With the 9th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Winnipeg Jets select – Nikolaj Ehlers. Craig Button called him, “the Danish Drouin.” Others have compared him to Patrick Kane. But the 18 year old Aalborg, Denmark native will have a chance to make a name for himself with the Winnipeg Jets. Born on February 14, 1996, he weighs in at 5’11, 165 lbs. He’s known for having dynamic speed and skating ability, with silky hands and a shot that’s feared around the QMJHL.
Ehlers was drafted from the Halifax Mooseheads. Although a teammate of Jonathan Drouin’s, they played the majority of the season on separate lines. Ehlers finished the season with 49 goals, 55 assists for 104 points, with a rating of +65. Ehlers totalled only 4 points less than Drouin but beat him in +/- by +15. Ehlers is eligible for two more years of CHL hockey.
It was his first season playing in the QMJHL as he was previously playing closer to home in the Swiss Elite League, and representing Denmark on an international level. As a 14 year old rookie in the Swiss Elite League, Ehlers put up 30 points in 28 games. Pretty impressive for a grade nine student.
The NHL comparison to Patrick Kane is intriguing for Jets fans. You can tell by looking at his numbers, Ehlers brings a very balanced yet explosive offensive game to a team that sometimes lacks just that. His ratio of Goals to Assists is nearly 1:1. His skating and puck skills are far above average. He is however, a little bit on the small side – as most Junior Hockey players are. Scouts say that if he can continue to develop physically (most saying an additional 20 lbs are required) that he could have the speed, hands, shot, and off the charts hockey IQ to rival that of a player similar to Kane. It bodes well for the Jets that the people around Ehlers continue to praise him for his dedication, and say that he’s working hard to round out his game.
Ehlers himself was quite nervous on the day of the draft. But once he was selected, he had only good things to say about the Jets organization and the future, moving forward. “This has been a dream since I was little. To stand here in a Jets Jersey is a feeling I can’t describe. It’s amazing. I can’t wait to get started. I’m happy to be joining the Winnipeg Jets.” When he was asked to describe himself as a hockey player he said, “I’m a player that likes to use my speed. I’m very fast. Hopefully I’ll be able to score a lot of goals in Winnipeg. I’m a good hockey player.”
This kid loves to play hockey. He (himself) recognizes he has potential. He works hard. He wants to play for our team. Imagine when he realizes the sense of community and support from our fan base. I think this is a home run by Kevin Cheveldayoff. Yet again – another draft day success. I have to give him credit, and re-affirm that he’s doing a good job in giving us a future. I do hope he pursues a big centerman for the team now, but that’s an issue to be addressed in the beginning of July.