Brock Otten on Greg Nemisz

Calgary Hitmen goaltender Jones makes a save on Windsor Spitfires Nemisz at the Memorial Cup in Brandon

When the Flames signed Bryan Cameron, I was lucky enough to convince Brock Otten of the excellent OHL prospects blog to share some of his observations on the overaged sniper. I went back to the well this week to get some qualitative information on Greg Nemisz, whom I recently profiled here. My questions and Otten’s responses after the jump.

1.) How much have you seen of Nemisz during his time in Windsor?

Being such a high profile team, I think it’s the goal of anyone who covers the OHL to see the Spits as many times as possible during the season. I’m no different. They have so many interesting players and are generally a treat to watch. I would say I’ve seen Nemisz play more then enough times to know what type of player he is.

2.) The Spitfires have been the best team in the CHL for two straight years. To what degree do you think the strength of his team effected Nemisz results? To put it another way, How do you think Nemisz offensive totals would look on a completely average OHL squad?

I think that’s a really interesting question. Nemisz is definitely a quality offensive player, so I don’t think his stats are being inflated by playing on such a quality team (if that’s what you’re inferring). He has moments where he can take over a hockey game with his size and skill combination. Realistically, if he were on an average OHL squad, I think he’d still easily be over a point per game player and a 30 goal scorer.

3.) What was Nemisz primary role this year? I noticed from the gamesheets he seemed to play on a "second line" a lot with Eric Wellwood. He was also moved over to center now and then. He sounds like a bit of an "everyman" forward for the Spitfires, so to speak, suggesting versatility. Accurate?

Everyman would be a good way to describe Nemisz’s role this year. While it speaks volumes about his versatility (as you mentioned), I think it also helps to explain his somewhat "down" year. A lot of Windsor fans will tell you that Nemisz wasn’t as good this year as he was last year, especially in the playoffs. I think part of that stems from the fact that he had so many different roles with the team this year and was moved around so much. He played with just about every player on the team, spending time with Taylor Hall, but also a lot of time with guys like Kenny Ryan and Justin Shugg. He also moved back and forth from the wing to center, although five on five he played a lot more center towards the end of the year. With some new faces in the line up (guys like Kassian, Ryan, Johnston), and other players stepping up (Shugg, Wellwood), it seemed like Nemisz got lost in the shuffle a bit and never really found consistent chemistry with anyone.

4.) I’ve had limited viewings of Nemisz, but I’ve always come away less than impressed with his skating. Is that his primary weakness? Are there any others that may inhibit his taking the next step?

Skating is his primary weakness, but I think he also made progress in that area this year. His acceleration and first step looked particularly improved over last season and it helped him become more of a factor in using his size to take the puck hard to the net. I think the other weakness is more of a perceived one. He’s got size, but he’s not a power forward, nor do I think he’ll ever be one. In some ways, that will always be a let down to fans who want to see a guy as big as Nemisz throwing his weight around. But he’s more of a finesse player who just happens to be big. He’ll use his size to help him offensively; by that I mean he shields the puck well, uses his size to get by defenseman and has no problem standing in front of the net as a screen. But he’s not going to go out there banging, dropping the mitts and running over people for loose pucks. In a way, I guess you could say that lack of aggressiveness could hinder him at the next level.

5.) On the bright side, Nemisz is obviously big and I’ve always liked his shot. What are his primary strengths in your view?

I think he’s just a solid all around offensive player. He’s smart and uses his linemates well. I actually think his playmaking ability is very underrated. He’s a top quality passer. When he is determined enough, he’ll use his size to take the puck to the front of the net, and when he does he’s pretty hard to handle near the blue ice. That also makes him a good screen on the powerplay where he does a lot of his damage offensively. His shot is NHL caliber too, but I don’t think he uses it enough. Maybe due to a lack of agility, but when he’s out from the blue paint, he’s not as much of a threat. The further he gets from the net, the easier he is to cover and that means he’s not getting himself in a lot of ideal situations to use his shot.

6.) His showing at the WJC was rather lackluster this December. Was that an artifact of his role as a support-type player or was it an indication of perhaps being not quite as good as the upper tier kids he was playing with (and against)?

The WJC’s are so tough for a player. In a lot of ways, performance in that tournament is so greatly overrated. How many players who’ve excelled in that tournament have gone on to little success in the NHL? Conversely, how many players who’ve done jack squat in that tournament have gone on to have productive NHL careers? I think Nemisz’s support role definitely prevented him from leaving a huge impression on those who watched the tourney. Playing with Taylor Hall and Nazem Kadri (as he did for a portion of the tournament), how many people were actually focusing on those two? Not to mention the two of them play such an up tempo, straight ahead game, perhaps it wasn’t the perfect match for Nemisz.

7.) If you had to speculate on Nemisz’ NHL ceiling right now (top line forward, supporting offensive forward, third line checker, etc.) what would put your money on?

I don’t think Nemisz will ever be the third line checker type. He’s not a terrible defensive player, but there are other guys who will likely be more suited to playing that role (and who are better at it). I think he’s definitely the type of guy you could label as a top 6 forward or nothing guy. I’d say the odds are pretty good he ends up as an NHL player if he can continue to improve his quickness and agility. He could very well develop into a complimentary offensive player on the wing of either the first or second line and be a 50-60 point guy. I don’t think the future lies down the middle for Nemisz though (at center), as his puck possession skills aren’t strong enough IMO.

Thanks again to Brock for taking the time to answer my inquiries. Expect more observations from Mr. Otten when I profile TJ Brodie in June.

  • maimster

    Too bad he’s going to be subject to the Darryl Sutter Player Development Program(tm). $50 says Daz pulls a Boyd:
    1) He gets bounced up to the big team 4 or 5 times for a few minutes each even though he needs more exposure.
    2) Makes some mistakes, just because he’s a rookie, and gets bounced around a bit more.
    3) Bitches until he gets a discounted one-way deal. Shows promise here and there.
    4) Traded for a bag of pucks and a lotto ticket.
    5) Goes on to a good value, middle-of-the-road NHL career.

    • One wonders how long Sutter will stick to the this general formula. With the team looking less and less like a “win now” club and with the concurrent lessening of some of the incumbents influence on winning, it’s possible the org will start to give kids a bit more of a chance at the NHL to make an impact.

      But that’s all conjecture.

  • Graham

    Excellent follow up to your earlier prospect profile. I am with Brock, if Greg can improve his overall speed and agility, I think we will have a decent top six forward. At this point a home grown 50 – 60 point ‘Big’ winger sounds pretty attractive.
    Interesting comments about Greg not playing like a power forward. He might get away with being big but not aggressive if he is an effective screen, but boy, the big guys that don’t play big tend to drive the fans and coaches crazy! (Primeau, Bertuzzi…)
    Does anyone have any thoughts on his current weight, is he likely to play professional around his current 200 Lbs, or he is still filing out? Advantages to extra muscle, but extra weight would also negatively affect his #1 weakness; skating and agility.
    It will be interesting to see how Greg handles the speed and size in the AHL.

  • Graham

    i don’t know why you didn’t ask otten his opinion on nemisz’ tendency to hand signal his on-ice replacement to jump the boards when nemisz is enroute to the bench at shifts’ end (as in: “c’mon!”)…

    this seems as important a query as “what does henhenhen mean” and was a total missed opportunity by your good self.

  • Awesome stuff, Kent. I had envisioned Nemisz as being more of a 3rd line checker with some offense. If Brock’s views are accurate and he turns into a top 6 forward (in time), I think there’s gonna be some pretty happy people in here.