2021-22 Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)
Date of Birth: May 25, 2004
Place of Birth: Mississauga, ON, Canada
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 170 pounds
Position: Center/Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 39th (amongst North American Skaters)
- Elite Prospects: 80th
- Peter Baracchini’s May Rankings: 82nd
- Smaht Scouting: 112th
- Craig Button’s Rankings: 58th
Nicholas Moldenhauer has had quite an eventful and scary draft year. His story begins with the effects of the pandemic. It ends with a strong finish to his draft year. And in-between, he went through a decision on where to play, a trade and then one of the scariest things to happen to any hockey player.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Moldenhauer was drafted by the OHL’s Ottawa 67s 20th overall in 2020. Because of the pandemic, Moldenhauer never got the chance to play for the 67s. He eventually appeared in six games for the Chicago Steel in 2020-21 after playing most of the season for the North Jersey Avalanche.
Then came the time for Moldenhauer to make a decision. He already lost an OHL season. Did he want to risk losing another? Ultimately the 67s traded his rights to the Sarnia Sting after he announced his intention to stay in the United States and with the Steel. It was a guaranteed season in his most important season to date. But then his world got turned upside down.
In a game against Team USA’s under-18 team, Moldenhauer suffered one of the scariest injuries any hockey player can face. During a puck battle, he took an opponent’s skate blade right in the face.
Moldenhauer had this happen to him after returning from an extended absence due to a virus that doctors were unable to diagnose. After an intense recovery that involved surgery, he was able to return to the ice.
While it can certainly be classified as a miracle that Moldenhauer was able to return after taking a skate blade to the face, a good portion of his season was gone. He had the task of making the most of the rest of his season to impress NHL teams.
To Moldenhauer’s credit, he was able to make an impression upon his return to the lineup. He was able to play 41 games for the Steel in 2021-22 while being a point per game player. He scored 18 goals and 43 points in those 41 games while showing flashes of his potential.
Moldenhauer’s game starts with his skating. It’s his best attribute. He’s especially good and dangerous in transition. He can create plays on the rush and can find the opening to set himself up in a good scoring position. He can also use his skating to close gaps on his opponents.
Moldenhauer is also a good playmaker and has shown an ability to finish. He was one of the hottest players at the end of the season. It was good enough for him to make Team Canada at the U18’s.
Questions with Moldenhauer start with his size. As with most players at this age, he needs to add muscle. This wasn’t helped by his extended layoff. The other big thing with him is consistency at both ends of the ice. He isn’t classified as a 200-foot player. While his skating and skill is evident, it can go missing in spurts. He can become an intriguing player with continued improvement away from the puck.
Overall whoever drafts Moldenhauer gets one of the better skaters in this draft who can add an offensive punch. It’s clear how much of a battler he is given what he’s had to overcome. He is primed to become one of the better adds in day two of the draft given what he does bring to the table.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Nicholas Moldenhauer — NHL Draft Projection
Moldenhauer’s presence at the NHL Combine in Buffalo suggests that enough NHL teams see his potential. The industry sees him anywhere from the second round to some time in the middle rounds. Should he start to slip past the third round teams should jump on the opportunity to draft someone who has clear NHL skills working for him.
“A great competitor with above-average skating mechanics and a refined two-way game, Moldenhauer excels at suppressing opponents’ chances by using his stick and body jointly to break down offensive sequences. He pushes through contact well, allowing him to get to loose pucks that others wouldn’t, and has great awareness in transition to find the best play and try it. Although his puck skills aren’t refined — his shot isn’t mechanically sound and his passes lack forethought and inventiveness at times — the prospect has enough pro-ready tools to make a decent impact on a middle-six, especially if surrounded by playmakers who can help him put his intensity and ability to dig up loose pucks to use. A healthy year and more exposure would almost certainly have made him a staple in the first two rounds, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him still on the board near the end of the third.” –Hadi Kalakeche, Dobber Prospects
“Moldenhauer is a speedy winger who impacts the game at both ends of the ice. His speed and puckhandling abilities allow him to contribute offensively and, despite being a smaller forward, he has no reservations about getting to the high-slot to generate quality scoring chances.” –Austin Broad, Future Considerations
“Moldenhauer is an excellent skater who can make highly skilled plays with the puck with pace. He’s dangerous in transition and off entries, but I don’t see him as a really celebreal player who can make a lot of plays. As a 5-foot-10 forward I’d like to see more offense from him overall or be a true 200-foot guy. So despite NHL speed and skill his role is unclear. -Corey Pronman, The Athletic (From NHL Draft 2022 top 127 prospects: Juraj Slafkovsky leads Corey Pronman’s list, 5/31/2022)
- Plus skater
- Skilled playmaker
- Transition play
Under Construction — Improvements to Make
- Play in defensive zone
- Size and strength
Moldenhauer’s potential will be determined by his continued improvement in overall consistency everywhere on the ice. His skating and puck skills are good enough to get to the NHL. He can make an impact if he continues to make strides in moments when he doesn’t have the puck.
Risk — 3/5, Reward — 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense — 7.5/10, Defense — 6/10
Moldenhauer was drafted in the first round of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection by the Ottawa 67s. He also was a member of Team Canada at the recently completed U18’s.
Nicholas Moldenhauer Statistics
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I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.