Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me 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”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Zion Nybeck.
Winger Zion Nybeck has dominated the Swedish Junior leagues this season. He quickly showed he was too advanced for the Under-18 league, picking up six goals and 10 points in four games. Moving up to the Under-20 league didn’t slow him down. Nybeck scored 27 goals and 39 assists for 66 points in 42 games in the SuperElit. It earned him a look in the SHL. He scored one goal in 15 games for HV71 in limited ice time. Nybeck was also an alternate captain for Sweden at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, picking up one goal and four points in five games and winning a bronze medal. Overall, he had two goals and 12 points in 13 games for the Swedish Under-18 Team.
Last season, Nybeck put up 17 goals and 24 points in 14 games at the Under-18 league level. He also had 17 goals and 43 points in 35 games in the SuperElit. He had the most assists in the league. Nybeck was named the top Swedish Under-18 player. He also played at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. With two goals and five points, he helped Sweden to gold. He also scored three goals at the Under-17 WHC, winning bronze.
Zion Nybeck Scouting Report
Left Wing/Right Wing — shoots Left
Born May 12th, 2002 — Alvesta, Sweden
Height 5’8″ — Weight 176 lbs [172 cm / 80 kg]
Coming in at just five-foot-eight, Nybeck is also 176 pounds. He is very solidly built. His low centre of gravity and muscular lower body gives him excellent power and balance in his stride. He can fight through checks and get to the dirty areas of the ice. He is also strong along the boards. Nybeck is also an explosive skater. He has a very good first step and strong acceleration. His speed allows him to take a defender wide and cut to the net. With quick feet, Nybeck also has excellent lateral agility and edgework. He can make sharp turns and quickly changes directions. This also makes him dangerous in one-on-one situations.
Nybeck combines his skating with excellent stickhandling ability. He can make plays while moving at top speed. He also has the ability to make dangles in a phone booth. Nybeck can create space, getting away from defenders and can also protect the puck down low in the cycle game. He has excellent vision and passing skills. When he sees a teammate open, he can make a quick move to open up a passing lane. He can also thread the puck through tight openings and is even skilled with a saucer pass. Nybeck is willing to try creative plays that others will not even think about.
He is also a talented goal scorer. Nybeck has a powerful wrist shot and a good release. He also has a good snapshot and an effective one-timer. His skating allows him to create his own shot. Defenders need to back off to respect his speed and he can use them as a screen while firing the puck on the net. He also has a knack for finding open ice and setting up to receive a pass from a teammate and fire it on the net. In tight to the goalie he can make quick moves and can also elevate the puck quickly on both his forehand and backhand. Nybeck wins a surprising amount of battles for the puck given his lack of size. However, he must continue to add muscle before moving to North American ice.
Nybeck also plays a responsible defensive game and has even been used as a penalty killer. His vision and smarts extend to the defensive end as he reads the play well and gets into good positions. He can intercept passes and quickly transition them into offensive chances. Nybeck takes good angles and provides effective backpressure against the rush. His size can be a bit of a limiting factor at times though as he can be overpowered when working to contain an opponent’s cycle game. He is willing to help out down low but is not always effective there.
Projection and Comparison
Nybeck has the skills to develop into a top-six winger at the NHL level. He is a line driver at the junior level and is able to both score goals and set up teammates. His all-around game also extends to the defensive end. Already solidly built, he could mature and add even a bit more muscle. The big question is around his size and if it will be a limiting factor as he looks to translate that offence to a smaller ice surface. Nybeck’s game is reminiscent of Joe Pavelski but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Zion Nybeck that are available on youtube.
Zion Nybeck has scored his first SHL goal for HV71! Nybeck has had a dominate season in the Swedish junior leagues and finally gets rewarded in the SHL. He maybe small but he’s one of the most offensively dangerous players in the draft.
— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) March 5, 2020
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Zion Nybeck Main Photo:
Zion Nybeck Joins the Show
— Jack LeGwin (@jacklegwin) January 23, 2020