Photo Credit: James Doyle / Prince George Cougars
Nico Myatovic is a 2023 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who plays for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. Myatovic is from Prince George, British Columbia and played with the Cariboo Cougars organization. He was taken in the sixth round of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft by the Seattle Thunderbirds and made his WHL debut the following season (2020-2021).
This season, Myatovic tallied 30 goals and 30 assists in 68 games. The majority of his points were at 5v5 (49 points out of 60 points were at even strength). Myatovic does a good job of using his frame to establish presence in the slot and that has led to quite a few re-direction and rebound goals.
D.O.B – December 1, 2004
Nationality – Canadian
Draft Eligibility – 2023
Weight –181 lbs
Position – Right Wing
Handedness – Left
Myatovic’s Style Of Play
As I mentioned in the introduction, Myatovic generates quite a few points off of rebounds and deflections and he does so by cementing space for himself in high danger. He usually looks to position himself in the slot when his teammates are running the cycle in low danger. When his teammates are against the corner boards and facing a lot of pressure, Myatovic looks to provide a passing option along the boards. But, if you are watching Myatovic mid-cycle, more often then not he will be at net front screening the goaltender. This season, Myatovic has had quite a bit of success with rebounds, deflections and tip-in goals and it can be largely credited to his positioning.
Here is a rebound goal against Everett.
In the below clip against Victoria, he skates behind Kevin Korchinski and provides him a passing lane in the slot.
The bulk of his 5v5 goals at the WHL level this season have come as a result of positioning in the low slot, but if Myatovic is carrying the puck behind the red line he’ll look to try his luck on wrap around far side goals.
In the clip below, he scores off of a wrap around backhand shot against Red Deer.
Here is another wrap around goal. This time around against Kamloops.
Myatovic’s shot selection is an area in which I would like to see a bit more fine tuning. Sometimes, he will end up shooting from long range at the point when he has enough space to skate to the perimeter. If he can get the puck to the perimeter, he has a far better chance of getting puck past the net-minder. If Myatovic has the puck closer to net front, but still in low danger, he will look for the precise moments in which a teammate of his is screening net front.
When driving the rush, if he draws tight pressure immediately, he will look to complete drop passes to teammates who are skating right behind him. In situations in which pressure is there but light, Myatovic will struggle at winning separation north – south and thus he will look to pivot out on a dime to draw that separation.
If he is behind the red line with the puck and pressure has picked up to the point where the attack is on his back, he has shown that he can use his upper body strength to get out of danger. But, he’s not consistent at navigating out of that type of pressure. Regardless of whether or not he can ultimately fend off the pressure, Myatovic does an excellent job of keeping the puck secure in those vulnerable situations.
When mid-cycle and he has the puck in low danger along the half-wall boards, if a teammate is skating into space down low, he will look to hit them in stride with a pass. But, should he have possession of the puck at the point, he will usually try to pass the puck to a fellow teammate in low danger. He doesn’t look to complete a dangerous pass from that far out. If he doesn’t spot anyone with open space in low danger, he will end up putting a low danger shot on net. I would like to see Myatovic test his long range passing ability to try to hit teammates in stride when he is at the point and he sees a teammate skate towards open space in the slot. I understand the drive to get the puck to a teammate in low danger because the chances of turning over the puck are far less, but I’m ok with the occasional turnover if it means that he tried to get a puck through a tight lane to a teammate skating into space down low.
Myatovic’s forechecking is quite good.
Myatovic is good at taking away space on the forecheck and using an active stick to trap the attacker skating up the boards with the puck. He does a good job of using his lengthy crossovers to build up speed and close in on attackers who are trying to drive a breakout. Myatovic’s reach allows him to have much quite a bit of a range when extending his stick out to take away space for the attacker on the breakout. Not only will he extend his stick out to take away space when in range, but he will poke check to cause puck disruption. If he is skating behind the rush, but is making a last ditch effort to put pressure on the attacker, he will swing out his stick to cause puck disruption. With all of that said, Myatovic has an excellent active stick and uses it quite nicely on the forecheck.
