The future is not here quite yet for Patrik Nemeth, but he took a solid step forward in his first NHL game Tuesday night.
The 22-year-old Dallas Stars prospect is projected to earn a full-time position along the blue line as soon as next season. Nemeth was drafted 41st overall in 2010 by the Stars, and he has progressed into the second-best prospect in the Stars’ system behind the hulking Jamie Oleksiak. Though it was only one game, his performance in a 5-0 win over the Washington Capitals showed a glimpse of the future for the youngster.
Nemeth’s 6-foot-3, 235 pound frame instantly makes him one of the biggest defenseman the Stars have utilized this season. He uses his size and power to deal physical blows to opponents and get in the way of shots and passing lanes. He is not afraid of mucking it up with opponents in the dirty areas. Whether if he is in the corners or in front of the crease, he seldom gets physically dominated off the puck.
In the first game of his NHL career, Nemeth played 11:50 in limited situations, but he was noticeable when he was on the ice. He registered a shot on net and ended the night at plus one. He was not brought in for overwhelming numbers. Nemeth was called up to provide the same confident and dependable defense he provided all season in the AHL, and that is what he did.
A terrific aspect of Nemeth’s play is that he does not let his size hold back his mobility. Nemeth can land a crushing hit in the corner, collect the puck and skate it out of the zone with ease. He is capable of moving around the defensive zone in a hurry to make the right play. He is not very offensive-minded, so he will not necessarily lead the Stars up ice on a rush, but he is capable of quickly pinching into the zone or trailing the rush.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Nemeth is his positioning. He is very intuitive at positioning himself between opponents and his net. He occupies lanes and takes away space quickly and effectively, and he does the simple plays to make safe passes and clearing attempts.
If his first game with limited ice time is any indication, Nemeth has a bright future ahead of him, and the Stars have a great young player to help bolster one of the shakiest parts of their roster over the past few years.