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Title - Lindsay Ryall
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Jets Take a Great Dane In The First Round
By Lindsay Ryall
HometownHockey.ca

Jets Take a Great Dane In The First Round
If you compare Ehlers stats last season in major junior, he compares very favourably to any of the top five forwards taken in the draft. Out of the top ten forwards taken in the first round, Ehlers’ points per game stats would put him in third place for offensive production, behind only Sam Reinhart and Dal Colle, slightly head of the third player taken, Leon Draisatl.
PHOTO CREDIT - ADRIEN VECZAN / Staff

Winnipeg - July 1, 2014 - When it comes to professions, it appears I need to stay clear of being a professional prognosticator.

Prior to the 2014 draft, I listed 6 different prospects the Winnipeg Jets might take, just to cover the spread. At the end of day, I was wrong six times. But if I had to make one change to my predictions, I would have listed Nicholas Ehlers as a front runner to be chosen. The Jets were looking for game changing offensive talent and the young Dane definitely has that potential.

If you compare Ehlers stats last season in major junior, he compares very favourably to any of the top five forwards taken in the draft. Out of the top ten forwards taken in the first round, Ehlers’ points per game stats would put him in third place for offensive production, behind only Sam Reinhart and Dal Colle, slightly head of the third player taken, Leon Draisatl.

So does this mean the Jets have found themselves yet another top 10 sleeper? Looking closer at Ehlers’ stats there is a good chance. Ehlers took in a huge haul of hardware as a first year player in “Q” last year.

  • Rookie of the year for the entire CHL

  • Best overall +/- in the QMJHL

  • Rookie Scoring Title (QMJHL)

  • Most Points in the QMJHL

  • Michael Bergeron Trophy for offensive rookie of the year

  • Mike Bossy Trophy for best professional prospect

    Looking back further, Ehlers appears to have a history of scoring at an advance level despite his age. At 15 he played in the Swiss U-20 league for Biel, scoring 34 points in 28 games. The following year Ehlers began to dominate, scoring 49 points in 32 games. At the 2013 U-18’s Ehlers still put up solid numbers, posting at better than a point per game (11 points in 8 games).

    So why was he still available at number 9, and not in the conversation near the top 5? Well, he’s listed at 6’ tall, 170 pounds. While he’ll gain some weight he may never play at 200lbs, and in today’s NHL, size does matter. Some sites even list him as low as 165.

    Despite the impressive numbers, his production has come under question. Could they have been padded by the fact that he played alongside 2013 number 3 overall Johnathan Drouin? Linemates will always affect numbers, but it doesn’t appear Drouin was dragging Ehlers along by any means. Drouin finished with three more points than the previous year in three fewer games, but there was a noted increase in his assists, 15 more. If anything, Drouin was likely benefited from playing with a sniper like Ehlers. This doesn’t appear to be a Paul Macartney- Ringo Starr scenario.

    But let’s look at that size thing for just a minute. Winnipeg, at present is the 5th heaviest team in the league. Can’t the jets afford to sacrifice a little size for potential elite scoring? I would say that’s calculated risk worth taking, provided the requisite compete level is there, and it appears it is. Scouts say Ehlers is not afraid to go to the tough areas of the ice and draws comparisons to Markus Naslund (vision) with Pavel Bure speed, and while those are lofty comparisons, Nicholaj forecasts to be the NHL’s first Great Dane. Surprisingly, heading into this draft year, Ehlers was only noted as a second rounder. I’d say it’s a good thing I’m not the only one who’s bad at forecasts.

  • Follow Me on Twitter If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at lryall@hometownhockey.ca







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