He works hard along the boards in low danger / behind the red line to put quality pressure on the puck carrier. Myatovic will finish checks, but doesn’t complete the check in time to cause puck disruption. But, he does force the attacker to complete a quick pass with danger closing in on him.
If he sees a teammate tied up in a puck battle that he is clearly struggling with, Myatovic will help out the teammate by positioning himself on the other side of the attacker and poke-checking the puck free.
In his own zone, Myatovic gets into position to apply pressure up at the point. But, he does drop back to support his goaltender and defenders with an extra man at net front. Myatovic comes to net-front to take away space for attackers in high danger. When one of his defenseman is out of position because they had pinched up in the offensive zone, he defends center ice well in their absence and takes away space so an attacker who grabbed control of the puck off of a pass couldn’t skate to net-front. Myatovic took away space from behind.
While Myatovic uses an active stick to take away space in the offensive zone, he doesn’t use his stick all that much to take away space defensively. He will extend his stick out, but he isn’t taking up space with it. Instead of using an active stick defensively, he looks to leverage his frame more and more when defending.
Speaking of using his stick, should loose pucks break free, Myatovic uses his reach to grab a hold of pucks quickly. His reach also allows him to extend his stick out further and grab onto pucks when they are slightly further out.
Should his teammates be engaged in tight puck battles, Myatovic does a good job of providing an outlet lane for said teammate. When he gets his hands on the puck and draws pressure, he can pivot out of pressure and finds another lane to use instead of forcing the puck into pressure. If he is up along the boards with the puck and pressure is taking away space for him to use to skate away from the boards, he will look to distribute the puck off of the boards to a teammate further up in the neutral zone.
Usually he is facing the oppositional rush in the neutral zone. Myatovic will regularly drop back and cover for his defenseman when they are out of position. As mentioned earlier on, Myatovic is very good at taking away and does so once again in neutral zone. He takes away space regularly and forces attackers to dump the puck into the offensive zone when they are looking to storm in.
When leading the rush from zone to zone to zone, if he runs into a heavy wall upon entering the offensive zone he will dump the puck and go chasing for it to try to regain control and hope for enough separation down low. Should pressure intensify at his side and those he doesn’t have much breathing room, he will look to pass underneath the attacker’s stick shaft to keep the puck moving up the ice by getting the puck closer up to the offensive zone blue line. If he has bit of ice to work with while driving up the ice, he will extend the puck to the opposite side (away from pressure) or position the puck further out in front of him to secure the puck when pressure has drawn to him but he intends to push the puck up the ice.
Myatovic has excellent pivots and crossovers that make him dynamic in transition when he has possession of the puck. He can shift around pressure and drive away. Myatovic will react to puck movement changes quickly, pivot and go into full stride on a dime to keep alignment.
His lateral crossovers have helped him to quickly activate and take away space in each zone. Check out this clip of Myatovic using his lateral movements to shift over when reacting to oppositional puck movement. Takes away space and neutralizes the rush attempt.
While Myatovic does possess lengthy stride extensions, he does hunch over a bit when in full stride. That hurts him in 50-50 loose puck battles in which the attack is neck-and-neck. His speed allows him to keep in pace, but he doesn’t have the speed to get the inside track to loose pucks in those tight battles.
I project Myatovic to be a middle six winger at the next level. He has the tools to be a power forward on a scoring line at the NHL level. I believe he will more than likely come off the board in the second round. Myatovic’s tools are very projectable to the NHL and he will feel like a safe bet for NHL scouts.
Ultimately, I’d like to see Myatovic further develop his physicality in all three zones and look to leverage his long range passing more and more to get pucks to the slot when he is in low danger. In the defensive zone, I’d like to see Myatovic use more of an active stick, but if his physicality improves I believe that it will only translate into Myatovic using an active stick more and more to isolate attackers. But, right now, I’m very content with tools that I see in Myatovic and I would bet on him at the NHL Draft in round two.
April 11, 2023
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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