Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Hometown: Aahlborg, Denmark
Projected: Top 15
It will be interesting to see where Nikolaj Ehlers is will go on draft day. He is one of the fastest players in this year's class, is a solid playmaker, has good stickhandling and shooting skills at his disposal, and is still working on his defensive play. The biggest question mark is how much does playing with 2013 3rd-overall pick Jonathan Drouin influence Ehlers' production, just as there were questions of how much Drouin was being helped by Nathan Mackinnon's play last year (until Mackinnon got injured and Drouin lit up the Q).
Statistically, Ehlers is probably the most impressive player in the draft. He's got the most PPG of any player in the CHL and has a ridiculus +/- of +56 which, with no other information, would seem incredible. Like I said, given the fact he plays with Drouin, however, you have to look to more of what he can do.
A lot of scouts are starting to say Ehlers has a lot of Drouin-like capabilities and that, although he probably will never be that good, he could get very close to being as good as him. Right now Ehlers has to work on size and making improvements his defensive game and let his offensive game do the rest. If he can do that, Ehlers could potentially be a very solid pick.
"He's come over here and living up to the reputation that preceded him," [NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan] Marr told NHL.com. "The big question was how he would handle the durability of playing in the [QMJHL] and playing more games. But he's proven to be a skilled forward who can work some magic with Drouin. He's got that quickness where he can separate from a check and get to the net. He's got soft hands and passes with authority, is a clever playmaker and very unselfish. Most teams are viewing him as a first-round candidate."
Nikolaj is a dynamic player who - while not being really big - plays big and is elusive. A very quick player, he is able to see opportunities and take advantage. He is equally adept at finishing plays as he is making them.
Where He Would Fit
Nick Ehlers has the potential to be a very solid offensive forward in the NHL. Speed and vision are two things that a player, even one as small as Ehlers, can use successfully in the NHL with little hindrance. Before he makes any kind of jump to the NHL, however, he will definitely have to put on some weight.
I don't think he would be a player that has a great relationship with Trotz's dump and chase system. His speed would definitely help but size is almost a must in such a system. This brings up the question of how much muscle mass will be optimal for Ehlers to add on. If the Predators ask him to add on too much, some of the stick handling and elusiveness that he possesses will be gone and this could negatively alter his game.
Gabriel Bourque, for instance, is at least an inch shorter than Ehlers and plays a more wrecking-ball type game; he weighs in the mid-190 lb range. Patrick Kane, on the other hand, plays similarly to Ehlers and is the same height; he weighs around 180. If Patrick Kane were to weigh around ten more pounds, he might not be the player he is today.
Nevertheless, Ehlers could be an intriguing player for the Predators and he would bring a lot of skill to a team that could use some help in that area.