury and had played just six games since the last update on Friday night when this article was written. Good news. Bardakov scored in his first game. Despite the injuries (including one accidental incident involving an open door), Bardakov is still in the starting line-up for SKA St. Petersburg’s first-place finisher this season, playing a mostly checking role. Devils fans can wait to see if Bardakov can be a future option in the bottom six as Bardakov is contracted to SKA until next season.

In the spotlight of the week, Arseniy Gritsyuk scored 21 points in 22 games to increase his season output to 0.60 pts/g. Gritsyuk’s shooting percentage has stabilized at 10.7%, down from 3.6% at the start of the season. All in all, things are looking good for the Russian winger.

Nikita Popugaev has seen his ice time drop to 8:49 since being traded to SKA St. Petersburg. With just one assist in his last thirteen games, Big Poppa’s Pts/g for his new team has halved to 0.16. It’s surprising how hard it is to snake the goalless Russian joker after joining SKA, but any hopes of a Big Poppa revival seem to be taxiing off into the sunset.

Shakir Muhamadulin has been relatively quiet since the last update, picking up enough assists to keep his Pts/g around 0.33 while seeing an uptick in TOI average of 17:06. The Big Shak recently celebrated his 21st birthday and all indications are that he intends to come to North America after his season. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, look for Big Shak to man the Utica blueline in the not-too-distant future.

Daniil Misyul had one assist after the last update, while Yegor Zaitsev and Artyom Baraboshka remained scoreless. Zaitsev, whose time as a prospect is coming to an end, remains in and out of Dynamo Moscow. It’s hard to say what, if anything, the Devils have planned for this trio. Misul has some intrigue as a shutdown defender, but at 22 years old, he’s likely to be moved after his contract expires, and with Nemek, Hughes, Bahl, Ohkotyuk, Willen and Big Shaq in the mix, it’s hard to see. where he was fitting in right now, even in Utica.

After returning from injury, Daniil Orlov continues to bounce between the KHL, VHL, MHL, playing games in all three leagues since the last update. All the movement and injury during the young quarterback’s season makes it difficult to get a good read on his development. The 2022 fourth-round pick just turned 19, so even if this is a lost season for the young quarterback, there’s still plenty of time for him to grow and for the Devils to appreciate his progress.

Czech Republic

After his silver medal for the Czech Republic at the World Juniors, Petr Hauser increased his output to 0.52 pts/G while on loan at HC Banik. The energetic winger is yet to score in eight top-flight games this season, but has performed well in the lower leagues. If Hauser’s development continues on track, expect him to make the full-time move to the Czech Republic next year.

After returning from injury, Jaromir Pitlik has now made twenty appearances for Ritiri Kladano and has two points (a goal and an assist) to show for his efforts. At 21, the clock is ticking for Pitlik. The young center needs to find his game soon if he has any hopes of making the transition to the NHL.

Finland

Topias Willen has only played a handful of games for the Pelicans since the last update, being meaningless down that stretch. The former sixth-rounder led Team Finland in ice time at the World Junior Championships and appears ready to make the move to North America. The plan seems to be to start the 19-year-old defenseman in Utica, so expect to see him there once his season is over.

After a slow transition, Jakub Malek settled in, raising his save percentage to a respectable .903% while still playing behind veteran Marek Langhamer. After dominating the Czech championships, this is a positive step for the young netminder’s development. As of now, Malek remains the Devils’ starting goaltender out of Utica.

Sweden

Nikola Pasic continued his strong run with Sodertalje SK in the Allsvenskan and remains at over pts/g this season. Pasic’s 38 points ranks him 5th in the league, the highest among drafted players. While one might wish Sodertalje SK were in the SHL to better gauge Pasic’s development, the numbers are still encouraging. Pasic is out of contract this season, so it will be interesting to see what the Devils decide to do with him.

EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE OF THE MONTH

This month’s honors spotlight Arseniy Gritsyuk, who has been dominant of late. Stick faucets.

AROUND THE POOL

  • Peter Robinson of NHL.COM wrote this article about Simon Nemec’s development. Either way, Nemec is adjusting well thanks in large part to his elite hockey sense. [NHL.COM]
  • Utica defeated Syracuse 3-2 on Saturday. Nolan Foote scored the game-winning goal in overtime, his 14th of the season. Graeme Clarke (15) and Ryan Schmelzer (4) also scored for the Comets. Akira Schmid made 28 of 30 saves for his 8th AHL win of the season. [The AHL.COM]
  • Just for fun, Yardbarker.Com thinks the Canucks should go after Simon Nemec for Bo Horvath, which isn’t going to happen. [Yardbarker.Com]
  • Goaltender Tyler Brennan was injured during warmups over the weekend. His status is uncertain. [MyPrinceGeorgeNow.Com]
  • A late post that slipped through the cracks, but Graeme Clarke, who was the focus of the following week, was named AHL Player of the Week a few weeks ago. [UticaComets.Com]
  • EPrinkside confirms what was long suspected in the upcoming update; [EP Rinkside $]
  • Samu Salminen has eight points in his last eight games, with just two points in his first eight. I’d say he’s adjusting well.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Now is the time to say what you think. Do you think Gritsyuk will come? Villain? Big Shaq? Who are you most excited to see in red and black? Let us know in the comments below.

Next week’s prospect update returns to the surging Utica Comets with a spotlight on Graeme Clarke’s breakout season.

HEAVY METAL UPDATE

On a personal note, I’ll be DJing at 89.5FM WSOU for the Alumni Shift this Saturday from 9-12pm. almost certainly will. On the rock:

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