Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben Kerr, Kyle Pereira and Frederik Frandson on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! Today we bring you our Nick Lardis Scouting Report.
The sixth overall pick in the 2021 OHL Draft, Nick Lardis had a decent first season with the Peterborough Petes. He put up 18 goals and 19 assists for 37 points in 63 games. Unfortunately, he was held scoreless in four playoff games. He also could not build on that rookie season as Lardis really struggled to start his draft season with Peterborough. Lardis put up just 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points in 36 games. At this point, Lardis was part of a trade to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Lardis was given a bigger role, more ice-time and more powerplay time with Hamilton and his game improved with the added responsibility. He had an outstanding second half of the year. Lardis scored 25 goals and 21 assists for 46 points in 33 games. He also added five goals and five assists for 10 points in six playoff games against the Barrie Colts. Unfortunately, Barrie was just too strong for Hamilton in the end. Lardis joined Team Canada for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He scored four goals in seven games and helped Team Canada to the bronze medal.
Nick Lardis Scouting Report
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born July 8th, 2005 — Oakville, Ontario
Height 5’11” — Weight 165 lbs [180 cm/75 kg]
Nick Lardis is an excellent skater. He wins races to loose pucks with a good first step and excellent acceleration. Lardis is able to take a defender wide and cut to the net. His ability to change speeds also allows him to confuse defenders and find open ice. Lardis has very good top-end speed and this makes him dangerous in joining the rush. His edgework and agility are also very good. Lardis is able to cut in and out of traffic and find openings around the defence. He likes to get to the dirty areas of the ice. However, Lardis lacks some lower body strength. He will need to build this up as it will help his balance. There are times when he is pushed off the puck, or out from the front of the net.
Lardis is a pure goal scorer. He has an outstanding arsenal of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot are both accurate and powerful. They also feature a quick and deceptive release which allows Lardis to fool goaltenders. The biggest strength of his game is his one-timer though. His shot is extremely powerful. He also has the ability to get it off even when the pass isn’t perfect. Lardis is able to adjust his feet and stick quickly and still get off an effective shot. He can also score goals in tight to the net with his soft hands. Lardis pounces on rebounds and can get deflections.
Lardis passing skill is a bit underrated as well. He can make plays in the offensive zone, finding teammates with a creative pass through traffic. His vision is also good. However, Lardis needs to work on his puck handling. When the game slows down, or in the zone he can be effective. However, he can struggle to keep control of the puck when moving at top speed. This creates some issues in the transition game. He is not one to lead the rush very often, instead looking to find a teammate with a pass and join the rush as a shooting option. He also can get pushed around a bit on the cycle game. Lardis needs to add muscle to his frame.
Lardis’ defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. His lack of size and physicality makes it tough for him to contain bigger opponents in the cycle game and he can be pushed around at times. This may improve as he continues to mature and add muscle to his frame. He also needs to work on his positioning and awareness in the defensive zone. There are times that he flies the zone early, which can be an issue if he misreads the play and his teammates don’t end up with the puck. Off the puck he also can have a tendency to puck watch a bit too much, allowing attackers to find open ice away from him. When a turnover is created, Lardis is decent at moving the puck up the ice but has to avoid his tendency where his feet move quicker than his hands.
Projection and Comparison
Lardis has the skating, shot and offensive skills to be a top-six player in the NHL. However, his game also has defensive weakness and he lacks size. He can also refine his puck handling. These are all teachable skills and Lardis could be a real steal if he reaches his ceiling. However, he is a real boom-or-bust style of prospect. Lardis is a long-term project who will need another couple of years in the OHL, and probably some time in the AHL as well. He needs that time to bulk up and be able to play his game at the NHL level. His game is reminiscent of Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Ethan Gauthier that are available on youtube and Twitter.
Nick Lardis with some nasty handles in U18 action pic.twitter.com/5Xh6HKpW9t
— Pavel Barber (@HeyBarber) May 2, 2023
This shift shows everything I love about Nick Lardis' game. The quickness, the ability to track the puck, the hands, the passing vision. He demands the puck on this shift.
— Joely Stockl (@joely_stockl04) June 1, 2023
NICK LARDIS ON THE POWERPLAY!
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 21, 2023
Check back later for our next draft article.
Main photo by: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports