Our 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile series continues today with a look at Nicholas Moldenhauer. This forward, capable of playing center or right wing, is one of the top prospects in the United States Hockey League (USHL). Moldenhauer spent last season with the Chicago Steel and after a delayed start to the year, established himself as perhaps the top non-US National Team Development Program prospect in the league. Now, let’s get to know more about this player.
Who is Nicholas Moldenhauer?
According to his Elite Prospects profile, Nicholas Moldenhauer is a 5’11”, 170 lbs. right-handed center and right wing from Mississauga, Ontario. He was born on May 25, 2004, so this past season was his age 17 year. He played his youth hockey with Port Credit Storm before moving on to the Toronto Titans, North Jersey Avalanche, and Chicago Steel. Thanks to Elite Prospects we can see what he’s accomplished in his career so far:
In 2019-20, his age 15 season, he was a member of the Toronto Titans U16 AAA team that competed in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL U16) U16 AAA and U16 AAA leagues. He put up 23 goals and 16 assists for 39 points in 33 games in GTHL U16 play. He led the team in goals and was 3rd in points. He was 3rd in the GTHL U16 in goals and tied-5th in scoring. In U16 AAA play, he had 45 goals and 77 assists for 122 points which led the team. In U16 AAA action, he was 2nd in goals and 1st in points.
He then split his age 16 season in 2020-21 between the North Jersey Avalanche 16U AAA team in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League 16U (AYHL 16U) and the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League (USHL), the top division of junior hockey in the US. With the North Jersey Avalanche, he posted 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 13 games. He led the team in goals, assists, and points. He also led the AYHL 16U in points per game (minimum 10 games played) with a 2.54 rate. That team would earn the AYHL 16U Championship.
He then moved on to the Chicago Steel, who had drafted him 120th overall in the 2020 USHL Futures Draft. He had 2 assists in 6 regular season games and played in 3 playoff games. Chicago would go on to win the Clark Cup Championship that season.
His draft season of 2021-22 would be his chance to make his mark with the Chicago Steel. After missing about three months at the beginning of the season due to illness, he posted 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points in 41 regular season games. He finished 6th in goals, 9th in assists, and 8th in points on the team. That production was enough to earn him USHL All-Rookie Second Team honors. Among U18 players in the USHL, he ranked tied-5th in goals and 8th in points. His 1.05 points per game rate ranked 2nd among U18 players that played in at least 40 games. He also represented Canada at the U18 World Championship where he had a goal and 2 assists in 4 games.
It isn’t clear where Moldenhauer will play for the 2022-23 season just yet. He wants to play college hockey but is currently uncommitted to a program. He could also stay with the Chicago Steel for another season to continue his development. If he changes his mind, another option would be joining the Sarnia Sting who acquired his rights from the Ottawa 67’s in the Ontario Hockey League after a trade last September. Ottawa had drafted him 20th overall in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection Draft. I’m sure this will be a decision that the team that drafts him will have some input into.
Where is Nicholas Moldenhauer Ranked?
As you can see from the below rankings, different outlets and scouts have differing opinions on where they would rank Moldenhauer. On the Central Scouting list, it’s worth mentioning that he finished 39th among North American skaters which is a nice rise from his 48th ranking in the midterm ranking. Will Scouch of Scouching’s list notes that he didn’t have Moldenhauer ranked in December but now has him as a “potential guy” that could be worth taking, ranking him 77th in April. The disparity in the ranking among The Athletic writers, Corey Pronman and Scott Wheeler, also seems to show how divided scouts are on Moldenhauer.
