With the 2020 NHL Entry Draft coming up next month, it’s time to take a look at some potential players the San Jose Sharks could pick — one being right wing Zion Nybeck.
The San Jose Sharks have a first-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft thanks to a trade that saw forward Barclay Goodrow go to the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Sharks get Tampa’s first-round pick for this year.
The Sharks’ original pick is with the Ottawa Senators due to the trade that saw San Jose acquire defenseman Erik Karlsson.
So due to these two trades, the Sharks are currently picking at No. 26 instead of No. 3, or possibly higher/lower depending on how the lottery goes.
With 26th overall being where the Sharks could pick in this year’s draft, I’ll be taking a look at soon-to-be 18-year-old Swedish winger Zion Nybeck.
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This season, Nybeck started off playing for the HV71 J18 team of the J18 Elit league. In just four games, he scored 10 points (six goals, four assists). He was then called up to HV71’s J20 team of the SuperElit league.
In 42 games for HV71 J20, Nybeck scored 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists). Impressively, just 19 of these points came on the power play. Due to Nybeck’s impressive play, he would be called up to the HV71 parent club in the SHL.
In Nybeck’s 15 games for HV71, he didn’t play or produce much. He averaged just 4:41 of ice-time and scored just one goal.
Nybeck also participated in the juniors international tournament this year, playing for Sweden’s U18 team. In 13 games, Nybeck scored 12 points (two goals, 10 assists).
Now that you’ve seen the stats, let’s take a look at Nybeck’s strengths and weaknesses.
Although Nybeck is small at just 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds, he makes up for it with his speed and grit. Nybeck isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas and play along the boards. He gives his all in every situation.
He often wins his board battles and avoids dangerous situations with his quick thinking and quick feet. Nybeck’s skating is some of the best in this class. He has quick, short strides and can change direction on the spot, making for a great transition game.
With a lethal combination of smooth, quick hands and quick thinking, Nybeck knows what he wants to do once he gets the puck — get into the offensive zone and bury one, whether he does it himself with his quick, accurate wrister or strong backhand, or one of his teammates does it with the help of one of his great setups.
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Many would think Nybeck’s small stature would be one of his weaknesses, however, he uses it to his advantage by getting underneath his opposition.
Although Nybeck’s aggressiveness is one of his strengths, it is also one of his weaknesses. He can be overzealous while on defense, trying to jump a pass in an attempt to get a breakaway. This can bite Nybeck in the butt as if he guesses wrong and misses he’ll be out of position.
Additionally, although his size isn’t an issue at the level of play he’s at right now, it could be in the NHL. There are cases of smaller players being very successful in the NHL, but most of the time it doesn’t work out for them.
San Jose Sharks Prediction
Ranked No. 37 by Future Considerations, No. 29 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters), and No. 43 by eliteprospects.com, Nybeck is projected to go late in the first round to early in the second. He has the potential to be a top-six forward with experience playing both wings.
With the Sharks very thin at forward and lacking high-end forward prospects, they could definitely take him with their first-round pick.
It may be a slight reach but if they like Nybeck, they’ll take him so they don’t lose out on him — in 2018 the Sharks reached for defenseman Mario Ferraro and so far it’s worked out quite well.
Overall, if the Sharks do select Nybeck, I wouldn’t expect him to be playing in the NHL right away. He’ll need time to adjust to North American hockey rinks and refine his skills.
He’ll most likely spend a season or two in the AHL before seeing time in the NHL.