In anticipation of the Sharks’ 2014 NHL Draft selection, we will be highlighting the top 30 prospects over the next few weeks.
Name: Nikolaj Ehlers
Position: Left Wing
Current Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Jersey Number: 24
Weight: 163 lbs.
Hometown: Aalborg, Denmark
Hailing from northern Denmark, Nikolaj Ehlers (pronounced “Ee-lers”) has taken the QMJHL by storm in his rookie season thus far, leading all rookies and ranking ninth overall in the entire league with 47 points (20G, 27A) through 34 GP. Ehlers is also a remarkable plus-26 on the season. He trails only Jonathan Drouin in the point-scoring department, but with Drouin injured, Ehlers looks to leapfrog him within the next few games, trailing him by only three points.
Prior to his Halifax days, Ehlers played junior hockey for EHC Biel in the National League in Europe. In 11 regular season games for Biel, Ehlers scored only 1 goal and 1 assist before emerging in the playoffs with 3 assists in 7 games.
Adam French of hockeybuzz.com had this to say of the dynamic Danish winger:
He’s an explosive skater with game breaking speed and an excellent wrist shot. He scores a lot of goals off the rush and loves to cut into the middle of the ice and go into the danger zones. He’s a pretty good puck handler and needs to be with his speed. Like a lot of wingers he needs some work on his play without the puck.
Ehlers joined a team coming off a Memorial Cup Championship, never getting a chance to play with the majority of the core of that team – Nathan MacKinnon, Martin Frk , or Trey Lewis. The latter of the two were forced to move on from Halifax because they were overage players, while MacKinnon (#1 overall in the 2013 NHL draft) was retained by his NHL club, the Colorado Avalanche. However, Ehlers did get the chance to play alongside two key cogs from that team in Jonathan Drouin and Zachary Fucale. Although Drouin has missed a significant amount of time with a concussion, many have speculated that Ehlers’ production is thanks in large part to Drouin. Despite this, Ehlers is still regarded as a top prospect in the upcoming draft.
The young Dane was just recently promoted by CSS to an A-rated player from his previous B-rating. He was also one of seven QMJHL players invited to the CHL Top Prospects game which will take place in Calgary on January 15, 2014. Don’t be surprised to see Ehlers selected with a top-ten pick in the draft and go on to play in the NHL as an 18 year old.