Height/Weight: 6'2", 200 lbs.
Youth Team: LA Selects Hockey Club
Current Team: USNTDP Juniors
As one of the most-talented American prospects in the draft, one would think that forward Nicolas Kerdiles would have received more hype during the lead-up to the event. The United States National Team Development Program standout flew under the radar to some degree, however, and may turn out to be one of the best value picks in the entire draft when we look back several years from now.
Kerdiles proved his worth this past season as he accrued 13 points in 18 games with the USNTDP Juniors, but he was at his best when the stakes were highest. The United States won gold in the U-18 World Championships and Kerdiles may very well have been the team's best skater. He potted four goals and ended up with nine total points in six games, and he had a plus-eight rating on top of that.
Although Kerdiles may not necessarily be a dynamic offensive player, he does a lot of things very well. He uses his ample 6'2", 200-pound frame well to his advantage as he is good at shielding the puck and isn't afraid to go to the dirty areas. He also has a good, quick release on his shot and is a crafty playmaker, particularly when he is serving as a pivot in the middle.
Kerdiles has shown a good commitment on the defensive end that suggests he can be a strong two-way center in the NHL one day. He may not always be as physical as he is capable of, but when he decides to use his size, it normally means bad things for the opposition. Kerdiles is the type of sandpaper player with offensive ability that NHL teams so desperately desire come playoff time, so he'll get his shot at some point.
Kerdiles will hone his craft at the University of Wisconsin this season and figures to remain there for at least three years as his body and all-around game continue to develop. I don't expect Kerdiles to ever be a dynamite offensive player at the next level, but if he can score between 20 and 25 goals while remaining solid defensively as well, he will more than live up to his draft status.