Dallas Stars prospect Patrik Nemeth keeps it simple when it comes to media interviews. His answers to questions are straight forward and to the point. That reflects the way he plays. There’s nothing fancy about Nemeth’s game, but he gets the job done and does it well. And that’s why the Swedish defenseman is so highly regarded by the Stars.
“He plays a real consistent game,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “He’s all-in. He has a passion to play and he’s got ability. That’s a pretty good combination to advance.”
Nemeth, the Stars’ second round pick (41st overall) in 2010, will be making the jump to North America this season after spending the last two seasons with AIK in Sweden’s top league.
“Here’s a kid who has played two years against men. In some ways, he’s ahead of a lot of the guys going into Texas,” said Les Jackson, Dallas Stars Director of Player Personnel. “He’s had two years in the Swedish Elite League, he’s played in the last two World Junior Championships for Sweden. He’s a kid with a great attitude, he’s a great teammate and he has a great base of abilities. I sense he is going to go in there and do well right off the hop.”
The 20-year-old native of Stockholm played more than 100 Swedish Elite League games– 84 in the regular season and 18 in the postseason.
“It’s been a good two years and I feel I am ready to take the step to North America,” said Nemeth.
In the 84 regular season games he had 11 points (1 goal, 10 assists) and a plus-4 rating. The offensive numbers don’t jump out at you, but he’s considered a well-rounded defenseman. He’s solid defensively, can move the puck and does have some offensive attributes.
“He’s got a little bit of everything in the game. I think the base is defending and advancing the puck,” said Jackson. “I don’t know what his upside offensively will be, but he’s good on the penalty kill, he’s a good defender, he’s a good skater and he’s got a good shot from the point. Time will tell, but right now he has a good base to work with for sure.”
Nemeth did show some offensive flair at the 2012 World Junior Championship, picking up five assists in six games as Sweden won the gold medal. Those five assists were tops among all defensemen at the tournament. He assisted on two game-winning goals, including the only goal in Sweden’s 1-0 win over Russia in the championship game.
“It was fun,” Nemeth said. “I played in two World Juniors. It’s a short tournament, but it’s good.”
As is the case with many young players, there is still plenty to work on for Nemeth, who was among the Dallas prospects who took part in the team’s development camp in Frisco last month.
“You want to work on everything,” he said. “You want to improve your puck skills, your skating and your shot. It’s everything.”
Nemeth, who shoots left-handed, is physical and can play with a bit of a mean streak. He possesses good size (6-3, 212 pounds) and strength.
“He’s one strong human being,” said J.J. McQueen, Dallas Stars Player Development Coordinator. “I’d put him at the strength of (Nicklas) Grossmann and (Mattias) Norstrom. He’s a very strong man.”
Nemeth’s often been compared to Grossmann, the former Dallas defenseman and fellow Swede, and it’s a comparison he welcomes.
“I know him personally,” said Nemeth. “He’s a good guy and a very good hockey player. It’s fun.”
Making the move from Europe means Nemeth will have to adjust to playing in North America. Part of that will be playing on the smaller ice surface. The 2012 World Juniors, which were played in Canada, gave him a taste of that.
“It’s a bit different,” said Nemeth. “I don’t know what happens in the fall, but we’ll see.”
He got a glimpse of what the American Hockey League looks like late last season. After AIK was eliminated from the Swedish Elite League playoffs, Nemeth spent some time with the Texas Stars. He wasn’t able to play due to an injury, but did watch a few AHL games and familiarize himself with the Texas organization.
“I haven’t seen American League games before,” Nemeth said. “I saw two games down there and thought it was pretty good hockey. It was a good experience to see how they played and how the games were.”
Nemeth is expected to start next season in Texas, but Jackson believes the Swedish defenseman is close to challenging for playing time at the highest level of hockey.
“I don’t feel like he’s that far from the NHL,” Jackson said. “It’s just a matter of going down there and playing and adjusting to the everyday lifestyle of the North American game and culture. I think he’s knocking on the door.”