2021-22 Team: US National U18 Team, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)
Date of Birth: Jan. 10, 2004
Place of Birth: Bridgewater, NJ
Height: 6-foot-3, Weight: 198 pounds
Position: Right wing
Eligibility: First-year draft eligible
Devin Kaplan is a right wing who played for the U.S. National U18 Team in the USDP and the USNTDP Juniors in the United States Hockey League (USHL). He finished with 13 goals and 38 points in 53 games in the USDP and eight goals and 18 points in 22 games in the USHL.
What first stands out about Kaplan is his size. At 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, he’s an imposing figure who uses his frame to play a physical game. He’s not afraid to throw his body around and will finish his checks along the boards. He has a fair bit of success in puck retrievals along the boards and can be a problem for opponents when he’s in on the forecheck. Here’s one example:
While Kaplan is a physical player, it’s not just about physicality with him. He has some offensive upside, namely because of his shot. His counting totals don’t indicate it, but there’s potential for him to put pucks in the back of the net in the NHL because he will find his way to high-danger areas in the slot.
Though Kaplan is not a high-end skater, he has some potential in transition, as Will Scouch points out in his dataset, where he tracks micro stats of draft-eligible prospects (see quote below). If he can add a bit more pace to his skating, there’s some real upside for him to break out offensively.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
We already pointed out skating as an area of focus for Kaplan as he continues his development once he gets drafted. Another area for him to continue to improve is his shot volume. Simply, he just needs to shoot the puck more often than he does. That’s an easily correctable issue, and given his size, he shouldn’t have a problem finding his way toward high-danger areas in the NHL where he can get off more shots.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Devin Kaplan — Draft Projection
Kaplan is an intriguing prospect. Some rankings have him just outside the second round, while some have him as an early second-round pick. The production might not be there, but he has a ton of potential. Given that, and that he’s already 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a team selected him in the first half of the second round.
“…At times, [Kaplan] compensates for his lack of foot speed by positioning himself to be the trailer on an offensive fast break. Another strong area of Kaplan’s game is in the trenches. With his big frame, he invites competition along the boards and outmuscles opponents for contested pucks. Once he wins those battles, he often looks to start the cycle to provide his teammates scoring opportunities. The next area of focus in Kaplan’s game is his defensive game. This is an area where Kaplan shines as he is not afraid of being aggressive, whether it is in his own end or on the forecheck. When defending in his own zone, he uses an active stick to take away passing lanes and strip the puck from the opposition…” – Zach Szweras, Dobber Prospects
“Yeah, yeah, he isn’t scoring a ton of points, but once in a while, there are big, skilled and quick NTDP players who don’t score at the same rate as the players ahead of them on the depth chart, but once they hit college, they find their ice time and the points show up. I believe Devin Kaplan is one of those players. It may not be this or next year when it all comes together, but I love the potential of this player. He has remarkable skill with excellent offensive transition intensity and volume, among the best in my dataset. He hasn’t shot the puck often, but he’s always looking to get into the middle of the ice, and I really believe that with more time to learn how to manage defenders with his skill to open ice more often, the more Kaplan will find success. He may be a neat scoring winger to have around rather than a true game breaker, but I do think that there’s a huge ceiling with a big, skilled and intense offensive winger in Devin Kaplan.” – Will Scouch, NBC Sports
“Kaplan has a rare combination of size, speed, and skill that makes him a real interesting prospect. I think he’s equally got all three of those incorporated in his game, and I wouldn’t say one stands out to me above the rest. He has quick feet and is surprisingly very mobile on the ice for his size…” – Douglas Larson, FC Hockey
- Physical game
- One-on-one/board battles
- Shot selection
- Defensive game
Under Construction — Improvements to Make
- Adding pace to his skating
- Shot volume
If Kaplan hits his ceiling, there’s potential for him to become a middle-six power forward capable of chipping in 20 goals a season while providing solid defensive impacts (similar to Carolina Hurricanes forward Nino Niederreiter).
Risk: 3.5/5, Reward: 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense: 8/10, Defense: 7/10
Devin Kaplan Statistics
Kaplan won a silver medal with Team USA at that past spring’s U18 World Junior Championships.
Alex Chauvancy is a New Jersey Devils writer for The Hockey Writers who has a penchant for advanced stats, prospects, signings and trades. He previously wrote for Devils Army Blog, a New Jersey Devils fan blog, from 2015-2017