With the second pick of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils have selected Simon Nemec from HK Nitra of the Slovak Extraliga
Related: Related: 2022 NHL Draft Tracker
About Simon Nemec
Simon Nemec is one of the most exciting prospects in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. A smooth skater who plays well in all three zones with and without the puck on his stick, Nemec has the ability to break a game wide open with his passing prowess, use of space, mobility and stickwork. Though he may be a little bit of a risk taker, his skillset coupled with the production he’s put together at just 17 years old (he turned 18 in February) in a men’s league sets him apart from his peers.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Nemec already has solid NHL size and stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs 192 pounds. Right-shot defenders are always highly coveted in the NHL, and players with Nemec’s skillset are also always highly coveted. Putting two and two together, it’s not surprising to see him taken so highly this season.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“If there has been one name that has been garnering attention for quite some time, it’s Slovak defender Simon Nemec. I took notice of him with his play in 2020-21 both at the World Juniors and his play at the senior level HK Nitra. Whether it’s at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, World Juniors, Men’s World Championship or Olympics, the 18-year-old, is proving that he is capable of excelling and keeping up with players much older than him.
“Nemec is an outstanding, two-way, puck moving defenseman. The thing that stands out the most in regards to his play, is his poise and confidence when he’s on the ice. Every decision he makes is with conviction as he displays high-end hockey sense. Even if he’s facing a great amount of pressure or makes a high risk move, he doesn’t panic as he has excellent patience and control. He has great body positioning and does a great job of evading and fending off opposing players, when in that situation.
“Nemec is a very smooth skater with excellent movement as he does an outstanding job of setting up an attack with his zone entries. Even if there isn’t an open lane, he’s able to quickly assess his options and find the open space in order to gain entry in the offensive zone with his quickness and mobility. He’s very deceptive, as he does a great job at drawing in the opposition and can turn on a dime with his edgework and create space for him to carry the play forward. There are times, where it may not be the cleanest entry and he may be quickly surrounded by the opposition, but he’s always trying to get something going. Even if the play gets broken up, he does a nice job to try and recover the puck and maintain possession.
“Nemec is a very strong and accurate puck distributor. He has great awareness and vision to locate his teammates with crisp and clean passes, especially on the breakout. He also has a very great point shot as he has tremendous power. He has great control of the puck, but there are times where he gets too fancy with his dekes and moves.”
How This Affects the Devils’ Plans
A future top pairing of Nemec and Luke Hughes would leave any NHL coach salivating and that’s now a reality for the New Jersey Devils. He brings high-end skating and offensive ability to the blue line with future top-pairing potential. This pick gives the Devils a lot of mobility and talent on the back end to complement high-end forwards like Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt. The Devils are overflowing with incredible young players and Nemec fits right in with that group.
My name is Austin Stanovich, as a lifelong player and fan I’m hoping to bring my own unique perspective on the hockey world, specifically covering the Los Angeles Kings. As a SoCal native I grew up a Kings fan, and after graduating from Long Beach State in 2020 I’ve joined The Hockey Writers crew as a columnist for the Kings.