- #39 North American Skaters - NHL Central Scouting (Final Ranking)
- #58 - TSN - Craig Button (May Ranking)
- #78 - Dobber Prospects (Final Ranking)
- #112 - Smaht Scouting (Final Ranking)
- #77 - Scouching (April Ranking)
- #118 - The Athletic - Corey Pronman (May Ranking - $)
- #40 - The Athletic - Scott Wheeler (June Ranking - $)
What Others Say About Nicholas Moldenhauer
When researching Moldenhauer for this profile, I was a bit surprised at how little has been written about his game. He plays for a premier organization in the USHL with Chicago and represented Canada at the U18 World Championships so I would’ve expected more to have been said about him. Here is some of what I did find on Moldenhauer, starting with this from Hadi Kalakeche of Dobber Prospects:
A great competitor with above-average skating mechanics and a refined two-way game, Moldenhauer excels at suppressing opponents’ chances by using his stick and body jointly to break down offensive sequences. He pushes through contact well, allowing him to get to loose pucks that others wouldn’t, and has great awareness in transition to find the best play and try it. Although his puck skills aren’t refined — his shot isn’t mechanically sound and his passes lack forethought and inventiveness at times — the prospect has enough pro-ready tools to make a decent impact on a middle-six, especially if surrounded by playmakers who can help him put his intensity and ability to dig up loose pucks to use.
It’s encouraging to read that skating is an above-average aspect of his game. I like reading that he can play a two-way game and is active in transition sequences. It does seem that his offensive game still leaves a bit to be desired, though Moldenhauer did miss a fair bit of developmental time due to illness and injury.
Next, here is some of the analysis Corey Pronman wrote about Moldenhauer’s game in The Athletic ($):
Moldenhauer is an excellent skater who can make highly skilled plays with the puck with pace. He’s dangerous in transition and off entries, but I don’t see him as a cerebral player who can make a lot of plays.
Pronman also seems to view Moldenahuer’s skating as a real plus aspect of his game as well as his ability to thrive in transition. It seems like he wasn’t impressed by Moldenahuer’s offensive game and would like to see him improve his hockey sense.
Scott Wheeler of The Athletic ($) seemed to have a higher opinion of Moldenahuer compared to Pronman. Here’s some of what stood out to me from Wheeler’s analysis:
He’s a high-energy worker who combines an engine that is always revved with an offensive toolbox that lacks dynamism but also get B grades across the board. He’s a Swiss Army knife who sees the ice at a high level, reads and anticipates play quickly, and makes his linemates better with his ability to go get pucks, be in the right place at the right time, and facilitate with his solid vision and playmaking instincts.
I’m always interested when a player is described as a “Swiss Army knife” since those are the type of players that can boost the quality of a team’s depth. It’s encouraging to read that Moldenhauer works hard and has serviceable offensive tools. Wheeler does seem to rate Moldenhauer’s hockey sense higher than Pronman which is interesting.
The Hockey Prospecting model gives Moldenhauer a 15% Star probability and 50% NHLer probability. That makes it seem like he could be worth taking a flier on in the middle of the draft if he is still available.
The Top Down Hockey model, visualized by JFresh Hockey, is less optimistic about Moldenhauer. This model gives him a 3% Star probability and 18% NHLer probability. This model does rank his NHLer probability 45th in this class though.
A Little Video
The first video is a prospect profile from The Rink Live and features Moldenhauer talking about his experience this past season, his development with the Chicago Steel, and some game footage mixed in:
Here are a couple of nice goals he scored last season:
An Opinion of Sorts
Moldenhauer is a prospect that I am interested in since he skates well, can play in transition, competes hard, and can play either center or right wing. Going back to Wheeler’s report about how Moldenhauer is a “Swiss Army player” and it seems like that would be the type of player that any NHL team would like to add for his versatility. I also find his ability to play through contact encouraging since a lot of prospects struggle to make plays when engaged physically. He seems to have decent upside for a player expected to go in the middle of the draft and could be primed for a breakout campaign next season since he’s fully healthy now.
The Devils 2nd round pick would be too early to target Moldenhauer but I wouldn’t mind taking a shot on him with the 3rd round pick or one of their three 4th round picks, should Moldenhauer drop that far. He offers decent upside for a mid-round prospect. It will be interesting to see where he ends up going in the draft since I can see some teams having him much higher on their draft boards than others.
What are your thoughts on Nicholas Moldenhauer? Do you see him as a potential 2nd round prospect or would you rank him more of a mid-round player? Do you think the Devils should have an interest in him? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!