Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Nico Daws.
After being a back-up goaltender with the Guelph Storm on their way to the 2019 OHL Championship, goaltender Nico Daws was not taken in the NHL Draft. He came back with something to prove in 2019-20. Daws spent the summer getting in better shape and lost 30 pounds. He took over the starting job with the Storm, playing in 38 games. Daws went 23-8-6 with a 2.48 goals-against-average and .924 save percentage. He led the league in save percentage. Daws also played half a game for Team OHL in the Canada-Russia Super Series. In 31 minutes, Daws stopped all 13 shots he faced and led the OHL to the win. Daws translated that success into a spot with Team Canada at the World Juniors. He played two games and helped Canada to the gold medal, playing a backup role to St. Louis Blues prospect Joel Hofer.
In 2018-19, Daws played 20 games for the Storm. He put up a 10-5-2 record with a 3.25 goals-against-average and .893 save percentage. In 2017-18, Daws played 14 games with a 1-7-1 record, a 4.06 goals-against-average and .880 save percentage.
Daws was born in Munich, Germany but came to Canada at a young age, playing his minor hockey in Burlington, Ontario.
Nico Daws Scouting Report
Goalie — shoots Left – catches Left
Born December 22nd, 2000 — Munich, Germany
Height 6’4″ — Weight 202 lbs [193 cm/92 kg]
Skating and Talent Analysis
At 6-foot-4, Daws has the size that NHL teams have been looking for in their goalie prospects in recent years. He makes the most of that size by playing at the top of the crease, or even further, and challenging shooters. Daws has strong legs and gets a good push going both forward and backwards. This allows him to get back if an attacker tries to deke him. He also has the ability to get across the crease quickly if there is a cross-ice pass. Daws quick legs also take away the bottom of the net effectively. He gets down in the butterfly quickly and is very difficult to beat along the ice. Daws can also pop back up quickly.
Daws is extremely athletic. He has a very good glove hand that takes away the top of the net. Daws rebound control is good for a young goaltender but like many young goalies, it is an area he can improve. He is quick enough to get back in the play and get square to the puck for a second shot when a rebound is given up. He tracks the puck well and stays in a good position, always square to the puck and cutting down his angle. Daws could stand to work on his blocker though.
Daws also gets out of the crease and handles the puck well. He gets out of his net to retrieve dump-ins and makes a pass to his defencemen to start the transition game. He can also take advantage of the other team if they make a bad line change. Daws can throw the long breakaway pass to a forward up at the opposition’s blue line if it is available. When he catches the puck, he understands when there is an opportunity to keep it moving and start the transition game.
Some have criticized the way that Daws played in the World Juniors, giving up four goals and getting pulled against the Russians in the round-robin. This led to him losing the starting job to Joel Hofer. However, this appears to be a one-off. The Guelph Storm were supposed to be in a rebuilding season. Instead, it was Daws, coming off the disappointment of not being drafted, who held the team together and was leading them to a solid record. He showed resiliency in overcoming that challenge and becoming the best draft-eligible goalie in North America.
Daws was a rock for the Guelph team. The defenders would look to him to be cool and calm when facing heavy pressure and fighting through it. He didn’t let a bad goal get to him and would be ready to make the next save.
Projection and Comparison
Daws will need to continue his development. He should be back in the OHL next season, playing as a number one goalie, either in Guelph or somewhere else (if traded as Guelph rebuilds). Given that he was a backup in his first two years of junior and that his third year was cut short by COVID-19, he needs to play games. Expect him to carry a heavy workload. He will also need time in the AHL after that. Like many young goalies, expect him to be three or four years away from making an NHL impact. Daws game is reminiscent of Connor Hellebuyck but this is not a talent comparison, merely one based on style.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Nico Daws that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Nico Daws Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC – JANUARY 5, 2020: Canada’s Quinton Byfield, Kevin Bahl, Nicolas Daws, and Jamie Drysdale (L-R) celebrate victory in the 2020 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship final match between Canada and Russia at Ostravar Arena; Canada won 4-3. Peter Kovalev/TASS (Photo by Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images)