After completing his sixth season with the Winnipeg Jets, right-winger Nikolaj Ehlers has proven he is a critical piece to the Jets’ lineup. The first-round pick has played 416 games during his time in the NHL and earned 303 career points so far. He has an eye for the puck and some serious speed on the ice. Here are four fun facts about the Jets’ number 27.
1. Ice Runs in Ehlers’ Blood
Ehlers may be the most notable of his family when it comes to hockey success, but there’s certainly a love for the game that runs deep beyond the Jets player himself. Heinz Ehlers, who the New York Rangers drafted in 1984 in the ninth round, 188th overall, is the forward’s father. Heinz currently coaches the SCL Tigers in the National League A and Denmark’s men’s national ice hockey team. He played hockey for more than 20 years in Europe, earning himself multiple awards. The most prestigious of the bunch being a 2014 inductee into the Danish Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.
The hockey family blood doesn’t stop there. Nikolaj’s older brother Sebastian Ehlers plays for the Odense Bulldogs in Odense, Denmark, alongside his cousin, Oliver True. Alexander True (Oliver’s brother and Nikolaj’s cousin) played for the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda (the San Jose Sharks’ affiliate team) and the Sharks in the 2020-21 season.
In an interview with the NHL Network, the Jets player said his mother’s brothers also played hockey at the national level. All in all, Ehlers comes by his talent, honestly.
2. Ehlers Is a League Traveler
Despite Ehlers only playing for one team at the NHL level, he is used to jumping around ice hockey leagues and countries. Born in Denmark, the 25-year-old started playing hockey in Germany at the age of four. He later moved back to Denmark and then out to Switzerland to play hockey there — the many moves being in response to his father’s coaching jobs. In 2013, Ehlers relocated to North America to play for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) Halifax Mooseheads.
During his time as a rookie for the Mooseheads, he earned 104 points and finished fourth in the league in goals. Ehlers also led the QMJHL’s first-year players in points (104), assists (55), and goals (49).
His success with Halifax didn’t end there. The Dane had a plus-65 rating, giving him the lead in the QMJHL. He won multiple awards with the franchise, including the QMJHL Offensive Rookie of the Year (Michel Bergeron Trophy), QMJHL Best Professional Prospect (Mike Bossy Trophy), and QMJHL Rookie of the Year. In the same season, Ehlers was selected to join the QMJHL’s All-Rookie Team and its Second All-Star Team.
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At the junior and senior level, Ehlers played for Denmark, where he represented his country at two World Championships. The Jets’ star is well-seasoned in playing hockey at many levels and in different countries around the world.
3. 2016-17: Ehlers’ Standout Season
This past season, Ehlers collected 46 points, 21 goals, and 25 assists in 47 games. He completed the 2020-21 playoff season with three points but only played a total of six postseason games, missing about a month of regular season hockey and the Jets’ first two playoff games due to an upper-body injury.
In Ehlers’ first game back in the playoffs this season, he scored two goals, one of these being an impressive overtime winner in Game 3. The Jets then went on to complete their series sweep over the Edmonton Oilers.
These are impressive numbers, and they aren’t even Ehlers’ best to date. During the Jets’ 2016-17 season, he skated away with a career-high in points, accumulating 64 in total. He also scored 25 goals, and in every season to follow, Ehlers earned at least 21 goals. The right-winger has been more than productive during his time in Winnipeg.
4. Ehlers Is Known for Acts of Kindness
The winger’s on-ice skill is what Ehlers is mainly recognized for. Yet, it’s hard to ignore his acts of kindness in the NHL that were big hits on social media and the hockey community.
In the second round of the 2020-21 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Mark Scheifele was penalized with a four-game suspension for charging Jake Evans of the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1. As Evans was face down on the ice, stunned and unable to move, a brawl broke out next to the Habs player. Ehlers stepped in front of the fight, spreading his arms out to protect Evans from the craziness happening right next to him.
The moment was captured in a remarkable photograph that circulated on social media:
Another moment worth mentioning happened back in February of 2020, shortly before the NHL season shut down due to COVID-19. Ehlers made a great trade with a fan in the stands: a pack of candy for a puck.
In the video above, Ehlers contemplates which pack of Tic Tacs he should take when the fan gives him two options. He points to one, and the young fan tosses it over the glass in exchange for a puck. Not your typical hockey trade, but it was a good one at that. Jets fans can hope this is the only trade Ehlers will be involved in for years to come.