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2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Nicolas Kerdiles

Nicolas Kerdiles, F

Birthplace: Irvine, California 1/11/94
Bio: 6’1, 195 lbs., L
U.S. NTDP U-18
Rankings: ISS – 15; CSS – 29 (NA)

The Skinny: Despite lacking a standout attacking skill, Nicolas Kerdiles is one of the more well-rounded forwards available in 2012.

Analysts around the draft world have been bemoaning the absence of depth among skilled forwards this season. For the most part, that assessment is accurate, but with several projectable two-way talents – perhaps chief among these, American Nicolas Kerdiles – the pool isn’t as shallow as it seems.

Kerdiles spent much of his youth shuffling between the hockey ‘Meccas’ of France, California and Texas but might be the best American forward talent in 2012. He’s spent the past two seasons as a standout in Ann Arbor with the U.S. NTDP, and was the team’s leading scorer as they took home gold at the IIHF U-18’s in the Czech Republic (4 goals, 9 points in six games).

Aggressive at both ends of the ice, Kerdiles tenaciously pursues the puck along the boards and behind the net. He’s excellent on both the forecheck and backcheck and will out-work opposing attackers and pick their pockets if they’re not careful. Patient and positionally sound, the California-born forward balances out the intensity with deliberate play when setting up defensively.

He possesses a strong build and gets his nose dirty willingly (though not as dramatically as teammate Stefan Matteau) and will deliver open-ice hits as the opportunities present themselves. Balanced on his skates, Kerdiles absorbs punishment and maintains puck possession under duress.

His skating game isn’t outstanding (he doesn’t have dynamic acceleration or agility) – but it gets the job done. His north-south game is much more developed but he’ll juke when you least expect it and it seems that one or two times each game he beats a defender outright with ‘play-action’ and some fancy footwork. His motor is usually running at such a high level that deficiencies in his wheels can be overlooked.

Kerdiles is a savvy distributor of the puck and fills lanes at both ends effectively. He frequently identifies the correct open man on the rush and makes sure passes.

Even so, his skillset is nothing to write home about. More of a playmaker than a finisher (though with his penchant for camping out in the net-front, that could change), Kerdiles’ scoring upside has been called into question by a few observers. In the end, he projects more towards a NHL second-line. He sporadically struggles when he’s the focal point of the attack so it stands to reason that the team drafting Kerdiles is comfortable with him turning into a secondary scorer.

Despite the accolades he receives for his defensive responsibility and rugged play, he occasionally takes shortcuts and questionable decisions (like flying the zone way too early and leaving teammates out to dry).

Going higher than pick twenty might be a stretch for Kerdiles given his offensive limitations. However, opinions on him are so all-over-the board that some team with scouts who really love his game might be out there in the late teens – and not think twice.

Ideal Fits: Teams looking for a solid two-way forward talent the late first or early second rounds: Boston, Vancouver, Montreal, Buffalo, and Los Angeles.

Why Your Team Will Take Him: Because they see top-six attacking upside; because they project him as an elite two-way forward.

Why Your Team Will Pass on Him: Because they’re looking for a dynamic skillset in a forward.

Strengths: Grit, Puck-Possession, Defensive Play, Physiciality, Distribution

Weaknesses/Concerns: Absence of a ‘Plus’ Offensive Tool, Quickness, Consistency, Hockey-Sense

Projection: Two-Way Second-Line Forward (20g, 55p potential)

Predicted 2012 NHL Draft Range: First/Second Round (18-36)

Overall Rank: 27

N.A. Rank: 20

USHL/U.S. NTDP Rank: 4

Forward Rank: 14

U.S. National Rank: 5

Bob is the Boston Bruins correspondent for The Hockey Writers and a credentialed member of the Providence Bruins' Media.

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