A lot of drafting in the mid-to-late rounds of the National Hockey League’s entry draft is about buying low. Some players are going to be undervalued for silly reasons – Johnny Gaudreau was overlooked despite amazing USHL scoring numbers because he was small – and smart teams can take advantage of these market inefficiencies.
Well, let me tell you about a winger that played pro in a good league at age 16 and will probably fall to the fourth round: Switzerland’s Nando Eggenberger.
A product of Chur, Switzerland – a tiny town that’s supposedly the oldest town in Switzerland – Eggenberger is an October birthday and one of the older first-time eligible players in the draft. He’s a left-shooting winger that’s able to play either side of the ice.
He’s moved along quite quickly in Swiss hockey, using his frame and skill to put up many points as he progressed:
- As a 14-year-old in 2013-14, he had 62 points in 30 games in the Swiss U15 league.
- As a 15-year-old in 2014-15, he had 31 points in 29 games in the U17 league and played for his country in the Under-18s Worlds, the Hlinkas and the Under-19 Worlds.
- As a 16-year-old in 2015-16, he had 15 points in 32 games in the U20 league and played for his country in the Under-18 Worlds, the Hlinkas and the World Juniors.
- As a 17-year-old in 2016-17, he had 15 points in 16 games in the U20 league, five points in 28 games in the pro National League A, and served as World Juniors captain.
There’s a fair amount of progression – and to some extent some diminishing returns – with Eggenberger. He played two games of pro with HC Davos at 16 and played full-time pro as a 17-year-old.
For the first time in years, Eggenberger spent the entire season with one team at one level of hockey. He spent the entire campaign with HC Davos in Switzerland’s top league. He played 36 games, but only had five points – three goals and two assists.
Last Word on Sports’ Ben Kerr had this assessment of Eggenberger’s game and season:
Eggenberger is an interesting case. The package of skills is there, but for whatever reason, it has not translated to production for Davos. While it is often tough for teenagers to score in men’s leagues, Eggenberger’s lack of production is still a bit concerning. It is hoped that he can put those tools together and become an effective scorer at the domestic level. The team that drafts Eggenberger may have a bit of a project on their hands, but if the development goes well, he could be a two-way top six forward at the NHL level.
Eggenberger’s size (6’2″ and 185 pounds) and skill set project him as a power forward. He’s been one at all prior levels of hockey against kids his own age or older, but he just hasn’t been able to bury the puck consistently playing secondary minutes in a strong men’s league.
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The NLA is an old man’s league, to the point where there aren’t many age comparables for Eggenberger. He was third in scoring among first-time draft eligible players and fifth in scoring among all under-20 players.
Despite his lean offensive output during league play, he had five points and was second on Davos in scoring during the Champions League competition throughout the year. Again, that’s suggesting that there’s something there offensively that he hasn’t been able to tap consistently as a pro.
Fit and availability
Eggenberger is a versatile young player with pro experience at a very young age. Because he’s Swiss, he’s also played a ton against high-level competition in international events. He’s got a fun name. And Swiss media is reporting that he’s willing to come to play in North America next season, so potentially he could be tearing up a Canadian major junior league where he’s not at a size or experience disadvantage and is playing against players his own age.
Will he fall to 105th? Potentially. His lack of offensive production and progression over the past couple of seasons might scare off some teams. Future Considerations has him 88th, ISS Hockey has him 183rd and Bob McKenzie has him 90th. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see him fall to the Flames.
2018 fourth round targets
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