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Danny Nelson: 2023 NHL Draft Prospect Profile; A Defenseman Turned Forward With a Scoring Touch

Danny Nelson is a defenseman turned forward with a strong east west game and forechecking ability and a knack for scoring goals. Could he be the player selected by the Devils in the 2nd round?

U18 Ice Hockey World Championship 2023 - Semi Final
Danny Nelson will be likely be celebrating on draft day.
Photo by Jari Pestelacci/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Who is Danny Nelson?

Danny Nelson was born on August 3, 2005 in Maple grove, Minnesota. A 6’3 forward/defenseman in the USNTDP, Nelson has committed to play at the University of Notre Dame next season where he will join his brother Henry Nelson, an undrafted 20-year-old defenseman.

Last year, before joining the USNTDP, Nelson played for Maple Grove High School, where he put up 40 points in 31 games on defense. This season, Nelson scored 47 points in 62 games playing for the U.S. National team playing both forward and defense before tallying four goals and seven points in the IIHF U-18s in seven games.

Nelson’s ability to transition seamlessly between forward and defense has drawn parallels to Dustin Byfuglien. However, stylistically, Nelson prefers a different role model. Per an interview with Ryan Dittrick of NHL.Com, Nelson models his offensive game after Leon Draisatl, especially around the paint.

Where is Danny Nelson Ranked?

For what it’s worth, Tankathon has the Devils selecting Nelson at 58th overall, but most have Nelson off the board by the time the Devils pick with Peter Baracchini as the largest outlier ranking Nelson 81st.

What Others Say About Danny Nelson

Sean Raggio in his scouting report for the praises Nelson’s edgework, east/west game, soft hands and heavy shot, while noting that converted forward “protects the puck well” utilizing his large frame. Raggio also notes that Nelson’s compete level and pace have been “lacking at times” and the large winger still needs work on his speed and acceleration, which is common for a player of his size.

Bill Placzek of Lines.Com paints a very different picture of Danny Nelson calling him a “huge horse who eagerly does a lot of dirty work down low” and touts Nelson’s “excellent skating” and balance for a player of his size.

So, who is the real Danny Nelson?

A Little Video

For that, let’s take a look at some video.

In the above clip, Nelson receives a pass along the wall and drives towards the net to release his shot for a goal for Team USA. Nelson’s skating stride seems smooth and paced and his shot is heavy, as advertised.

The above goal is a tip in but it shows Nelson driving to the dirty areas.

In this clip, Nelson plays give and go with the defense and then rips the puck home. It’s a shot that may be good enough to beat goalies at that level, but would be considered a poor goal for a NHL goalie to surrender without a significant screen and/or deflection.

An Opinion of Sorts

Danny Nelson is a bit of a throwback, but in the clips I’ve seen he appears to have a strong enough skating ability to keep pace despite the report from the Hockey Writers. Nelson’s overall production is a bit tricky to evaluate as he played games at forward and defense, but I would have liked to seem him closer to a point per game. Overall, I think Nelson would be a fine pick should he still be available where the Devils select.

Your Take

Tell us what you think. Do you like Danny Nelson as a prospect? Is there someone else you’d prefer the Devils take in the 2nd round? Want to give a stick tap to Chase Stillman? Post your comments below.