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2022 Draft Prospect Profile: Simon Nemec is a two-way defenseman

Most think he’s a top five pick, but if not...

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Ice Hockey - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 6 Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

It’s that time of year again! We’re less than a month away from the first round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, on Thursday, July 7. The Columbus Blue Jackets will be picking at #6 and #12.

Simon Nemec

Position: Defenseman
Team: HK Nitra (Slovakia)
Date of Birth: February 15, 2004
Birthplace: Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 192 lbs
Shoots: Right

Rankings

Ranked #4 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #6 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #3 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #9 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #4 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #5 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #3 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #5 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #4 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #3 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #2 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #5 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #9 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #3 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY

2021-22 Stats

Games Played: 39
Goals: 1
Assists: 25
Points: 26
PIM: 20
Plus/Minus: 13

In today’s NHL, a lot of emphasis is put on the offensive ability of a defenseman. The Norris Trophy has become an award given to the defenseman with the most points, not necessarily the best defender. As a result, the top defensive prospects in the NHL Draft are often top offensive weapons. Each team is always on the lookout for the next Cale Makar or Victor Hedman.

Simon Nemec is touted as an offensive-minded defenseman that shows a lot of promise as a puck mover. Some of his highlights show him deking forwards and defenders and dishing some nice passes to create scoring chances. He’s a good skater and plays well in transition. If you look a little closer at the scouting reports, however, you see that there’s more to the player. Nemec shows good hockey sense and is a competent defender. Those traits likely raise his floor if he turns out to have average offensive skill in the NHL.

What sticks out to me in the scouting reports is that Nemec could be a good partner for Zach Werenski. Most don’t expect the Slovakian to light up the NHL scoresheet, but he could possess the skill and instincts to be a solid number two. He’s a righty, a good skater, a puck mover, and shows good defensive instincts. He may be exactly what Jarmo Kekalainen is looking for in a partner for Werenski. It’s very likely Nemec will be gone before the Blue Jackets pick, but if he’s not, I’d be shocked if Jarmo passed him up.

Scouting Reports

Nemec is a calculated and poised three-zone defender who is capable of organizing play from the top of the zone, executing through seams in coverage at a high level, and starting and leading his fair share of rushes. He’s got great edges and four-way mobility. And he also regularly flashes sneaky deception, which blends beautifully with his rare maturity for his age. Though I wouldn’t say he’s a dynamic, game-breaking type offensively, I see plenty of calmness and talent, he knows when and how to push (and when and how to sit back and defend), he’s already got pro size, he plays a polished game, and he’s a righty. I expect him to become the best defenceman out of Slovakia since Zdeno Chara and a true No. 2 (and maybe even No. 1) guy who plays an effective, efficient, play-driving modern game. The game just comes easy to him. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

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. When asserting himself into puck battles, not only will he use his upper body strength, but he will also use his hips to swing towards the attacker to try to push him off the puck. - Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting

The 6-1 defender plays an offensively-minded, but solid two-way game and excels at both ends of the ice. What separates Nemec from many others, is his excellent hockey sense and ability to read the game. His smarts are on display in both offensive and defensive situations. He is very effective at leading the breakout, utilizing his mobility to escape pressure and his vision to make an accurate first pass. Nemec doesn’t hesitate to activate and join the rush when he sees an opportunity, either. He shows off his great puck skills when carrying it up the ice in transition, and when he controls the offensive blue line. - Dobber Prospects

Highlights