Since being drafted 9th overall in the 2014 NHL entry draft, the hockey world knew that Nikolaj Ehlers had immense skill. Nobody knew how long it'd take the young Dane to transition from junior hockey to the NHL. At 19 years old, Ehlers has made the jump and is playing with the big boys. Eight games in and the rookie hasn't skipped a beat. In fact, Ehlers has been among one of the Jets best forwards thus far.
Ehlers is currently seventh in rookie scoring with 3 goals and 6 points in 8 games. While playing alongside Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault, Ehlers has been given prime opportunities to rifle his superb shot. The former Halifax Moosehead has caught on to things quite quickly with the Jets. He knows where to go with the puck and away from the puck. He makes the smart play and can really kick his speed in to high gear and is hard to stop when he is flying up the wing.
His most special talent of all that has really shined through is his shot. "He's awesome." said line-mate Scheifele. "He's so fast, looks so effortless for him, he's definitely a special player, (it is) huge seeing a guy that young getting so many chances.... He's a guy that wants to get better every day"
Ehlers scores his 3rd goal of the season, Jets up 3-1 pic.twitter.com/StKa5ROmCT— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 25, 2015
Ehlers isn't just taking carless shots at the net; he has been producing plenty of quality scoring chances.
#NHL rookie forwards: Shots Ehlers WPG 28 Eichel BUF 24 Larkin DET 21 Panarin CHI 19 Domi ARI 18 Lindberg NYR 18 McDavid EDM 17— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) October 26, 2015
Before the season began, many people were focusing on the subtractions that the Jets had made this offseason rather than the young additions. In particular, Lee Stempniak spoke about having interest in returning with the Winnipeg Jets but was told the Jets were looking to go in a younger direction. To some, the risk of losing players like Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty to younger and relatively unproven players was a bad idea and could ruin the Jets playoff hopes. But with the way Ehlers has preformed so far, the decision seems to be paying off. How much do Jets fans miss Stempniak and Tlusty now?
Many have written off the notion that Ehlers could win the Calder Trophy. With rookies such as Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Max Domi and Anthony Duclair dominating headlines, Ehlers has become much of an afterthought. At the pace that he has been preforming, Ehlers surely will be in contention for the trophy throughout the season. It should be noted that it appears that this year's rookie class looks to be one of the deepest in years.
The boost Ehlers has given the Jets has provided the team with a valuable top six weapon and has added a great deal of depth to the Jets forward core. That's huge for the Jets going forward, as they will strive to reach the post season for a second straight season.
The best is yet to come for Nikolaj Ehlers. Buckle up Jets fans, this kid is going to take the Jets places.