UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The wait wasn’t long to see the first transaction between the Utica Comets and New Jersey Devils in the 2022-23 season, Wednesday morning the NHL team announced that it had recalled defenseman Kevin Bahl from the Comets in return for 2022 second-overall pick Simon Nemec.

The 18-year-old Slovak was taken in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft by the Devils and coming from Europe has a lot to learn about the North American version of the game. The rink size, physicality, and style of play are all different when comparing the two versions of the sport, and all of this left many Devils beat reporters and fans assuming that Nemec would spend at least one season in the AHL to get accustomed to the North American professional level before making the transition to the major leagues.

When that didn’t happen on Monday there was some surprise, with the expectation then being that Nemec would play just nine games at the NHL level to keep his rookie eligibility and then the two players would swap places, but the Devils decided to speed that process up on Monday by making the switch early, a decision that looks as though it was a paper only move made to keep cap space open for the team as the season progresses.