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Photo Credit: Clifford Skarstedt / Postmedia Network

CANUCKSARMY’S 2018 NHL DRAFT PROFILES: #79 Linus Nyman

One of the top scoring re-entries this year is Finnish-born OHL sniper Linus Nyman. The diminutive winger has spent the last two seasons on a powerful Kingston team, benefiting from and contributing to the strength of that group. We have Nyman ranked near the end of our Top 100 last year, and after going unclaimed he has only improved his offensive numbers. Unfortunately, the size and stylistic issues that left him undrafted last year remain. Still, with the skating and scoring goals part down pat, we’ve got Nyman back in our Top 100 again, with the hope that he’ll eventually add the strength need to be a difference maker at the pro level. Linus Nyman checks in at no. 79.

Bio

  • Age/Birthdate: 18.18 / July 11, 1999
  • Birthplace: Helsinki, Finland
  • Frame: 5-foot-10 / 159 lbs
  • Position: LW/RW
  • Handedness: Left
  • Draft Year Team: Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
  • Accomplishments/Awards:
    • 2016-2017
      • OHL First All-Rookie Team
      • OHL Most Goals by Rookie (26)
      • U18 WJC Silver Medal
    • 2015-2016
      • Jr. A SM-liiga Rookie of the Month (October)
    • 2013-2014
      • Jr. C SM-sarja II All-Star Team

Before journeying to North America, Nyman had already been building a promising prospect resume in his home nation of Finland, including some promising international appearances. Nyman was taken by the Frontenacs 53rd overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft, joining the team the following year. He’s had two strong years in Kingston, to add to strong Hlinka Memorial and World Under-18 performances in his draft year. Facing the difficult situation of being an international overager, Nyman is returning to Finalnd after signing a two-year contract with Lukko of the Finnish SM-Liiga.

Stats

Career

2017-18 Season

GP G A P SEAL INV% 5v5 Pr INV% 5v5 eP160 Sh/Gp Sh% GF% GF%rel GD60rel XLS% XPR xVAL
67 39 46 85 1.62 35.6% 29.4% 2.23 2.91 20% 62.9% 16.2% 1.86 42% 42.5 4.0

Statistically speaking, Linus Nyman is a stud. He’s right up near the top for every metric we’ve concocted, and his average percentile (0.968) is actually the second best among all available forwards in this draft (it should be noted that pro players are unfairly disadvantaged here, as only SEAL and pGPS have built in mechanisms to account for league quality, but still, he leads all junior players who are on the same playing feel).

This will be a recurring theme, but as mentioned in the lede, Nyman has dynamite numbers. Only a handful of available forwards scored more points than his 86 – they were all older and all played more games. Among all available players, the only first time eligible player to tally more was defenceman Evan Bouchard (you’ll have to wait a few weeks to get our take on him obviously).

Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)

Nyman tore up the OHL at 5-on-5, posting 32 goals and 63 points at even strength, the most of any available player. His even strength production was heavily of the primary variety, while on the power play he proved to be more of a distributor, which is exactly the mix that SEAL likes. Even more positive, his eight primary power play assists (when including playoffs), set up seven different triggermen (see the Scoring Network below), demonstrating that his setup abilities weren’t reliant on any particular teammate. The only real hit Nyman takes his is in the age category, being the year above many of his available peers, but with a mid-July birthday, he’s still relatively young as far as overagers go.

Team Relative

Each of the teammate relative charts bear out a consistent message: Nyman was a leader, not a follower. Among his most frequent linemates (which included some of the OHL’s best players), to a man they were better with Nyman than without him, be that in point rate or goal share. Granted, there’s no doubt that Nyman benefited from the opportunity to play with Gabriel Vilardi and Jason Robertson, and his offence suffered when you took them away, but that’s only to be expected with players of that quality.

Cohort Based

As with all the other numbers I’ve gathered, Nyman looks great through the pGPS lens, with more than a 40% expected likelihood of NHL success. It’s a step up from last year, when he was already in the 20’s in that regard, and it’s one of the best bets available for overagers. His match pool contains the likes of Doug Gilmour, Nick Cousins, and Tobias Rieder.

Our Take

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ll know that Linus Nyman has had an excellent year by all statistical standards, from a pGPS XLS% worthy of a first rounder, to a shot rate of nearly three per game, to a 5-on-5 Primary INV% of just short of 30% (meaning he had a goal or primary assist on about 30% of his team’s 5-on-5 goals).

It goes deeper than numbers though. Nyman’s skating is well regarded, with shifty edge work and the coveted ability to change speeds quickly. He has an accurate shot, good hands, and is a demonstrably intelligent player. So then why doesn’t he appear in the top 100 of any other draft rankings?

