After averaging nearly two points per-game in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season, Winnipeg Jets prospect Nikolaj Ehlers is hoping to make the leap to the NHL this season.
The 5-foot-11, 176-pound forward scored 37 goals and 101 points in 51 games with the Halifax Mooseheads last season. He added 10 goals and 21 assists in 14 playoff games prior to being called up by the Winnipeg Jets in April.
Ehlers also represented Denmark at the world juniors scoring a goal and three assists in five games.
“I feel like over the last year in Halifax, I really improved on some details on and off the ice. I think I’m going to come (to training camp) as a better player and bigger,” Ehlers said at the Jets’ prospects camp in July. “I want to make the team this year and obviously I’ve got to work hard for that.”
The 19-year-old is also realistic of his chances of playing for the Jets next season.
“It’s going to be tough coming back here and trying to get that one spot on the team,” he said. “But there’s lot of excitement and I think that on the ice there’s a lot of things that I can improve on.”
If he doesn’t crack the Jets’ opening night roster, he would have to be returned to junior because he is not old enough to play in the American Hockey League.
However, Ehlers could have a second option, if he is unable to make the leap to the NHL this season.
The Jets’ 2014 first-round pick told news agency Sportinformation last week that he’s considering spending the 2015-16 season in Europe.
“I honestly do not think about this now,” he said. “But Switzerland is at the top of my list if I’m not going to play in the NHL in the upcoming season.”
After recording 205 points in 114 QMJHL games over two seasons, returning Ehlers to junior doesn’t seem like the best move for his development. The Dane will certainly be one to watch at next month’s camp in Winnipeg.