Flyers Project Profile – Philly Sports
Simon Nemec, 18, is a Slovak defender who plays for HK Nitra in the Slovak Extraliga. Could he suit the Flyers?
Another double-entry right-handed defenseman in the 2022 NHL Draft is Simon Nemec. He is ranked third among European skaters in the NHL’s Central Scouting Rankings and is guaranteed to be an early first-round selection. Nemec is considered the best defender in the entire draft class alongside David Jiricek.
In 39 games played with HK Nitra during the 2021-2022 regular season, Nemec scored 26 points (1G, 25A), and had a plus/minus of +13. In the playoffs, he appeared in 19 games and scored 17 points (5G, 12A), with a plus/minus of +2. He also represented Slovakia at the Junior World Championships, Winter Olympics and IIHF World Championships.
Simon Nemec’s skating is a key part of his style of play. His first strides are fast, which benefits his two-way mentality. His transitions from offense to defense are already elite and that makes him a dangerous player on and off the puck.
Nemec’s puck handling and awareness are strong. He knows how to locate and set up his teammates with a breakout pass, and his shooting from the point is impressive. His first-class vision allows him to get the puck to the net in traffic. Nemec doesn’t hesitate when he sees a shooting opportunity and he’s not afraid to let it rip.
During the transition to defense, Simon Nemec does not let go of the accelerator. His robust stick control allows him to break up plays and his aggressiveness to join in a rush helps force turnovers.
Nemec isn’t the tallest defenseman at 6-foot-1 and he doesn’t usually aim for a big hit. However, he can use his body and smooth skating to push his opponents down the boards to end a game and change the momentum.
There are almost no weak points in Nemec’s game, he really is a complete defender. One flaw that sometimes shows up, however, is his decisions with the puck. Nemec more than once found himself trapped between several players as he raced towards the net. He sometimes tries to do a lot, which can lead to turnovers and being out of position. His willingness to lead and join an attacking rush is a huge advantage, but he can get overconfident in his abilities.
His lack of physicality might worry some, but that won’t distract GMs from the skills he provides.
Nemec is very similar to Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi. Both players aren’t the most physical, but with their sharp skating abilities, offensive awareness and quick transitions to defense, they know how to shut down and cause their opponent problems.
Josi is a franchise defenseman with the Predators and arguably the best in the league. Nemec has the potential to become a No. 1 defenseman on an NHL team.
Is Simon Nemec made for the Flyers?
The Flyers lack talent in right defense and also with right-handed defensemen in general. Nemec would most certainly add much-needed support to a struggling blue line and could become a franchise talent in Philadelphia.
If Nemec is still on the board when the Flyers make their pick, it would be unwise to let him pass.
Photo credit: Alex McIntyre