At 84th overall, the New Jersey Devils selected Guelph goaltender Nicolas Daws. This overage prospect just completed his third season in the OHL but his first as a full time starter. Let’s learn a little bit more about the player
Who is Daws?
According to his Elite Prospects profile, Nicolas Daws is a 6’4”, 203 lbs. goaltender that was born in Munich, Germany but raised in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. The 19 year old was born on December 22, 2000 so he was an overager for this year’s draft. Daws has spent the past three seasons with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) where he spent the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons as the back up. This past season he broke out, playing in 38 games and going 23-8-3-3 with a 2.48 GAA and .924 SV%. He made Canada’s team for the most recent U20 World Junior Championship where he struggled with a 5.83 GAA and .840 SV% in 2 appearances. Prior to the OHL he played for the Burlington Eagles, Burlington Cougars, and Toronto Marloboros. Daws was an OHL Champion with Guelph in 2018-19 and won a U20 WJC Gold Medal last winter with Canada. This past season in the OHL, he lead the league in SV% and was named to the First All-Star Team and Goaltender of the Year.
What Others Say About Daws
Ben Kerr has this profile on Daws who he had ranked 54th for this year’s draft. Here are some excerpts from that report on his skating and talent, puckhandling, mental make up, and projection.
Regarding his skating and talent:
Daws has strong legs and gets a good push going both forward and backwards. This allows him to get back if an attacker tries to deke him. He also has the ability to get across the crease quickly if there is a cross-ice pass.
Daws is extremely athletic. He has a very good glove hand that takes away the top of the net. Daws rebound control is good for a young goaltender but like many young goalies, it is an area he can improve.
Regarding his puckhandling:
Daws also gets out of the crease and handles the puck well. He gets out of his net to retrieve dump-ins and makes a pass to his defencemen to start the transition game.
Regarding his mentality:
Daws was a rock for the Guelph team. The defenders would look to him to be cool and calm when facing heavy pressure and fighting through it. He didn’t let a bad goal get to him and would be ready to make the next save.
Regarding his projection:
Given that he was a backup in his first two years of junior and that his third year was cut short by COVID-19, he needs to play games. Expect him to carry a heavy workload. He will also need time in the AHL after that. Like many young goalies, expect him to be three or four years away from making an NHL impact.
Writing for NHL.com, Adam Kimelman has this feature on Daws who talks about his training and response to not being drafted last year. Some notable parts:
“His confidence and approach to the game has been very noticeable,” Central Scouting’s Al Jensen said. “His coaches have done a great job in his development. He has a lot of pro skills already that are very necessary to be successful at the pro level. He’s got a great chance to make his mark at the NHL level someday. He is technically very sound in all aspects of his game.”
“He’s kind of hard to score on, I can’t really find anything when I’m out there,” said Sudbury (OHL) center Quinton Byfield, No. 2 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters. “He plays pretty big, he’s quick laterally, and I think he has a lot of confidence right now. He’s spectacular, the backbone of that team.”
Ian C McLaren over at Second City Hockey had this interview with Daws from back in January. Here he once again talks about losing weight to get into proper shape and what style of game he plays. Here are some excerpts:
Q: Is there a NHL goalie that you try to model your technique after?
Daws: I always use Connor Hellebuyck. Big goalie, efficient around his crease. That’s kind of how I like to play my game. I like to play calm, just try to cut angles down, not do too much.
Q: Are there any areas of your game you’re focusing on improving over the rest of the season?
Daws: Definitely, I want to just keep being consistent, and my speed around the net. When you get to higher levels, you’ve got to be able to adapt, so if I can increase my speed here, it will pay off in the long run.
Update 1: Here is what OHL Prospect guru Brock Otten had to say about the pick:
In Nico Daws, the Devils are getting a big, focused, and pro ready goaltender. Committed to improving his conditioning and quickness last off-season and the difference it made was astounding. Was the best goalie in the OHL this year. Don't let the age scare you. #nhldraft2020— OHL Prospects (@BrockOtten) October 7, 2020
Update 2: Here is what GT Analytics had to say about the pick:
Using our OHL xG model Nico Daws was second in the league in Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAX) and tied for first in delta sv%. We like this pick by the devils at 84. pic.twitter.com/871iG09LFq— GTAnalytics (@GTAnalytics_) October 7, 2020
Update 3 from the NHL’s Mike Morreale:
When speaking w/ scouts about goalie Nico Daws, one constant was him as 'an exceptional puck-handling goalie'. Maybe Marty had a hand in this one. Daws was top-2 in 3 areas in the OHL coaches poll - (most improved player, best puck-handling goalie, best shootout goalie)— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) October 7, 2020
Update 4: Here is what Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst had to say about Daws:
Devils grab a goalie (and a good one) in overage Nico Daws at 84. Incredible consistency in a run-and-gun league. Doesn't get rattled or flop around when facing a barrage. pic.twitter.com/80GmsRPbH4— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) October 7, 2020
A Little Video
My Initial Reaction to the Pick
I’m sort of in the middle on the pick. I would’ve preferred taking a forward or defenseman at this spot since I thought there were some quality options on the board still. I don’t mind drafting overagers but the fact that Daws’ only season as a starter was cut short due to the pandemic means he doesn’t have as much of a track record. Clearly the Devils and Central Scouting value his skills and feel he has made enough improvements in his game to warrant a 3rd round pick. It seems that he has taken his training and preparation seriously and is now in the pro mindset. Hopefully these changes can continue to propel his career forward.
I am encouraged by what Daws did last year as the backbone of that Guelph team. According to Pick 224, he put up the 2nd highest Goals Saved Above Average in the OHL at 45 and had the highest GSAA per 60 minutes at 1.2. He was a dominant force in a highly offensive league. He was a top goaltender at even strength and when his team was on the penalty kill which is another big positive. I’m going to be cautiously optimistic that he has the skills to develop into a solid pro goaltender. The Devils can afford to be patient with him which is certainly a good thing for both parties.
As we update this post with more information later today, please have your say about this prospect in the comments. Are you satisfied with this selection? What are your expectations for this prospect? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!
The Devils drafted goaltender Nico Daws at 84th overall. What do you think of the pick?
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