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The New Jersey Devils open up the 2018 Prospects Challenge tonight with a clash against the Buffalo Sabres, who are again hosting.
The Devils brought 26 players (15 forwards, eight defensemen, three goaltenders) to the three-game mini-tournament and the expectation is all of them will see game action this weekend.
Let's take a closer look at a few players to keep your eyes on:
Winger - John Quenneville
A couple early September games against prospect teams won't determine who will or won't make the Devils, but it'd sure be nice to see Quenneville stand out.
The 22-year-old was selected in the 1st round four years ago – time flies! – and is heading into his third season of pro hockey. Now is the time to seriously push for a roster spot.
Given his pedigree, experience, and more physically mature body, he should be borderline dominant this weekend.
Winger - Fabian Zetterlund
Zetterlund's stock has risen a lot in the last year. Nobody questioned his skating or work ethic but he has shown more offensive potential than many – myself included – thought he had in him.
He really stood out at the World Junior Summer Showcase in August and I expect him to do it again in Buffalo.
Center - Yegor Sharangovich
Sharangovich spent his 19-year-old season playing as a regular against men in the KHL and finished tied for 10th on his team in scoring. He has a nice mix of skill, power, and he moves fairly well for a player of his stature.
It may take time to adjust to playing on a North American rink but I wouldn't be surprised if he makes some noise this weekend.
Defenseman - Ty Smith
Last season Smith logged a ton of ice in all situations, registered 73 points in 69 games, and posted a +39(!!) goal differential at 5v5.
He was as dominant as pretty much any defender in the CHL. With another summer of training under his belt, I'd expect nothing different this weekend playing primarily against players in the same age group he was so good against in 2017-18.
I don't think he'll make the Devils this season – another year of seasoning is probably for the best, too – but he could make it interesting with a really strong camp. It all starts tonight.
There has been no word about streaming but the Devils did air, and archive, games at last year's tournament. If they're doing so again, I'll update this post with more details.
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