Photo Credit: Miroslav Slavik / HK Nitra
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Šimon Nemec is a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft. Nemec was born in Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia and played youth hockey for the local club, HK Liptovsky Mikulas. If you are unfamiliar with Slovakian geography, Liptovsky Mikulas is not far from the Polish/Slovak border (nearest Slovak border town is Trstená).
Nemec has been playing at the highest level in Slovakian hockey (Tipos Extraliga) since his 2019-2020 season. In his 2019-2020 season, he split his time between Tipos Extraliga, Slovak 2. Liga and Slovakia U20 hockey. After the conclusion of the season, in league play, he has solely played in Tipos Extraliga.
Nemec’s Canadian Hockey League (CHL) rights are owned by the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. He was selected fourth overall by Cape Breton in the 2021 CHL Import Draft. But, per Matej Deraj of McKeen’s Hockey, Nemec prefers to play his draft year season in Slovakia. In the below tweet, you will find a thread in which Deraj refers to an article from Sport.sk that states Nemec’s interest in staying in Slovakia for the 2021-2022 season.
D.O.B – February 15, 2004
Nationality – Slovakia
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –192 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right
Nemec’s Style Of Play
When there are multiple teammates engaged in a puck battle on one half-wall and his defensive partner his pinched up, Nemec shifts behind the puck battle at the blue line incase the opposition grabs a hold of the puck and drives up the ice. If an attacker is facing the corner in his own zone and it seems that he is getting a pass, Nemec will draw in and put pressure on him. He will opt to blindside him and force a quick turnover in possession once the attacker nets the puck. He’s also shown the ability to dart after loose pucks on a dime when the puck is heading towards the neutral zone.
Occasionally, you will see Nemec pinch up a little too far in and that caused him to take longer to go back to the defensive zone when the attack gathered control of the puck and began to drive the rush out of the zone. That will leave his defensive partner in the lurch with a potential 2-on-1 or 3-on-1.
I question his judgement in puck movement at times. In general, you will see him struggle to out-work the back check, right off the zone entry on the rush he drives to the half-wall but gets swallowed by pressure. There are instances in which he will carry the puck into the offensive zone on the power play with two attackers on him. Instead of throwing the puck down the boards, he turned his back to them and realized he was stuck. So he skated back into the neutral zone and turned the puck over. Nemec should work on identifying potential pressure and finding a teammate in the neutral zone or just inside of the offensive zone to cause one of the attackers to break loose and shift towards Nemec’s teammate.
Not only does Nemec struggle to get around the backcheck, but he doesn’t have the stick-handling ability to shift around pressure with ease. He will attempt to wind-mill around an attacker along the boards, but will lose control of the puck when trying to complete the wind-mill.
Nemec does struggle to trap possession of passes. He’ll be on the point on the power play and will be sent a pass from the half-wall to him. Nemec bobbles the puck immediately after receiving the pass.
When you watch Nemec, you notice just how dominant he is on the offensive blue-line. Nemec does a good job of toeing the line on the power play. He completes soft swift passes when distributing the puck at 5v5 or on the power play. Nemec uses deception to his advantage when distributing the puck. He likes to be deceptive and use body language. You will notice him raise his stick like he’s appearing to try a one-timer at the blue-line, but instead he distributes a pass and fools the attack. When looking to pass to the slot from the point, he’ll try to be deceptive and make the attackers believe he is looking to complete a wrist shot instead. He will sell it by using a wrist shot wind up.
When taking shots from the point and the perimeter, he is slightly inconsistent. He will struggle with his accuracy to get shots on net from the perimeter. At the blue-line, you will see him attempt wrist shots, but they either go wide or hit the post. With that being said, he has found success with his one-timer on the power play this season.
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.
Looks to play prevent defense in the slot. If the puck carrier is in the corner but on the other side of the defensive zone, Nemec will go to the slot and look to take a way a passing lane. When manning the slot, Nemec deploys tight pressure at the slot and his stick blade will be perpendicular to the attacker to make the attacker believe that Nemec is looking to poke-check.
If a puck carrier is still at the perimeter or beyond, Nemec won’t focus solely on him. He will also focus on the attacker who is headed to the slot. Nemec looks to take away a passing lane and force the attacker to shoot from low danger. After a shot from the point and Nemec is in the slot, he’ll push a forward out of the slot to avoid them netting possession off of the rebound.
Ideally, I’d like to see Nemec to be quicker with puck movement when facing the forecheck. There are many situations in which it takes him slightly too long to figure out what he wants to do with the puck.
But, it’s not just that he needs to be quicker with his decision-making. Vision improvements are needed as well. When moving the puck up the ice and looking to create a zone exit pass, Nemec will pass behind his back without using peripheral vision to identify a teammate to pass to and that ultimately gives the puck away to an attacker in the neutral zone. The Slovakian defender will consistently struggle with identifying open teammates especially when skating up the boards and looking to pass behind himself.
