Photo Credit: HV71
Zion Nybeck is a diminutive Swedish winger who managed to put up the most points in SuperElit history this year for an u-18 prospect. Future Hall of Famer Anže Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings might be the only bigger offensive threat in that junior league’s history at a similar age. Though it is worth noting most players of that caliber are already in the SHL full-time at the same age.
If Nybeck was 6’0 he would be in contention for a top 10 pick… and is certainly a top 20 talent if you ignore his size. In this Swedish draft class he has been overshadowed by Lucas Raymond, Alexander Holtz and Noel Gunler, but that is not his fault, as it is one of the most talented Swedish forward classes in history.
D.O.B – May 12, 2002
Nationality – Sweden
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Height – 5’8
Weight – 176 lbs
Position – Left Wing/Right Wing
Handedness – Left
Nybeck’s Style Of Play
Nybeck plays the game bigger than he is. He has a simply immense work rate and indomitable drive underpinning his game. His fore-checking means that opposition defensemen rarely have time to make clean passes and find lanes. He will go to the danger areas around the net and along the boards and battle with all his might. The Swede has some Danny Briere-like qualities to him in the offensive zone. He is very agile, and has good speed – though he probably could do with getting a bit faster to make the jump to the next level given his size. He has a high hockey IQ that is palpable every time he hits the ice, and he sees gaps in defenses that most players don’t. In terms of shot he has a nice release that he gets off quickly. His soft hands also mean that he can make opposition players look silly at times. But he is not just offence only. Nybeck is a very good penalty killer who is also attentive to his own zone at 5v5.
Mats Zuccarello, Right Wing, Minnesota Wild
It may seem slightly clichéd to compare one diminutive Scandinavian winger to another… but in this case the similarities between them mean that it is well deserved. Like his Norwegian counterpart, Nybeck is not just defined by being small, speedy and skilled. He possesses – as the Wild winger does – the heart of a lion, and also has just as much tenacity as he has talent. Both are often first in on a fore-check, don’t mind going to the danger areas, and are very capable in their own zone. These skills also transfer to the penalty-kill, where both can play and be dangerous. Their high hockey IQ’s and vision mean that they can dissect the offensive zone with their play-making ability. Nybeck, however, has a slightly better release than Zuccarello, and a broader frame. The man from Oslo is slightly faster than the young Swede though.
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