Brandon Wheat Kings/WHL
Related: Riley Heidt
Nate Danielson is a well-rounded center with good size and mobility in the middle of the ice. He can set up his teammates with slick feeds through traffic or finish scoring plays on his own with his heavy release, but he is more efficient than he is flashy in how he generates offense. Danielson is a stud in transition, effectively moving the puck from the defensive side of the ice to the offensive side of the ice. He sees the ice well, passing east to west or through layers towards the net front. He is a steady-Eddie type of player who doesn’t jump off the page in any one element but is consistently playing against the opposition’s best, which limits his ability to produce at elite levels. Nate is still a work in progress offensively and, that’s what’s holding him back in our rankings. Last year, Danielson’s offensive numbers saw a massive jump from his rookie year, as he put up 23 goals and 57 points in 53 games. So far this season, Danielson has 24 goals and 58 points in 48 games. Nate Danielson is one of the most underrated prospects in the 2023 Draft and whoever drafts him is going to be getting a gem of a player.
Physical Play Average
Offensive Play Good
Defensive Play Great
Hockey Sense Excellent
1. complete player, with good size, mobility, and has the ability to defend at a high level, and good scoring skills.
2. Versatile player who was given a ton of responsibility, playing against opponent’s best players; shows dominance in the faceoff circle.
3. Danielson is a stud in transition, effectively moving the puck from the defensive side of the ice to the offensive side of the ice.
Areas of Improvement
1. He is a good shot but, he isn’t a consistently dynamic offensive threat at this point in his development.
2. Can execute high-difficulty passes, but he doesn’t show creativity or above-average problem-solving skills with a great level of consistency.
Danielson is one of the older players who is eligible for the NHL Draft for the first time in 2023, missing the cutoff for the 2022 draft by just a couple of weeks. He had a productive season with Brandon in the WHL in 2021-22, scoring 23 goals and 43 assists in 53 regular season games before adding another three points in six postseason contests. So far this season, Danielson has 24 goals and 58 points in 48 games and has been tasked with playing against the WHL’s top offensive players. Danielson is a mobile two-way pivot with a projectable frame who plays a strong north-south, middle-driven game. He has a compact stride with good ankle flexion, and he gets good extension as he powers through the neutral zone. He distributes the puck well, can finish in tight, and his wrist shot is fairly heavy, but he isn’t a consistently dynamic offensive threat at this point in his development. Danielson can execute difficult passes, and there are flashes of great puck skills, but he doesn’t show creativity or above-average problem-solving skills with a great level of consistency. He is a capable transporter in transition,
and though he is still a bit too straight-line oriented to be a regular threat to create offense off the rush, he is sometimes able to power his way around opposing defenders at the junior level. While there are obvious areas of improvement in his offensive game, Danielson is a refined player away from the puck. He competes hard all over the ice, supports the play diligently, and helps out down low in his own zone, and he has already proven to be a strong penalty killer
in the WHL. The NHL comparison for Danielson is Patrice Bergeron, who was also criticized for a lack of offensive upside and was known for his hard-working and gritty game, and two-way prowess. Nate Danielson still has to put it all together and continue to diversify his offensive attack, but Danielson has the tools and physical makeup to be an impactful two-way pivot in the NHL someday. Because the players who have higher upsides, Danielson could be one of those prospects who slide in the draft, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see him go in the 20s.
Skill: Hardworking two-way center with a strong shot, and excellent hockey sense
NHL Comparable: Patrice Bergeron
NHL Potential: Top 6 Two-Way Center
|2021-22||Brandon Wheat Kings||WHL||53||23||57|
|2022-23||Brandon Wheat Kings||WHL||48||24||58|