2021-22 Team: HK Nitra (Slovakia)
Date of Birth: Feb.15, 2004
Place of Birth: Liptovsky Mikulas, SVK
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 192 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 6th (among EU skaters)
- FC Hockey: 3rd
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 3rd
- Andrew Forbes’ January Rankings: 6th
- Matthew Zator’s February Rankings: 5th
- SMAHT Scouting Winter Rankings: 8th
- Bob McKenzie’s Mid-season Rankings: 9th
- Dobber Prospects Mid-season Rankings: 4th
- Recruit Scouting: 6th
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.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
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.
While he may not be able to find the back of the net compared to other seasons he’s played in, he does a great job of getting pucks through traffic and on net. He has a knack at putting the puck in a good spot for his teammates, either for a deflection or even for a rebound attempt. While the goal totals don’t show it this season, he has shown to have a powerful shot from the point. When he has a clear path, he will not second guess and throw it on net. When he’s quarter backing the power play, he has a quick wrist shot with great velocity and a powerful one timer.
Nemec’s defensive game is just as impressive as his offensive mindset. He has a very active stick, being able to get into the lane and break up plays in the middle of the ice with a block or perfectly timed stick check. As a result of his ability to jump into the rush, this helps him greatly in transition to force turnovers and lead an attack.
When he’s not forcing turnovers, Nemec does a great job with his positional play, keeping the puck carrier to the outside, applying pressure and converging on his opponents. I mentioned his body positioning when he has the puck, but Nemec is just as effective of getting the inside edge and battling for the puck to regain control. Even in one-on-one situations, he’s tough to go up against as he does a great job of tying up his man and boxing them out.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Simon Nemec- NHL Draft Projection
Based on the rankings that are out now, Nemec is slated to no doubt be a top-10 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. However, where he goes is anyone’s guess. Some outlets have him outside the top-five, while some – including here at The Hockey Writers– see him in that range based on his skillset and potential alone. If he continues to impress, it would be hard not to take him within the top-five.
“He’s a highly-skilled, puck-moving rearguard that has no problem putting up the points, even in the top men’s Slovak league. However, it’s his movement of the puck that is his stand-out quality. Whether it’s with his feet or with a pass, Nemec is relied on heavily by his team to get the puck up ice and he does so with relative ease. He’s a smooth skater, with a fluid, powerful stride and a good mix of crossovers in his movement. He can be a bit of a risk-taker, but the potential that Nemec shows is very much top-10 worthy.”– Josh Bell, FC Hockey
“His understanding of space is excellent and he uses his vision as well as his high hockey IQ on both the defensive and offensive sides of the puck. Defensively, he has great gap control and is great from a positioning standpoint, often disrupting passing lanes just by being in the right spots and using his stick properly. Offensively, he is extremely smart with super-precise passing ability. Nemec takes risks at times, but they often pay off.”– Samuel Tirpak, Dobber Prospects
“Nemec deploys excellent gap control in the corners and in medium danger situations. In my viewings, I noticed that he keeps good pace with the puck carrier behind his own net. Stays on him and doesn’t open up a gap as the puck carrier shifts from right to left along the boards. You’ll notice that he is quite physical in the corner, puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the attack and puts his stick blade to the puck to navigate the boards once asserted enough pressure.”– Josh Tessler, SMAHT Scouting
- Skating and mobility
- Passing abilities
- Strong in transition
- Poise and hockey IQ
- Defensive awareness
Under Construction- Improvements to Make
- Risk taker
- Consistency with puck control at times
Nemec has the potential to be a real impact two-way defender at the NHL level. Teams covet right -handed shots and he’s one of the best in this class, as he already has the poise and confidence. He’s an impact player that can do damage in any situation. He’s a top-pairing, power play quarter-back and shut down defender on the penalty kill. There’s no doubt that he’s going to have a bright future based on his ability to get better against tougher competition.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk- 3/5, Reward 4.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense- 7.5/10, Defense 7/10
Nemec was named a top-three player for Team Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship. In 2021-22, he captained Slovakia to a second-place finish at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, losing to Russia in the final. He was also named most valuable player of the tournament. He also won a bronze medal for Slovakia at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Simon Nemec Statistics
Peter is in his third year with The Hockey Writers, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and heading the Draft and Prospects section. He has previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. He currently is the co-host of the podcast Sticks in the 6ix and a frequent guest on Maple Leafs Lounge. Aside from hockey, he also enjoys drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.