NJ Devils First Round Pick Could Play in Utica This Season

Photo credit: Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The NJ Devils selected defenseman Simon Nemec with the number two overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.

The NJ Devils could be sending some star power to their American Hockey League affiliate the Utica Comets to start the 2022-23 season. Defenseman Simon Nemec of Slovakia should be coming to North America to begin his professional hockey career here this season and potentially be under the tutelage of Comets coach Kevin Dineen and his staff. Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald was quoted as saying he “expects” to get Nemec signed to his entry-level contract within a week after drafting him.

The eighteen-year-old Nemec is six feet tall, weighs 190 pounds, and shoots right-handed. He is known for his extraordinary puck-moving and offensive abilities Nemec was on the 2022 Slovakian Olympic Hockey Team and has played the last three seasons in the Slovakian Extraleague, which is a professional league in Slovakia. Here are Nemec’s career statistics in that league courtesy of https://hockeydb.com:

SeasonTeamLgeGPGAPtsPIM+/-GPGAPtsPIM
2019-20Nitra MHCSlovak1203302
2020-21Nitra MHCSlovak372171912-10
2021-22Nitra MHCSlovak39125262013195121714

Due to the fact Nemec is coming from a European league, he is exempt from the CHL/NHL agreement and is eligible to play in the American Hockey League. Should he play in Utica this season, he will join a defense corps that could potentially include Reilly Walsh, Nikita Okhotiuk, and Robbie Russo among others. The Utica Comets open their regular season on October 17th, 2022.

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