Barring any trades to get back into the seventh and final round of the 2019 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils ended a very busy afternoon by using their seventh round draft pick. Out of Sweden, the New Jersey Devils selected forward Nikola Pasic at 189th overall.
Who is Nikola Pasic?
According to Elite Prospects, Nikola Pasic is a center and a left winger who primarily played for Linkoping HC’s Under-20 team in Sweden. Pasic was born on October 16, 2000, which makes him one of the younger overage prospects in this year’s draft class. He shoots left, he stands at 5’10”, and he weighs 189 pounds. He was also quite busy in the 2018-19 season.
Again, Pasic primarily played for Linkoping’s top youth team. In 33 games, he put up 36 points with 18 goals and 18 assists. Based on Elite Prospects’ list of scorers in that league, Pasic finished 32nd in points for the entire SuperElit league. Pasic’s performances were good enough to warrant 15 appearances with Linkoping HC in the Swedish Hockey League. This was not his first taste of the SHL as he made it in 3 games in 2017-18, but the SHL site lists his ice time per game at 2:24. As I understand it, it is tough for young players to get ice time in European pro leagues but that is pretty ridiculous. Still, Pasic managed to get a goal, an assist, and a short loan to BIK Karlskoga in the Allsvenskan, which is Sweden’s second tier league. The Linkoping management clearly believe in Pasic’s future. In April the team announced that they signed him to a two-year contract where Pasic will play the whole 2019-20 season with BIK Karlskoga. I think it is a good move. It appears that he has little left to prove at the U-20 and if he is not going to get regular minutes at the SHL level, then going down to the Allsvenskan is a good place for him to grow.
What Others Say About Nikola Pasic
I should note that the Elite Prospects profiles include rankings from services and notable people who follow prospects. I’ve tried to avoid using them to say whether a pick was good or not. However, I do want to point out that a number of people thought Pasic would be a top 100 player in this year’s draft. Knowing that is encouraging as usually most seventh round draft picks are well known enough or good enough to warrant such a ranking. That said, here are a few snippets I found here and there about Pasic.
First, from efowle15 at Fear the Fin, Pasic was highlighted as one of five players for the 91st overall pick. This is a part of what efowle wrote:
Former Canucks Army writers Josh Weissbock and Cam Lawrence discovered that 51 percent of skaters aged 18 and younger who put up at least 0.09 points in the SHL go on to play 200 NHL games. Pasic’s 0.13 points per game (two points in 15 games) just barely breaches that threshold. Pasic’s SHL experience is promising, but he spent most of the season in the Swedish SuperElit U20 league. At about the halfway mark of the season, Pasic’s betweenness at even strength was in the 84th percentile in the entire league. Taking a swing at a player who is basically a coin flip NHL player and did very well in junior hockey at the end of the third round seems like an astute way to use a draft pick.
While picking up two points while averaging less than 3 minutes per game is not a whole lot to build around, it is a sign that there could be bigger things to come. Knowing that Pasic produced a lot at the U-20 level helps me see this as a positive. I would not take it to mean he is a sure-fire future NHL player but he is not a guy just taken at the end of the draft just because one scout saw him good.
As Canucks Army was mentioned, Pasic made their countdown of the top 100 prospects at 74th with this short blurb about the player:
The goalscoring average-sized Swedish forward spread his time between the SHL and the Under-20 league this season, scoring a total of 19 goals. A shoot-first mentality carried him through his season.
It is not much but it is a good summation as any. The profile quoted Bill Placzek of DraftSite, who had this also brief take on the Pasic:
Smaller wing with a nice skill set ability to control the action in tight spaces and dangle with the best of them. Can get his shot releases in closed quarters. He has little interest in the corners, and doesn’t always come to play each night or shift. There is skill there…
Jumping to Die by the Blade, Max Marko listed Pasic as one of the 101 players to know for this year’s draft. This is what he wrote about Pasic:
Pasic spent time in SuperElit and the SHL this year, but it is easy to see why he was promoted. He is a tremendous two-way center, but can also play the wing. Knows the lanes to pick when coming back in the defensive zone. He is often the first one making an impact on the forecheck and will convert those turnovers into quality scoring chances. Not the flashiest player offensively when it comes to making plays with his hands, but there have been times where he has crossed over defenders. Plays consistently on both the powerplay and penalty kill.
Putting it all together: Pasic is someone who will shoot the puck, he can shoot the puck well, he can play both ways - he’s not an offense-only player, he played in all situations in what I presume was at the U-20 level, and there are questions about his consistency and flair. I think that seems right.
A Little Video
This is a highlight video from last year’s World U-18 Championship, where Pasic represented Sweden. He is wearing #22 and since the video is by bigwhite06, you know it is more than just what he produced at that tourney:
For something a little more recent, here is one of his 18 goals with the U-20 Linkoping team. He scored this against Vaxjo’s U-20 team on February 12, 2019:
A Quick Take
I really like this pick at the end of the draft. Pasic is a skilled winger that does more than just provide offense. Those who have seen him or heard of him note that he is a two-way player. That is a good thing. While he barely played with Linkoping HC’s top team, the organization was pleased enough with his progression that they signed him to a deal and are sending him to place where he can possibly play more significant minutes. That is also a good thing. The two year contract will allow for Pasic to develop and the Devils to decide later whether he is worth bringing over. Pasic is a shooter. I personally like that trait in offensive players. For where he was picked in the draft, I think the Devils made a very good selection to cap off a large draft class. I really like the pick and I possibly love it.
That is my take on Nikola Pasic. I’d like to know what you think about the player. Please leave your opinion about Pasic and vote in poll. Thank you for reading.
The Devils drafted Nikola Pasic at 189th Overall. What do you think of the pick?
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