Newark, NJ – Josh Filmon is looking to prove the nay-sayers wrong.
The New Jersey Devils selected Filmon in the sixth round of the 2022 NHL Draft, 166th overall. Among North American skaters, Filmon ranked 38th overall pre-draft. In rank, he just tailed some high draft picks such as Rutger McGroarty who is a top-15 first-round draft pick by the Winnipeg Jets and fellow Devils prospect Seamus Casey who New Jersey selected in the second round last year.
Filmon’s back for his second development camp this summer and you could tell he is one of the more prepared prospects in attendance. Filmon noticeably won his puck battles, controlled the puck well, appeared to be one of the better skaters on the ice in his group, and snapped a couple of pucks by the goaltenders in attendance on Monday.
Still, there are those who doubt Filmon and he’s heard about it plenty.
“The thing that everybody’s kind of knocked on me, basically for the last six years, has just been my size,” Filmon explained following the first day of development camp. “I’ve been working really hard this summer to just put on size and get stronger. This is kind of my first opportunity to play against guys, really solid hockey players, and just kind of see my growth over the last couple of months in the gym and stuff. So I’m excited to do that.”
Heading into the 2022 NHL Draft, Filmon was listed as 6-foot-1, 160 lbs. According to EliteProspects, the average weight of the Devils last season was 197 lbs. Filmon stated that by the end of his season in Junior with the Swift Current Broncos, he’s added about 15-16 pounds to his frame which would make him about 175 lbs. Filmon joked, “It’s coming, just took a while.”
Going to the gym and lifting weights is easy for Filmon, but adding weight has been a challenge. Unfortunately for the 19-year-old forward, there are dietary limitations that have made bulking a more difficult task.
“They’ve got a great staff here (in New Jersey),” Filmon explained. “That helps a lot. The other thing is I got some allergies to nuts and fish. If you want to put on weight, people just tell you to eat handfuls of nuts and stuff like that. But our nutritionist here actually has a nut allergy too. So that’s pretty helpful. She can just throw some ideas out because she’s been through it before.”
Adding that much weight despite the limitations is impressive. As for his game, Filmon’s evidently taken great strides in his development. In the 2021-22 season, before he was drafted, Filmon scored 23 goals and 45 points in the WHL. Following his draft and first NHL development camp, New Jersey and Swift Current told Filmon what they’d like to see him work on.
“I took some steps for sure,” Filmon stated. “Just becoming a more complete player. Finding different ways to score was a big one. Another thing that teams over the last year told me to improve upon was getting to the middle of the ice more and I definitely did that. I think I doubled my goal total this year from my draft year. It’s been great. Just looking to keep on improving.”
Filmon more than doubled his previous goal total by one goal. He finished the 2022-23 season with 47 goals and 75 points. The Devils prospect scored the fourth-most goals in the WHL, behind some guy named Connor Bedard who scored 71 goals last season, and two other undrafted prospects in Kai Uchacz (50) and Jackson Berezowski (48). The Winnipeg native even scored six goals in one game achieving a “double hat-trick.” Filmon’s excellent 2022-23 season saw him named to the WHLs First All-Star Team alongside Bronco’s teammate and former first-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Owen Pickering.
Speaking of being from Winnipeg, Filmon watches a lot of his hometown team. One player he said he studies and models his game after is a guy who knows how to fill the net in Kyle Connor.
“I’m from Winnipeg so I watch a lot of the Jets,” Filmon said. “Kyle Connor is a guy who’s unbelievable at being shifty around the net and just slashing gaps. So that’s a guy that I like to model my game after for sure.”
Let’s see. Connor and Filmon are both listed as 6-foot-1. Filmon is now a self-proclaimed 175 lbs. Connor is listed as 179 lbs. Maybe there are some parallels here.
Filmon signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Devils following his breakout year in the WHL. When the Broncos didn’t clinch a playoff berth, Filmon got his feet wet in the American Hockey League. Skating with the Utica Comets, the Winnipeg native scored his first professional hockey goal.
“It was great,” Filmon said of his time in Utica. “I got to score my first goal which was pretty cool. And it definitely helps going back to Junior after having an NHL camp under your belt. Then on top of that, playing pro games in Utica at the end of the season. It just makes the transition back so much easier and it gives you that much more confidence playing against guys your own age.”
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 8, 2023
When asked about the difference between Junior and the AHL, Filmon said, “It’s definitely faster. It wasn’t anything super crazy. I’d say the more challenging piece was winning loose puck battles is so much harder. And then puck possession. When you give it up it’s a lot harder to get it back against grown men than it is against kids.”
That’s the area of Filmon’s game that may suffer a bit. Due to his size, winning said puck battles won’t come as easy. But, as Filmon said, the weight took a while, but it’s coming. Adding an extra 15-16 pounds this summer is a heckuva start.
It was a short stint, but when he got to Utica, Filmon was quickly taken under the wing of a current Comet.
“Graeme Clarke is one of those guys,” Filmon said. “He’s also Canadian, kind of been down the same path. I think he was in his 19 or 20-year-old season in Junior during the COVID year. He actually got to play with Utica a little bit as a young guy and experienced a similar feeling. It’s nice to have guys that have walked in your shoes before and it’s great when they’re they’re welcoming and accepting to take you under their wing when you get up there.”
Filmon will head back to the WHL to play for the Broncos again in 2023-24. He has some lofty, yet achievable goals he’d like to accomplish before making the leap to the professional level.
“50 goals would be cool,” Filmon stated as something he’d like to achieve in Swift Current next season. “Not many guys do that. I think the last time that somebody did that in Swift Current, they won the WHL championships. So that’d be pretty cool.”
Filmon added: “(Another) would be to try and crack the Canadian World Junior team at Christmas. It’s not going to be easy, but that would be an experience of a lifetime.”
Filmon’s expectations of himself are high. After falling in the 2022 NHL Draft, he began to prove a lot of his critics wrong for passing up on him last summer. Filmon’s determination and ability to make the circumstance that is his size a positive for himself has only turned him into a better player. Filmon seemingly has all the right tools needed to be a successful player skill-wise. His main focus is to continue getting bigger and stronger to ultimately reach the NHL.
“Over the years (my size) has been the main thing,” Filmon explained. “If you ever ask ‘hey, what do you think I need to improve upon?’ It’s always just that I gotta get bigger and stronger. That’s something that I can totally control just with my work ethic in the gym and my nutrition. So it’s an awesome (motivator). Definitely puts a chip on my shoulder.”
Follow us on Twitter:
And on Threads: