The 5’11 winger Nikolaj Ehlers first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets 2014 NHL Entry Draft hails from Aalborg Denmark, making him the Jets first high profile European pick.
He very well may be the Jets best draft pick thus far.
We finish off our summer prospect profile series at the top of thill, #1.
Here is Ehlers’ Player Cohort Success over the since his pre-draft eligible season:
PCS% is the percentage of similar players in height, league, scoring, and age that made the NHL, while PCS points per game is the production typical of those that did make it.
Ehlers did well enough as a 16-year-old while playing in the Swiss junior leagues to earn a 11 game trial at the pro-level. The Swiss junior and pro-leagues though do not have much NHL talent coming from it and are largely ignored by scouts.
It was understandable that when Ehlers came over to the QMJHL as an import for the then stacked Halifax Mooseheads. The 2013-14 Mooseheads lost Nathan MacKinnon, but still sported Jonathan Drouin.
Ehlers lit the Q on fire, scoring 104 points in 63 games, good enough for 6th best points per game in the league and second best when adjusting for age.
When some were asked about this player ripping up the QMJHL, many simply assumed that Ehlers was benefiting from playing with Drouin.
In actuality, Ehlers was predominately playing on the Mooseheads second line, away from Drouin, except on the power play. This also meant that Ehlers was receiving less even strength ice time than a first liner. Despite all this, Ehlers was still 5th in the QMJHL for even strength points per game.
Still, suspicion of being the benefactor of Drouin and other factors led Ehlers to fall to the Jets at 9th overall. The next year the Mooseheads had a weaker roster and many suspected Ehlers to take a step back.
Instead, Ehlers put up similar points in 12 less games. Ehlers connected on over 57 per cent of his teams goals in games he dressed for, the highest in the entire CHL that season. He then led the QMJHL in scoring for the playoffs, despite only playing two rounds, with 31 points in 14 games.
Suffice to say, Ehlers proved that he was not just a benefactor, but could drive offense.
Jets fans will probably enjoy watching Nik “Roadrunner” Ehlers this season, as there is a top-nine roster position open on the wing. All indications point to the Jets giving him every opportunity to earn it and Ehlers having nothing left to prove in junior.
If he does happen to be cut though, Ehlers has mentioned interest in returning to the Swiss pro leagues.
Here are some highlights of a four point game by Nik Ehlers, courtesy of Jets Nations’ own Anthony Lenting: