Nico Daws, AJ Greer, Fabian Zetterlund, and Kevin Bahl have all been impressive in their time with the Devils. It could pay huge dividends when they return to the Utica Comets for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Utica Comets have been one of the top teams in the American Hockey League all season long. A major key to their success has been players like Fabian Zetterlund, Kevin Bahl, and Nico Daws have taken huge steps in their development, while AJ Greer has shown that he is ready for the next step as well. All four are being rewarded for their fine seasons in the AHL with time in the National Hockey League.
Daws was the first to be called up for a significant amount of time out of necessity as injuries have ravaged the Devil’s goaltending corps. This is the twenty-one-year-old’s first season of professional hockey in North America and he was supposed to spend the entire season in Utica with the Comets, but fate determined otherwise. In his twenty-four appearances for New Jersey, he has a record of 10-11-0 with a GAA of 3.13 and a save percentage of 0.893. Although his NHL record is below 0.500, he has wins over Colorado, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and the New York Rangers – all playoff-bound teams. Daws has not seemed overwhelmed at all playing against the best competition in the world which bodes well for his future.
At twenty-five years old, AJ Greer already has NHL experience under his belt, as prior to this season he had played ta total of thirty-eight games in the National Hockey League between the Colorado Avalanche and the Devils. This season he has been an integral part of the Utica Comets – both as a scorer and a leader. His grit, tenacity, and knack for scoring big goals have earned him a second callup to New Jersey this season, and he is making the most of it. Greer has a goal and an assist with the Devils so far, but the same grit and tenacity that he has shown in Utica are endearing him to the Devil’s coaching staff and fans as well.
Another fan favorite in Utica getting his shot in New Jersey is Fabian Zetterlund. The twenty-two-year-old forward was drafted by the Devils in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He leads the Comets in scoring with twenty-four goals and twenty-eight assists and has been a force to be reckoned with all season. He was recalled to New Jersey with Greer on April 6th for his second stint with the Devils this season. He has four points (one goal and three assists) in his last two games for the Devils this season, and it appears he has made quite an impression on the team that calls the Prudential Center home.
The last of the four Utica Comets getting his chance to show the Devils what he can do is defenseman Kevin Bahl and he too is taking full advantage of his opportunity. Acquired by New Jersey in the 2019 Taylor Hall trade, the twenty-one-year-old defenseman is in his second stint with the Devils, as he played seven games for the club last season as well. In Utica this season, Bahl has used his immense stature (6 feet, 6 inches tall, and 230 pounds) to develop into a physical “stay at home” defenseman who has some offensive upside as well. Like Zetterlund, he scored his first NHL goal on Tuesday night against the Arizona Coyotes – ironically the team that originally drafted and subsequently traded him.
If the play of Daws, Greer, Zetterlund, and Bahl during their time with the New Jersey Devils is any indication, then Kevin Dineen and the Utica Comet’s coaching staff are doing a tremendous job of developing the team’s young talent. Fortunately for the Comets and their fans, all four will be back in Utica by the time the Calder Cup Playoffs start as the Devils are not going to make the playoffs. Fortunately for the Devils and their fans, these four are an example of the high-end talent that is coming their way via Utica and the future is looking very bright indeed.