It’s time for another NHL Draft profile! Let’s check out defenceman Nico Gross, who could potentially fall down to the fourth round for the Calgary Flames.
The 2018 NHL Draft is just a few days away! While the Calgary Flames don’t have a draft pick until the fourth-round, there’s no reason why we can’t still be excited.
It seems unlikely that the Flames will be trading for a first-round pick based on GM Brad Treliving’s comments the other day. Even though he told the other GMs back in March that his aim was obtaining a first-round pick. So I guess we won’t find anything out until draft day.
All this being said, it’s time to check out another draft profile. Let’s check out Nico Gross!
Who is Nico Gross?
Name: Nico Gross
Birthplace: Pontresina, Switzerland
Height: 6’1” / 186 cm
Weight: 83 kg / 183 lbs
Team: Oshawa Generals
Stats from 2017-2018
Stats with Oshawa Generals, regular season (from eliteprospects.com):
Stats with Oshawa Generals, playoffs:
Stats with Switzerland U18, WJC-18:
Stats with Switzerland U20, WJC-20:
- Round 1, 40 overall: Oshawa Generals, CHL Import Draft
Rankings for 2018 NHL Entry Draft
- #46 by TSN’s Bob McKenzie (January)
- #56 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
- #65 by Hockey Prospect
- #80 by Future Considerations
- #173 Hockey Draft Central
Gross is an excellent skater with very good lateral movement and a superb backwards skater. His good acceleration allows him to evade the forecheck and skate out of danger. Along with his skating abilities, his hockey smarts allow him to jump into the play and join the offence. He is however, a little weak on his skates and that can change when he adds some strength.
Gross is very good with the puck on his stick. He handles it well and protects the puck very well. With his vision, he finds open lanes and can make crisp, clean passes to his teammates. He has shown an ability to quarterback the powerplay. He’s grown as a player who was prone to making bad pinches to one who picks his spots better.
Defensively, Gross is difficult to beat one-on-one. His skating allows him to keep forwards to the outside. He keeps his gaps tight and uses his stick effectively. He holds the blue line like a seasoned veteran. It’s hard to judge his penalty killing abilities on a Generals’ team where the PK wasn’t that great. But he seems to understand his responsibilities when a man down (Dominic Tiano, OHL Writers).
Nico Gross has played in multiple international tournaments at different levels. He captained the U16 team in 2015, played for the U18 team three times where he was most recently captain this past tournament, and has played in two World Juniors, most recently this year where he sported an ‘A’ on his jersey.
Gross served as a loan to the Oshawa Generals this year where he had a slow start, but many factors can play into that. He was coming off being sick for several months with Mono and adjusting to North American play is quite the challenge.
Gross played in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game where he had one assist for Team Cherry in their 7-4 victory over Team Orr.
Via Durham Region:
“It was a great feeling to play in this game, great experience,” said Gross, who was glad to share the experience with his Generals teammates. “Before the game it was something pretty special — we were talking a little bit to each other — but once the game started, they were like normal players for me.”
“It was the mono for sure, and everything was new for me — new team, new ice, the smaller rink, other game style, way faster, harder hockey,” he said. “I had a little bit of a tough start, but also the team. We all had a tough start, but it seems to be getting better every day.”
Where does he fit in with the Flames?
Like I mentioned in Riley Sutter’s draft profile, it’s quite difficult knowing where later-round players will end up. Especially with where they can fit in with a certain team. But as a defenceman who’s projected at going higher than the fourth round but may slide down to a later round, it seems like Nico Gross could have a future in the NHL.
The fact that he’s a good skater is one of the most important aspects of being a defenceman which is good news. Scouts have said that they’d like Gross to add on some muscle, but with him newly turning 18 and recently going through a bit of a growth spurt, that muscle will come as he continues to grow as a player.
With a few defencemen in the Calgary Flames organization right now, it’s hard to tell where defencemen will fit in. But the Flames have some in the org right now and all who have been within the org for quite a few years now – Brett Kulak, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington. With only Juuso Valimaki and Adam Fox as the younger highly-touted defensive prospects for the Flames, it’s time for some new blood.
With his skating abilities and being able to battle one-on-one, he reminds me of a 2014/2015 TJ Brodie (who also went in the fourth round, by the way).
The Flames are known to take a while developing their defencemen. The only two (regular-ish) defencemen on their roster from this past season that were drafted by the Flames were TJ Brodie and Brett Kulak. And they each didn’t become NHL regulars until their early twenties.
Gross can turn into a top-four defenceman in a few years. You’d think he would be good on the penalty-kill, but he weirdly isn’t. Another con of Gross is that he’s a left-shooting defenceman which is definitely not something that’s lacking in the Flames prospect pool.
All that being said, let’s check out some highlights!
He’s already developed and improved a lot in the last two years. He could end up falling down to the fourth round due to his slow start and adjusting to North American life/hockey. It’s hard to tell or know what the Calgary Flames are hoping to achieve from this draft. Maybe a defenceman isn’t what they’re looking for.
But if it is, Nico Gross seems like a good fourth-round option.