Simon Nemec, 18, is a Slovakian defenseman who plays for HK Nitra in the Slovak Extraliga. Could he be a fit for the Flyers?
Simon Nemec is another right-handed two-way defenseman entering the 2022 NHL Draft. He’s ranked third amongst European skaters in the NHL Central Scouting Rankings and he’s guaranteed to be an early first-round selection. Nemec is considered to be the best defenseman in the entire draft class alongside David Jiricek.
In 39 games played with HK Nitra during the 2021-2022 regular season, Nemec scored 26 points (1G, 25A), and had a plus/minus of +13. During the playoffs, he appeared in 19 games and scored 17 points (5G, 12A), with a plus/minus of +2. He also represented Slovakia at the World Junior Championships, the Winter Olympic Games, and the IIHF World Championships.
Simon Nemec’s skating is a centerpiece of his playing style. His first few strides are quick, which benefits his two-way mentality. His transitions from offense to defense are already elite and it makes him a dangerous player on and off the puck.
Nemec’s puck-handling and awareness are strong. He knows how to locate and set up his teammates with a breakout pass, plus his shot from the point is impressive. His first-class vision allows him to get the puck on net through traffic. Nemec doesn’t hesitate when he sees an opportunity to take a shot and he isn’t afraid to let it rip.
When transitioning to defense, Simon Nemec doesn’t take his foot off the gas. His rugged stick-checking allows him to break up plays and his aggressiveness to join a rush helps force turnovers.
Nemec isn’t the biggest defenseman at 6-foot-1 and he usually isn’t aiming for a big hit. However, he can use his body and smooth skating to push his opponents along the boards to end a play and change the momentum.
There are almost no weak points in Nemec’s game, he is truly a complete defenseman. One flaw that sometimes appears, however, is his decisions with the puck. Nemec has found himself more than once being trapped between multiple players while rushing towards the net. He tries to do much at times, which can lead to turnovers and being out of position. His willingness to lead and join an offensive rush is a huge upside, but he can become overconfident in his abilities.
His lack of physicality could worry some, but it won’t turn general managers away from the skillset he provides.
Nemec is very similar to Nashville Predators defenseman, Roman Josi. Both players aren’t the most physical, but with their crisp skating abilities, offensive awareness, and quick transitions back to defense, they know how to shut down and cause problems for their opposition.
Josi is a franchise defenseman with the Predators and arguably the best in the league. Nemec has the potential to become a #1 defenseman on an NHL team.
Is Simon Nemec a fit for the Flyers?
The Flyers lack talent on right defense and also with right-handed defensemen in general. Nemec would most certainly add much-needed support to a struggling blue line and could develop into a franchise talent in Philadelphia.
If Nemec is still on the board when the Flyers go to make their pick, it would be unwise to pass up on him.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre