Prospect Profile: Nate Danielson

Photo Via (Byron Hackett/Red Deer Advocate Website)

Name: Nate Danielson

Team: Red Deer Rebels (AMBHL)

Position: Center

Hometown: Red Deer, Alberta

Height/Weight: 5’7 130lbs

Hand: Right

WHL Draft: 

DraftGeek Rank: 4


Areas of Strength

  • Transitional Game
  • All Zone Intuition
  • Stick Work

Areas of Weaknesses

  • Lacks Strength
  • Finishing Abilities
  • Strength in Tight

Report: When it comes to players in this draft who trended upwards as the year progress Nate Danielson’s name is at the top of that list. Has moved his way into a consensus top ten spot, when earlier in the season he was viewed as a second rounder. A personal favorite that was always high on our list, Danielson was always the best player on the ice and helped the Red Deer Rebel’s Bantam AAA team reach the AMBHL Finals, before losing in game five. Danielson is the top two-way center in this draft class, taking over the game on both ends of the rink and commanding possession time when on the ice. No player in this draft was chased after more than Danielson. Danielson has a hunched over stance with long legs, his stride is calm and swift reminding me of the Portland Winterhawks Cody. Danielson’s physique, he’s slight and scrawny at this age, and smooth skating makes him slippery with the puck, gliding by closeouts along the wall and slipping through tight lanes. Responsible in his defensive end Danielson supports defenseman in puck battles in his own zone. A magician with his stick defensively, swatting away opposing sticks and gaining the inside edge retrieving pucks under pressure. Uses this ability to grab pucks out of feet in battles below his own goal line and delivers quick passes to his winger before finessing his way up to re-receive the puck. Danielson is the trigger point for transitional play as he gains speed quickly and deep in his defensive end and carries it calmly through the neutral zone. Danielson is a north-south center that has the slick puck handling to avoid checks and maintain his speed around defenders. Plays with loads of control not only with the puck but also with his feet and his movement. Executes stick handles/passes/shots with a soft touch as everything happens in one fluid motion and opposing players often do not see it coming. Elite agility and spatial awareness, he creates excellent spacing and adjusts his attack based on the calculated information he retrieves through heady awareness. Despite being unable to consistently produce this past season, Danielson’s ability to mix up his attacking approach shows us the questions about his offensive game will be answered as he continues to grow. Danielson can burn defenders wide with swift movement down the wall or he can create a shooting lane through the middle of the ice set up with a toe drag around the defenseman. He can exploit defensive triangles and walk opposing defenseman to get around the net. Beats defenders without issue wide thanks in part to how lanky he is. He gets the puck in front and controls it out of the distance of opposing sticks. A natural playmaker more than a finisher, Danielson’s ability to execute elevating passes at top speed and processing the game as swiftly as he moves and showing the confidence to deliver when passing options open. However, the elite hockey IQ that Danielson possesses is what will make him become a superstar WHL player. He recognizes his strength with his reach and thin physique to maneuver through tight holes in defensive coverage. Danielson’s ability to process developing plays offensively and defensively is fantastic, doing so at a high speed and performing on what he reads with cleverness. He adapts better than anyone else in this draft to pressure points as he doesn’t adjust his speed nor attacking style but instead makes close-range passes to free up pressure and receive the puck back. He has tremendous vision making him capable of executing no-look passes at all paces. Danielson has a knack for elevating teammates performances when they play on his line as he opens up so much space for line mates and shows the confidence to find players with timely passes to that open space. One area of weakness for Danielson is his shot as he has a soft release and low power behind it. At the recent Alberta Cup, he had numerous scoring chances but failed to finish. He started to attack down the middle a bit more and adjust his speed over the blue line. On the Olympic size ice, he used the space better, taking ice and curling up the wall to allow plays to open up for him through the middle of the ice. Always has his head up, locating different lanes to attack through and anticipating defensive movements that he had to maneuver around. There’s so much flare and finesse to Nate Danielson’s game. His skating compares to Penticton Vee’s forward Cole Shepard in the sense that it is calm and controlled with non-stop endurance. Danielson is a top five player in this draft class. The strengths to his game like his calmness, hockey IQ, 200-foot game, and execution at top speed are hard to engrave in a player while the weaknesses to his game like strength and shooting are things that can be easily tinkered with and fixed. He’s got traits to his game that are unteachable. He’s a natural talent that may not reach 6’0 but will also have the ability to avoid physicality and drive the play from one end of the rink to the other quickly.