By Brian Weidler, "St. Louis Game Time" Prospect Department
With the 25th pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, "St. Louis Game Time" has selected Nicolas Kerdiles, a forward from the US National Team Development Program U-18 squad.
Kerdiles, the son of French parents who was born in Texas and played his minor hockey in California, has been on the "Game Time" radar since midseason. A versatile forward who can play either center or left wing, Kerdiles appeared in 54 contests for the USNTDP U-18 squad this season, leading the team in almost every offensive category.
The 6' 1, 200-pound Kerdiles led the U-18 team in goals (22), assists (26), points (48), and power-play goals (7) during the 2011-12 campaign, and stepped up to the plate for Team USA at the World U-18 Junior Championships held last month in the Czech Republic. In six games for the Red, White and Blue, Kerdiles tallied four goals and nine points -- including two goals and five points in a 7-0 rout of Sweden in the championship game -- leading the USA to their fourth consecutive gold medal at the U-18 Worlds. He also excelled in the faceoff circle, winning 14 out of 25 faceoffs taken in the six games for a 64.1 win percentage, good for third place in the tournament.
In their 2012 NHL Entry Draft Guide, International Scouting Services ranks Kerdiles 15th overall, and grades him "Excellent" in the Competitiveness category and "Very Good" in the categories of Puck Skills, Shot, Offensive Play and Hockey Sense. ISS calls Kerdiles "a natural goal scorer with a nose for the net," and "a quick skater with great puck focus" as well as a dangerous and accurate shot.
The Hockey News, in their annual Entry Draft Preview, ranked Kerdiles 33rd overall and quoted an NHL scout as saying that he likes the way Kerdiles "attacks, the way he goes to the net and engages." THN went on to describe Kerdiles as "built in a power forward mold," and made note of his pro-style game, his size and speed, and his strength on the puck.
Kerdiles was ranked the 29th-best draft prospect in North America by Central Scouting in their Final rankings, down two spots from 27th at Midterm. He is committed to attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall, and will develop further with one of the nation's elite programs in Madison.
Other players who received consideration with this pick were: Kerdiles' USNTDP and Team USA teammate, defenseman Brady Skjei; center Scott Laughton of the OHL's Oshawa Generals; gritty forward Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL; and winger Martin Frk of the Quebec League's Halifax Mooseheads.