Each Tuesday Pucks of A Feather will catch up with one prospect in the Anaheim Ducks’ system. This week will feature Wisconsin Badger’s center Nicolas Kerdiles.
Last I week I featured Northeastern forward Kevin Roy, who is one of the better offensive players in college hockey, but University of Wisconsin center Nicolas Kerdiles could end up one of the better overall players at the college level.
Kerdiles entered his college career with a bit of controversy, as his eligibility was called into question by the NCAA after he accepted a ‘benefit’ based on him being an athlete. During the NHL draft, his advising team found a hotel room closer to Console Energy Center (his family PAID for the room).
After originally facing a year long suspension, it was reduced to ten games – and despite a late start Kerdiles still led the team in assists and points. His 33 points in 32 games marked the first time that a freshman at Wisconsin averaged at least a point per game since Joe Pavelski did it during the 2004-2005 season.
All though a center at times during his time with the U.S National Development Team, he shifted to the wing full-time at Wisconsin, but not to his own fault – noted centers like Pavelski and Derek Stepan spent time at wing their freshman year to adjust to the system at Wisconsin.
“There’s a lot of responsibility that the center has [in our system]. We’ve just found that to give a young freshman that responsibility is little overwhelming. Putting Nic in the middle [this season] is based on his growth and understanding of what we want to get done.”
Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves
Realizing the opportunity and the responsibility of the move back to the pivot, Kerdiles has relished the role – opting to take summer classes to allow him to remain on campus to spend the offseason working out and preparing for his role.
“As a centerman, you’re usually back in the defensive zone and you’re using a little more energy being down there defensively,” Kerdiles said. “The defensive responsibilities are a little different because college is a big step up and the guys are that much better. So getting into that defensive zone mentally, staying on the right side of my guy and having good body position with him.”
The Badgers have struggled out of the gate, posting a 4-3-1 record in their first eight games but that hasn’t stopped Kerdiles from producing. Again on a point per game pace, scoring four goals and four assists – with one goal coming shorthanded.
Back taking the faceoffs this year, he has won over 50% of his draws – winning 64-of-125 in the circle (.512), a number while good, is something that you would like to see improve and with the work he has already put in becoming a better player don’t be surprised when it happens.
There is no rush in trying to plug Kerdiles into the Ducks’ lineup, so if he chooses to play out his college career don’t expect his NHL team to be disappointed, with the progress in his game he made in just one season, imagine what two more could do.
In the end Kerdiles likely projects as a two-way third line center with the potential to be a second line pivot depending on if his offense carries over to the NHL. Though it is never guaranteed, the more his defensive game improves – the more likely he finds a spot in the NHL.
With good size (6’2), an ever improving two-way game, and great hockey smarts, Kerdiles would fit perfectly placed right behind Ryan Getzlaf down the road. You know he is going to work as hard as humanly possible to get there, as his first game at the Honda Center would be a homecoming for him – he grew up 20-minutes from Anaheim’s home arena.
With the World Juniors a month away, Ducks’ fans may have a perfect opportunity to see the hometown kid light it up on the big stage.
Give Nic a follow on Twitter as well, @NicKerdiles