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Kraken 2k22 Draft Guide: Simon Nemec is the golden product for Slovakia’s blueline

Moving along to the consensus #4 ...for the most part.

Hey there! It’s been awhile. We’ve been setting up our offseason content, and as the NHL season officially winds to a close we are ready to talk about some draft prospects ahead of the Entry Draft in July! We’ll be talking individual players, as well as some cheat sheets to understand the more esoteric parts of hockey’s junior systems, and more! Let’s start with some suitors for the 4th overall pick!

Basic Profile:

Nemec is a very important player. Not just to the Kraken as a potential pick for round one that could be a major contributor going forward...but to his home country as well.

Slovakia is well-known in the NHL primarily for the biggest player to ever lace up a pair of Skates: Zdeno Chara. And while they’ve occasionally sent a forward or two over, they’re more known for him or for retired veteran Miroslav Šatan, which is not pronounced the way you think it is, but that wasn’t stopping years of bootleg merch salesman from making hockey stick pentagram designs on t-shirts.

And that’s sort of the way things were up until a major scandal revealed deep corruption in the Slovak Hockey Federation that was quickly replaced and ripped out, with their new president being Miro Šatan himself, and he dedicated the last eight years or so to rebuilding Slovakia’s hockey program into something great.

Which brings us to now; the Slovakian hockey crop is at long last ready for harvest. You already know about their top forward, now meet their top defender. Nemec’s extremely strong campaign with HK Nitra in his home country, his bronze medal at the Winter Olympics, and his near half-hour-a-game play at the shortened (and soon to be returned to play) 2022 World Juniors and work at the World Championships might just have sealed him becoming the highest picked Slovak defenseman in almost 17 years.

What he’s already good at:

Well for one thing, he’s played against grown-ass, grizzled-veteran men types and Nitra got all the way to the Extraliga final, and then turned around and joined Slovakia’s national team to the World Championships and will more than likely be a member of the World Junior roster, I’d say he’s far from intimidated from playing with players older/bigger than he is.

But for more concrete skills, Nemec was able to play at the level Nitra needed from him primarily though excellent skating and all-three-zones awareness. Nemec won’t wait for the offense to try and start before him, because often times he can just start it himself and drag the puck up ice. Given that he’s a defenseman, his goal totals aren’t going to wow anybody (yet), but where his true value comes is as a setup man; Nemec is obnoxious up at the offensive zone point, where he can read the incoming backcheck like a book, and find just the right seam in the defense to get another skater a shooting lane.

Of course, he’s not just a forward masquerading as a defender, what’s made him the kind of prospect that could make history for the old country is that he’s an exceptionally smart defender: he’s willing to get his hands dirty by taking the body and trying to take a body sure, but he shows an awareness of what the forechecking team is going to do that is far beyond his years and will react to plays well before they get a chance to pop off. He will happily close any passing or shooting lanes with stick work and positioning, which that aforementioned great skating makes all the easier for him.

What he needs to work on:

Honestly? Shooting. Nemec is the kind of player that will set up a great many goals, but he himself doesn’t score many, which is kind of strange, given that he can shoot, it’s just a matter of making him do it. He’s definitely a guy who will try for the rebound goal, but only just the rebound: He’s not taking a ton of exceptionally dangerous shots and given his offensive instincts, that just feels like there’s something left on the table for him.

The second, and arguably more useful to his development, is patience. Nemec can defend well, especially in the slot, which is right in front of the goalie and is one of the highest danger areas of the ice. He knows he can break up plays and passes to start transition easily, and he knows how to use his stick to do that and rob forecheckers of potential lanes...but his Achilles' heel on defense is being willing to let that shot come to him, rather than start chasing his man away from the slot. That’s not the worst problem in the world, if you can do it, you’ve turned a potential chance-against into a potential break, but if you get’re out of position, and that’s a place your opponent can slide a forward. He will recognize his mistake, but it’s still a bit of a flaw in his game, and that’s where careful coaching can really make him something special.

Personal Thoughts:

The question that will be boiling the brains of the ‘Yotes and Kraken is what you want in a blueliner that could end up in your top 4 someday: A player with sheer brawn and aggression like David Jiříček has (more on him coming soon), or you want a more dynamic skater who can QB a power play and get the puck out with good positioning and stick checking?

If you’re the Kraken, the answer is probably “both”, but if you had to pick one...which would you choose?

Given the sheer size on display on the Kraken blue line right now, I think someone like Nemec who’s got the hockey smarts that he has could be extremely useful for a burgeoning and building team, especially given his output at the highest levels of both international and domestic league play.

Player Stats:

Nemec’s Stats

Year Team League Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM
Year Team League Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM
2019-20 HK Nitra U20 Slovakia U20 13 3 5 8 4
HK Nitra Tipo Extraliga 12 0 3 3 0
HK Levice (Loan) Slovakia 2nd League 20 2 6 8 18
Slovakia U18 Under-18 International 21 6 10 16 8
2020-21 HK Nitra Tipo Extraliga 37 2 17 19 12
Slovakia International 10 0 3 3 2
2021-22 HK Nitra Tipo Extraliga 39 1 25 26 20
Slovakia International 10 0 3 3 2