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2022 NHL DRAFT: CANADA – Ty Nelson, D, North Bay Battalion, OHL

Ty Nelson has had a successful journey so far in his hockey career and it looks like it will continue as he’s developed into a talented defenseman. In his OHL draft year, he got the opportunity to showcase his talents at the Youth Olympics Games and had a great year with the Toronto Junior Canadiens U16 team, averaging over a point-per-game in both the regular season and playoffs, eventually capturing the GTHL championship. Nelson then went on to be selected first overall by the North Bay Battalion in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection. Unfortunately, Nelson and the rest of the OHL were forced to miss the season because of Covid and lost a key year of development. Entering his draft year season, Nelson looked like he had no difficulty adjusting to the OHL and quickly became the Battalion’s most reliable defenseman, playing 23 plus minutes a game and being effective on both sides of the puck. Nelson consistently displays a very high motor that never seems to quit and uses it to apply great pressure on puck carriers, making him difficult to play against with his physicality. The style of play that Nelson brings is unique and many of his tools will put him in high demand at the draft. His quickness, competitiveness, and great offensive awareness all stand out consistently and make him a potential first round pick, but there are still some concerns that some teams may hold more weight than others. Nelson will need to improve his 4-way mobility to maximize his potential as a defenseman, but it is something that can be worked on and shouldn’t take away from his overall potential. Nelson has the potential to become a top-4 defenseman who can be relied on heavily with minutes and has the ability to play on both the power play and penalty kill. If he reaches his full potential, I believe there’s a real possibility that he could become a player similar to Ryan Ellis or Jared Spurgeon.

Ty Nelson of the North Bay Battalion. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Ty Nelson Date of Birth: 2004-03-30
Position: D, Shoots: R H/W: 5'10", 197lbs
Stats to Date: (GP-G-A-PTS-PIMS) North Bay Battalion,


Nelson is an explosive skater who has been an effective player for the Battalion all season, especially in transition where he is leading breakouts consistently and creating many controlled offensive zone entries using both his speed and vision to find the best lane possible. Nelson is a very active skater, always moving his feet, having both the ability to escape and separate himself while under pressure and also to quickly get into open space to give his teammates an option when needed. One area that he will need to improve is his 4-way mobility. While defending on the transition, there are times when he isn't able to contain opponents with speed, and he doesn't have the quickness to keep them to the outside or shut down the attempted zone entry. Nelson isn’t the best backwards skater, and because of this, there are many times where he is forced to turn around and skate forwards to gain speed while defending a rush. This could turn into a concern if it becomes a habit. Not being able to stay face-to-face with the puck carrier gives them more room and time to make a play and takes away the ability to keep a strong gap control and suppress chances with his stick. This is something that can be improved, but it also is something to keep in mind, especially with a defenseman projected to go in the first round. Overall, Nelson is a good skater with some areas to improve, but he also has the work ethic to fine-tune those areas and become a very effective two-way defenseman.

This clip shows where Nelson will need to make improvements with his lateral/backwards skating. As this play starts on the transition, Nelson’s positioning is good until he bites on the puck carrier and leaves a hole open. He doesn’t have the mobility or quickness to close the hole fast enough and allows an opponent to easily fly past him, with the play resulting in a goal against.

This is a great display of Nelson’s explosiveness and ability on the transition to exit the defensive zone and gain the offensive zone all on his own. After a miss-handle by the Greyhounds player, Nelson quickly see’s the loose puck and goes after it, beating both opponents to the puck. His quick three steps produce great acceleration to separate himself and he gains great speed going through the neutral zone and easily enters the offensive zone with his teammate also on the rush on a 2 on 1. Nelson ends up taking the shot, getting a good attempt on net, but gets turned away.

Nelson can be deceptive with his skating and this is a great example of him using a head fake and his strong edges to deceive which direction he was going and quickly turn away to separate himself. After finding open space, Nelson’s able to navigate through the neutral zone with his vision, finding holes and using strong puck control to handle the puck through traffic and gain the offensive zone.

Grade: 55


When you think of what Nelson’s best assets are, one of the first things that comes to mind is his shot. Nelson’s shot is both heavy and powerful and it’s almost surprising when he releases a bomb from the point because he’s not the biggest guy. He’s able to use his strength very well to get a lot out of his shot and doesn’t pass up an opportunity to use it, either for a scoring chance or just to get a puck through traffic for a redirection. Nelson is a volume shooter, basically shooting from anywhere if the shots available and has no trouble shooting from distance. Nelson loves to shoot the puck and has been one of the most active shooters in the league out of all players including forwards, currently ranked 18th in the league for most shots on goal. Although he averages 3 shots on goal per game, many of his shots are from low danger areas and do not always challenge the goalie. On some occasions this year, he’s left games with over 10 shot attempts on the score sheet. There are times where he chooses to shoot when there’s other and sometimes better options, but it isn’t consistent or a concern, just something he could focus on and improve to make the best decision available. When you look at his shot map, you can see that the majority of his shot attempts are coming from the point, but only 39.6% of those shots are on net. If he can work on limiting his low-danger shots and scan the ice more often to find a passing option or to attack the slot more often, he could become much more effective in the OZ. His slapshot is a cannon, and as he develops and continues to improve, his shot could become a very nice tool for teams to use on a powerplay as a trigger man.

