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Devils prospect Michael Vukojevic turning heads in first professional season

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NEWARK — It was in the direction of the tail finish of a current dialog with Binghamton Devils defenseman Michael Vukojevic the place he stated one thing that maybe indicated simply how far the 19-year-old first-year professional has are available a short while this season.

“As soon as you modify your mindset, you are able to do something.”

Contemporary off of signing his entry-level contract with the mother or father New Jersey Devils, who chosen the six-foot, 212-pounder within the third spherical of the 2019 NHL Draft, Vukojevic has discovered that simplifying his sport will pay huge dividends on the professional degree.

“In juniors, you may sort of get away with issues while you’re one of many older, stronger gamers,” he stated in a current Zoom session with media members.

“However, coming right here, you’ve actually bought to maintain it easy and make your life as straightforward you may. Simply make the straightforward performs, and issues will work out for you. I feel that’s actually the place my sport has improved, simply simplifying it and simply making an attempt to do my job, do it nicely and get on to the subsequent shift.”

It could actually, says B-Devils head coach Mark Dennehy, be a tough a part of the transition for a participant popping out of juniors — Vukojevic has honed his craft for the final three years with the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers — however his prized D prospect has dealt with the method comparatively easily.

“So, going from somebody who desires the NHL to look at them and look them and to face out to somebody who’s making an attempt to make it within the NHL, you’re nearly requested to 2 various things,” Dennehy stated.

“With the intention to get drafted or scouted or recruited, it’s good to stand out. Usually occasions, the perfect sport a defenseman performs, you don’t even discover them. So, you go from taking part in in juniors and making an attempt to get acknowledged, and a variety of that involves dashing the puck or scoring objectives or getting factors to the NHL, the place you’re simply making an attempt to do your job and play conditions, break pucks out. Due to that, usually occasions youthful gamers actually need to simplify their video games.

“I feel a much bigger half is instructing them how you can cope with adversity or failure, so to talk. It’s an adjustment going from junior hockey to the American Hockey League, and they also’re going to battle at occasions. And that’s OK, so long as they’re working arduous and studying from these errors. So, that’s actually been the message right here from (GM Tom Fitzgerald) from day one, is draft and develop. A giant half in growth is studying out of your errors. A number of occasions, these guys, all they get is optimistic suggestions all the best way up of their careers, and impulsively they’re struggling a little bit bit. How do you cope with that? We’ve bought the sources right here — whether or not it’s Aimie Kimball, our sports activities psychologist, to our positional coaches or our growth coaches — to assist these guys develop from their struggles.”

Vukojevic is a part of a particularly younger D core in Binghamton — 4 of its six blueliners in Friday evening’s 3-2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have been first-year professionals that have been 21 or underneath — however he appears to have made the transition higher than most. He says that getting used to the pace of the sport is the most important a part of all of it, to not point out taking part in towards veterans that older, quicker and stronger, however he’s relied on the veterans the staff does have to assist get him by means of all of it.

“It’s a giant bounce,” Vukojevic stated. “In juniors, the final couple of years, you’re one of many older guys. Coming right here, I’m a youthful man with a variety of older gamers; some guys with households, in order that they’re quite a bit older and stronger and there’s a variety of expertise. So, it’s actually simply making an attempt to maintain it easy. I’m leaning on the vets in our locker room for recommendation and making an attempt to essentially study the waters as they take me underneath their wing. It’s actually been a easy transition with their assist.”

Vukojevic got here into Saturday evening’s rematch in Lehigh Valley with one aim, 5 assists, ten penalty minutes and a minus-3 plus/minus ranking in his first ten video games, and is simply as excited to see the place his personal growth takes him because the Devils fanbase is to see what he finally ends up turning into.

“It’s been enjoyable,” he stated. “Enjoying professional hockey at 19 years previous, there’s not many complaints.”

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