While he does have vision issues at times when looking to complete passes, he also needs to work on passing wind-up on lateral breakout passes to more-centered ice. Even though he can find challenges with lateral passing, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t an effective passer when looking to breakout. Nemec completes a lot of crisp tape to tape feeds for zone exit passes. Not only are they short tape to tape feeds, but he also has the ability to generate excellent swift delivered stretch passes to forwards in the neutral zone. While he can generate those elegant stretch passes, there are plenty of instances in which she struggles to connect on those. But, we will touch on that later on.
Similar to his puck movement struggles in the offensive zone, you will notice that Nemec will struggle to outwork the forecheck and gets pinned in at the boards. He will also struggle to net possession of a loose puck when along the boards and encountering tighter pressure.
When looking to complete defensive recoveries, he will display good stick-handling reach when picking up a loose puck in the defensive zone. He will use his reach to his advantage when vying with an attacker in a loose puck battle.
Like we discussed in the offensive zone portion, he can be deceptive with his body language in the defensive zone and will use that to his advantage. Lures the forechecker in by looking down at the puck and changing the tempo/pace of play. He’ll pause himself to manipulate the forecheck into thinking that he’s having a hard time finding a teammate to pass to. That fools the forechecker and allows Nemec to open up ice for himself.
In addition, you will also notice that he will use body language manipulation to look one way to the corner, fool the attacker and skate behind the net. That allows him to dodge the attacker, regroup and find open ice.
Sometimes, I will question his defensive positioning. He will move too far up to engage in a puck battle and ignored the attacking winger who was behind him and open. The attacker who nets the puck in the puck battle, passes in between Nemec and his defensive partner to the attacking winger. The winger now has the puck in high danger and no one is covering him.
When completing pass attempts in the defensive zone, I’ve noticed a lot of rolling puck zone exit passes and the intended recipient couldn’t grab a hold of possession. But, even though he doesn’t encounter rolling puck pass issues every time, he does struggle to connect on zone exit passes when he’s right at the blue-line and Nemec is aiming to pass to a winger in the neutral zone along the half-wall. For the most part, a lot of this can be chalked up to his wind-up and how much power he is putting in his pass attempts. When he exerts too much power in his wind-up, he finds himself struggling to complete stretch passes and traditional tape-to-tape passes.
Nemec struggles to think on his feet. Similar to issues that we explained that occur in the offensive and defensive zones, Nemec will struggle to identify attackers in the neutral zone. He’ll skate right into three attackers boxing him in. He will dumps the puck into the offensive zone when pressure comes for him, but will usually give up way too much time to the attacker and only dumps the puck when the attacker gets way too close. In addition, he needs to be more cautious when dumping the puck to not dump right to the attacker. Nemec needs to be quicker with how he processes the attack’s movement. In addition, he needs to be more cautious when dumping the puck to not dump right to the attacker.
He will find ways to avert pressure by playing the puck off the boards to himself, should he run into pressure along the rush. But, it isn’t a solution that Nemec deploys consistently.
Like we mentioned in the defensive zone portion, he will encounter issues on lateral passes in the neutral zone. Struggles to complete a centered pass when on the rush in the neutral zone.
When he doesn’t have the puck but his teammates are on a breakout, sometimes he will act as a forward, go to the blue line next to the offensive zone and call for his teammates to complete a stretch pass to him.
When defending in the neutral zone, if his winger is playing the puck carrier who is rushing into the zone, Nemec hangs back a bit and lets the winger focus on the puck carrier. In general, Nemec deploys quality man to man coverage in the neutral zone and in the defensive zone with players cutting through the middle. The Slovakian defender will keeps good pace with a forward who is weaving around the neutral zone without the puck. Nemec knows that the forward is headed to blue-line to create a passing opportunity for the puck carrier. So, Nemec stays neck and neck with him as a preventative measure.
When defending against the attack circling the zone, he will move laterally with the same skate pushes for acceleration, instead of alternating with crossovers. While he will implement short skate pushes to get him moving, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t utilize quality crossovers. When in transition, he loves to deploy a few crossovers in succession to get the motor running when looking to move the puck up the ice. He doesn’t just use them for accelerating in transition, he will also deploy them to push himself along the defensive zone blue-line to cover puck movement in a 2-on-1 situation. His crossovers will allow him to shift over in time and force the puck carrier to dump the puck. You will also notice Nemec utilizing crossovers for acceleration when trying to get enough space to dump the puck out of the defensive zone when heavy attack is on him. In general, Nemec has a good hop that he uses out of the gate to move to crossovers. He’ll use a few crossovers in the defensive zone and then go in full stride into the neutral zone. Nemec has good straight line speed and excellent power stride skate extensions. He has to shown to have excellent stride length and quality ankle flexion.
With Nemec, you are netting a top pairing defender. While some of the report might scream that he is stronger offensively than he is defensively, he is well-rounded and well-adversed to defending the rush and neutralizing threats in his own zone.
November 10, 2021
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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