Eye on the Draft: Nikolaj Ehlers

Posted by Chip Alexander on June 24, 2014 

The Canes have the No. 7 selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, which begins Friday. Each day this week, CanesNow will take a look at a potential pick.

Today: Nikolaj Ehlers.

Nikolaj Ehlers of the Halifax Mooseheads appears to be an intriguing prospect, one that has piqued the interest of many NHL scouts.

"He's a helluva of a player, a dynamic offensive force," said Tony MacDonald, the Canes' director of amateur scouting.

Ehlers, from Aalborg, Denmark, isn't a big guy (5-11, 176). He's not one of the top 10 North American skaters (13th by Central Scouting). But the winger may work his way into the top 10 in the draft Friday night in Philadelphia.

Ehlers finished fourth in scoring last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was named the league's rookie of the year. He had 49 goals and 104 points in 63 games, then put together an impressive postseason that saw him notch 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 16 games. He’s a sniper who quickly made the adjustment from the Swiss Elite League and European rinks to the smaller confines of North American ice.

MacDonald noted that Ehlers played part of the season for the Mooseheads on a line with Jonathan Drouin, the Tampa Bay Lightning first-round pick (third overall) in 2013. Drouin was third in scoring in the QMJHL.

"There's some talk that Drouin made Ehlers better," MacDonald said. "Maybe so, but he contributed to Drouin's success, too.

"He scored 49 goals. He had more than 100 points. He's not afraid to go into the tough areas. In one game I saw him get hit about as hard as anyone all season and he didn't miss a shift."

Ehlers, 18, has starred for Denmark's Under-20 and Under-18 Division 1A World Junior teams, coming back with gold medals. He also has good bloodline: his father, Heinz, played pro hockey in Europe.

While Canes general manager Ron Francis has talked about a preference for adding bigger, stronger players, Ehlers is a smaller, quicker player with a big game.

"He's got skill, he can skate and he can create," MacDonald said. "He's an offensive player but he's also pretty responsible without the puck. There's no doubt he's a top-end prospect."

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service