2014 NHL Draft Profile #8: Nikolaj Ehlers
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The 6th overall pick in the CHL Import Draft, Nikolaj Ehlers has exploded with the Mooseheads putting up 49 goals and 104 points in 64 games this year. He’s continued his hot play into the playoffs with four goals and 12 points in five games. Ehlers has been rising up draft boards all year, but one particular stretch where he scored three straight hat-tricks for the Mooseheads really vaulted him into the conversation as a potential top 10 pick.
One anonymous NHL Scout had this to say about Nikolaj Ehlers: “He’s got an immense amount of skill and creativity, and whoever drafts him will be very lucky. He’s going to be a good player in the NHL.”
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born Feb 14 1996 — Aalborg, Denmark
Height 5.11 — Weight 163 [180 cm/74 kg]
Nikolaj Ehlers is one of the best skaters in this draft class. His speed is off the charts, and he has outstanding acceleration and great agility. He beats even the quickest of defenders one-on-one, and can take them wide and cut to the net. He is very solid on his skates and has a powerful stride that can fight through checks, hooks, and holds. Despite his size he has good balance and is very difficult to knock off the puck and this should only improve as he adds weight.
Ehlers combines that skating skill with great hands and he can score in close when he cuts to the net. His stickhandling ability is high-end and he can make moves and control the puck while at top speed. He is absolutely lethal off the rush, and if defenders back off on him to avoid being beaten by his speed, he can use the space to let go a great wrist shot which features an excellent release. His passing skill is also high level, and he has great vision and hockey sense to take advantage of that. Ehlers is willing to work in the dirty areas, and handles the puck well even in heavy traffic areas. He does need to work on adding muscle to his frame and getting better in making more muscular plays down low, on the cycle and in winning battles on the boards.
Ehlers also needs to work on his defensive game. Being out muscled in defending the cycle is part of the problem and will improve as he adds weight going forward. He also needs some coaching on positioning and reading the play though. This can certainly be taught though, and shouldn’t be a huge concern given the high end offensive potential that he has.
His style compares well with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, with even more speed. This isn’t to say his talent level is on par with Kane or he will be as good in the NHL as Kane, just that the style of game is comparable. In terms of potential he could be a top line winger in the NHL.
Here are some videos of Ehlers in action.
Check back tomorrow for my #9 ranked prospect.
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