I love this goal by Nelson because it shows how well he anticipates play and understands when to jump into the offensive zone to attack the net. After firing a shot wide, Nelson stays high and gets into open space while watching the puck. He sees his teammate force a turnover and quickly skates into the slot, finishing a great one-timer for a very nice goal.

Here’s a clip to show how powerful and effective Nelson’s shot is. After picking up the puck at the blue line, Nelson see’s the space that he has, so he takes a few strides and winds up for a slapshot, scoring top corner with a very heavy shot.

Grade: 60


Nelson has the ability to catch many eyes because of his high motor and competitiveness, but he also has the skill to deke past opponents one-on-one in tight areas and at high pace for some highlight plays. His quick hands are able to control the puck through traffic well, being able to get into high-danger areas for scoring chances. He displays a lot of confidence when carrying the puck, rarely mishandling or showing difficulty with it, even when under pressure. Nelson is a strong playmaker and displays his great vision very consistently, especially on the power play. Nelson is the quarterback on the power play and the play drives through his passes. He makes accurate passes tape to tape very consistently, making it easier for his teammates to control and quickly get a shot off. Under pressure he’s able to remain patient and wait for passing lanes to open up before hitting a teammate with perfect timing. He does a great job moving the puck in all three zones, but one area that he could improve upon is becoming less aggressive and limiting some of the high-risk passes he makes, which at times, result in turnovers that could be avoided. However, Nelson has a great offensive mindset and loves to attack in the offensive zone and create havoc for defenders, so it is important not to stifle his creativity. He has the puck handling to drive to the net with the puck and has quick hands to react and make a play quickly.

I was lucky enough to see this play live, so I knew I had to include this great sequence by Nelson. Starting the play in his own end, he quickly gains speed with a good use of crossovers and starts rushing through the neutral zone. After easily passing one opponent, he gains the offensive zone and is faced with an IceDogs defender. Attempting to go wide, he quickly tucks the puck past the defenders stick and gets a backhand shot on net. His shot creates a rebound to the other side of the net and Nelson is able to beat his opponent to the loose puck. He then quickly banks the puck around him and carries the puck to the top of the zone. Nelson then drives towards the net, fakes a slapshot, then gets a good chance on net with a wrist shot.

A nice deke from Nelson here, displaying his ability to make the skilled play that is also the efficient play. He receives a pass in the neutral zone and enters the offensive zone with a trailing teammate behind. Nelson looks at his teammate and tries to sell the pass, but the defender stays with him. After faking the pass, he puts the puck between his legs, lowers his shoulder, and beats the defender by going wide. Nelson’s then able to get a good shot on net.

Grade: 55


He loves to contribute offensively and be a part of the rush, having the positional awareness to get into open lanes, forcing defenders to adapt to the situation. This helps to open up holes for teammates. One thing that I find very impressive is that Nelson always knows where he needs to be and how to get there, finding space when there doesn’t seem to be any, but being able to deke past an opponent to get there. Nelson has the confidence to make very skilled plays, but he also has the understanding on when to make them, choosing the efficient play over making a skilled play that could result in a turnover shows he's responsible. Throughout the season you can see Nelson has made adjustments and is learning from mistakes that he would make at the beginning of the season. In the defensive zone, Nelson is very aware. Reading and anticipating plays, forcing turnovers by being aggressive on the puck carrier and having the positional awareness to make a blocked shot if needed. He’s very responsible and can eat a lot of minutes and still remain effective. Averaging 24 minutes and contributing on both the power play and penalty kill, Nelson is a utility knife that adapts well to any role given to him.

In this clip from the beginning of the year, Nelson is only looking at the puck carrier and doesn’t scan to see the other trailing opponent wide open on the other side. Nelson is over-aggressive and tries his best to defend, but is too late, with the play resulting in a goal against.

This is a great sequence displaying Nelson having much better awareness in the defensive zone, later in the season. While scanning the ice, Nelson notices the Colts forward get open by the net and quickly skates into the passing lane and redirects the pass. Nelson goes to the net and uses his stick to try and interrupt any chances. While the puck ends up with a Colts defenseman on the blue line, Nelson anticipates the pass and quickly applies pressure on the receiving forward, using his stick to quickly take away his space, finishing with a nice hit.

Grade: 55


One area of Nelson’s game that many fans will love is the physicality he brings on a nightly basis. He never shies away from making a big hit, no matter who the opponent is. There are many times where he shuts down a play completely, closing off the puck carrier to the boards and forcing the puck away with his stick. His high intensity and aggressiveness make him hard to play against. Never taking a shift off and even at the end of a long shift he will give a great effort. He has the quickness to get to loose pucks before opponents consistently and has the motor to out-battle any opponent to come out with the puck, being aggressive and strong along the boards. Nelson is effective on the penalty kill, having great positioning and the aggressiveness to close space quickly and limit time for opponents to make a play in high scoring areas. Having strong stick positioning, he’s able to take away passing lanes and apply pressure on the puck carrier while remaining aware of his surroundings by shoulder checking consistently. Nelson is rarely out of position, but there are times where he is over-aggressive and attempts to finish checks when the play is out of that area. I believe Nelson’s competitiveness will attract many teams at the draft as he’s unlike many prospects.

I felt like I had to make a compilation of clips to display Nelson’s physicality and competitiveness because he’s consistently a physical presence and delivers big hits like these very often. He never gives up a chance to finish a check and will make the crowd know it happened by displaying his great strength and catching some bigger opponents off guard.

Grade: 55

OFP: 55.5