Player: Nicky Leivermann
Height: 5’10” Weight: 170 lbs.
Team: Eden Prairie(MN) High School
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 119th among North American skaters
What I like
Leivermann’s best asset is his ability to pass the puck. For as much attention as teammate Casey Mittelstadt (rightfully) got during the high school season, Leivermann was arguably just as important to the success of his team. Eden Prairie’s worst stretch of the year came in December when Leivermann was out with an injury. He was so good at bringing the puck out of his own zone and starting the offensive rush with a strong pass, and providing a second option on the power play when teams inevitably focused all their manpower on Mittelstadt.
His vision and ability to get the puck on a teammate’s stick is an elite level skill, and he generates a lot of offense with it.
In addition to playing hockey, Leivermann is also one of the best lacrosse players in Minnesota. He tied a state record with an eight-goal game in last year’s state lacrosse tournament. Even though he’s not the biggest kid, he has the type of plus-level athleticism that it takes to compete at the NHL level.
What I don’t like
Leivermann has always been a good player, but has never quite been a player that can consistently take over games the way one would expect a definite NHL Draft pick to do. He’s always been more of a secondary or complementary player, and can sometimes disappear from games.
While I do think Leivermann is pretty athletic, he’s not what would be considered an elite level skater, and that, combined with his size means he’s going to have a very tough time defending guys that are both big and fast at the next level. He’s going to have to just get by defensively and hope that what he produces on the offensive end cancels that out.
Leivermann isn’t a sure-fire bet or a complete player by any stretch of the imagination. But you’re not going to find a player like that in the fourth or fifth round. It will be a struggle to find players like that in the first round this year. So ultimately, what teams will be looking for in the later rounds of the draft will be players with one or two elite level skills that they can hopefully some day build the rest of their game around. I think Leivermann has that. He isn’t always the flashiest player, but his puck-moving ability is really good, and I could see him some day being a guy that the stats guys love because he knows how to get the puck to the right end of the ice. With it being a weaker draft this year, I could see Leivermann being picked as high as the fourth or fifth round.
Leivermann will have plenty of time to develop before the team that drafts him has to make a decision on him. He is scheduled to head off to British Columbia next season to play for the powerhouse Penticton Vees program for one year, before enrolling at the University of Notre Dame. That should give him time to improve his skating a bit and really refine his game as an offensive-minded power play specialist.
For a pro projection, I can’t see Leivermann ever improving enough defensively to be a true top pairing guy that logs big ice time, but he could potentially serve a role at the NHL level. He could carve out a solid niche as a guy that puts up decent possession numbers provided he isn’t asked to do too much, and could potentially even contribute on the power play.