Make no mistake, this is largely about size. Nyman measures in at either 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-10 (depending on who you ask), and somewhere around 160 pounds. Now, the new NHL has become a lot more hospitable for smaller players, there’s no doubt about that, but for Nyman it’s not just about the size, but how he uses it – and that’s not at all. While the successful undersized NHL players have grown adept at using their agility and intelligence to wade through the “dangerous” areas of the ice, Nyman avoids the areas entirely. He shies away from physical contact and requires help from his teammates to retrieve pucks and move them through certain spots. As you can imagine, this style doesn’t bode well for his ability to help in the defensive zone either. The positioning and anticipation is there, but the strength and battle level is not. Moreover, that lack of strength impedes the power of his shot, making it difficult for him to beat goalies from distance, even with above average accuracy.

Simply put, Nyman needs to add strength if he hopes to be effective in the future, and he’ll need to add several degrees of intensity. If he does that, there’s no further reason that he couldn’t become a productive middle six (or even top six) point producer at the NHL level. While the addition of muscle comes relatively easy, an increase in battle level and competitiveness could be harder to achieve. This is an area where chats with the player and his junior team staff would come in handy, to get a grip on his psychological readiness to improve in that sector. The feedback from those questions, for a player like Nyman, could mean the difference between getting picked in the third or fourth round, and not getting picked at all.

Nyman will head home next season to play in the SM-Liiga in Finland. That shouldn’t detract from him getting picked altogether: Canucks prospect Petrus Palmu recently did the same thing and ended up winning the Liiga’s rookie of the year award, and there are no indications that he won’t be willing to return to North America in the future. This move could bode very well for Nyman – Liiga is one of Europe’s best professional leagues, it’s played on an ice surface that’s closer in size to North American rinks than its Swedish or Russian counterparts, and tends to have a more physical style of play than what we’d assume of a European league. It could be a good litmus test as to the steps that Nyman is taking in working towards the NHL someday.

Further Reading

Consolidated Average Future Considerations Hockey Prospect.com ISS Hockey McKeen’s The Athletic TSN Bob McKenzie TSN Craig Button The Hockey News Sportsnet ESPN Dobber Prospects
UR 124.5 $$

From HockeyProspect.com’s 2017 NHL Black Book:

He can be a little tough to contain along the wall despite his size because he is very evasive. He uses his speed on the fore-check effectively. He basically doesn’t engage physically at all, but will use his stick to try and break up possession. He has the natural skill but several areas of improvement that will need to be addressed before he would be able to consider playing at the pro level in North America.

From Scott Crawford at McKeen’s Hockey:

Boasts some impressive puck movement skills. His hidden value allows him to move up the ice faster and he becomes more elusive when he is combining his foot speed with his fancy stick work. Once he reaches the offensive zone he is hard to contain. He is a smart player who knows how to play away from the puck and he is a reliable two way forward if the game is not too physical. His biggest issue facing the draft is overall body strength.

CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings

#80 LIAM FOUDY #81 LINUS KARLSSON #82 JACHYM KONDELIK
#83 SCOTT PERNOVICH #84 JAKUB SKAREK #85 TY EMBERSON
#86 JAY O’BRIEN #87 CARL WASSENIUS #88 VLADISLAV KOTKOV
#89 EMIL WESTERLUND #90 JERRY TURKULAINEN #91 STANISLAV DEMIN
#92 TYLER MADDEN #93 JAN JENIK #94 G OLIVIER RODRIGUE
#95 XAVIER BERNARD #96 KRISTIAN TANUS #97 LUKAS WERNBLOM
#98 NANDO EGGENBERGER #99 MATTHEW STRUTHERS #100 SHAWN BOURDIAS

  • Of all the attributes of a player – speed, skating ability, hockey sense, stickhandling, strength – strength is far and away the easiest to rectify. Hit the gym, pound the protein shakes, and mature a couple of years.

    Those numbers are pretty tantalizing – seems like the perfect guy to take a flyer on in the third or fourth round.

  • TD

    Great article Jeremy, I was reading the stats and couldn’t figure out why this guy wasn’t picked. When you started talking about his lack of a battle level and unwillingness to go to the dirty areas, I understood why. Great analysis combining the stats and an analysis of his game. You can get a player to go to the gym, but its not easy to get them to compete and go to the dirty areas. There have been lots of great looking prospects listed already that don’t have that huge red flag.

    • Dirty30

      Sounds like he’s on the alley Wellwood fitness plan — ‘donuts and do nothin’ — and even Kyle couldn’t muster compete to last a whole season. I give Wellwood credit for when he did compete he was almost a thug — sporting a shiner and fat lip — but if compete isn’t there, give him Linden Vey’s phone number and move on.

  • Rodeobill

    If this guy falls to the end, you gotta take him in the last round. Go hang with Palmu and work those squats. The bet here isn’t on his skill, it’s will he find the compete and battle he needs to. Look at Stetcher, you use what you got in your own way to get the job done, and you don’t give up and wait for someone else to do it.