Smooth skating Nate Danielson could be an underrated addition to Calgary Flames prospect pool

Photo credit:Jeremy Champagne/Brandon Wheat Kings
Jeff Middleton
9 months ago
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Nate Danielson is one of the more interesting (and one of my personal favourite) prospects in the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft. Another WHL product that will likely be making his way to the stage in the mid to late first round, the young centreman has lots to offer the team who drafts him, and the Calgary Flames should have him on their radar.

Scouting report

The first thing that stands out about Danielson in his 6-foot-1, 187-pound frame is how well he’s able to move around the ice. With his smooth stride, above-average speed and acceleration, and his willingness and creativity to make moves to the net, there is plenty to like about the way he moves his feet to create space in the offensive zone and through the transition game both at even strength and on the power play.
Although there are lots of qualities to enjoy when watching Danielson play, there are also some flaws, some of which include occasionally making too many moves or trying to be a little too creative in spots where he shouldn’t be. However, I’d make the counterpoint that a surplus of creativity is not a bad thing. At this point, it’s all about harnessing it and figuring out when is the correct time to apply it. No organization should deter him from using his strong instincts to create space with the puck because he already plays a pretty safe game on both ends of the ice.
To touch on Danielson’s play on the other side of the puck, he uses his strong skating abilities to help him defensively, too. Most game tape you can find will have multiple clips of him appearing out of thin air and intercepting the puck on a cross-ice pass or a lazy pass made up the middle. He’s a strong two-way player with great instincts that help him force his way into having possession of the puck. He’s also not an overly aggressive defensive player, which can have its drawbacks, but he’s smart about how he combines his speed and smarts when his team doesn’t have the puck.
The EliteProspects NHL Draft Guide had this to say about Danielson:
“Danielson was a creator of rush offence, building speed beneath the puck, charging through the neutral zone with possession, carving the ice up with powerful, agile crossovers, and turning the corner on opposing defenceman. Equal parts natural speed as a skater and handling skill made that a relatively effective signature move for the Wheat Kings centre.”

The numbers

Danielson has played in the Brandon Wheat Kings organization since 2020-21 after playing 5 games with the Red Deer Chiefs U18 Triple-A team. He scored 15 points in 24 games, which would be the only time he was below a point per game with the team. In 2021-22 he played 53 games and reached the 20-goal plateau. In total, he scored 57 points along with 3 points in 6 playoff games. And this season, after he was named captain of the Wheat Kings, he led the team in goals (33), assists (45), and points (78).

Availability and fit

Unlike some of the other prospects I’ve written about here at FlamesNation, Danielson isn’t going to make anyone jump out of their seat with his shot. Instead, fans are going to be excited by his smooth skating ability combined with good intelligence with and without the puck. As far as where he ranks and the likelihood that he’s available when the Flames are picking, it will be interesting to hear which way teams are leaning. Some scouts have him ranked close to 10th overall, while others have him in the early to mid-20s.
Danielson isn’t one of the names I’ve seen consistently thrown around for the Flames to select, but he would be a fun addition to the Flames’ prospect pool, and he would be one that fits the kind of mold that the new regime is attempting to build.

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