The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 OHL draft, guard Ty Nelson is looking forward to his rookie season in North Bay last year, and his world is at hand. And then — well, you know what’s going on; there are no seasons.
“It’s tough at first: You’re drafted, you’re super excited, and then boom — the season is delayed,” Nelson said. “But you look at it as a learning curve. Every time it’s delayed, it means more time to train and prepare. When it’s completely cancelled, obviously we’re devastated, but I said to myself, ‘There’s nothing you can do about it, so it’s time to get to work. I take the time to get better and improve myself.'”
So far, Nelson’s strategy has paid off: Now that OHL is back in the 2021-22 season, he’s scoring 26 points in 32 games, becoming one of the league’s top scorers among defensive players, and the battalion is enjoying its best season in years. Good season. It’s NHL draft season for Nelson, and he’s looking like a first-round pick right now.
“I really like him,” said one NHL scout. “I’ve watched every game he’s played and he’s improving. For a guy who’s been labelled by some as an offensive defender, I think he’s underrated defensively. He really plays with his feet and a stick, he Use your body to block space and get on that guy. He’s a good player.”
With no season to play in 2020-21, Nelson grew bigger and stronger last year and is now 5-foot-10 and 197 pounds. That’s quite a jump from when North Bay initially drafted Nelson at just over 5-foot-7 and 174 pounds less than two years ago. The Toronto-area product also needs time to improve on the mental side of his game. Nelson read “Relentless,” the memoir of former NFL wide receiver and Super Bowl champion Julian Edelman, and played a lot of chess and cards—and he did so with a very interesting and specific reason.
“Just learning how to pick up numbers quickly helped me become a defender,” he said. “When you open the gap, if you know there are five people in front of you, then you better move on and help build a better gap.”
Of course, Nelson’s biggest draw is the offensive spark he brings from the back end, and it’s probably no surprise that some of his favorite NHL players are watching in Colorado right now: Cale Makar and Bowen Byram. He especially admired their amazing skating abilities as well as their hockey IQ and vision.
Nelson continues to work on his own defensive play and his free-throw acumen, and scouts will no doubt keep an eye on his development in the second half of the season, though he doesn’t emphasize the draft rankings or the internet buzz Voice.A bit of chatter he couldn’t ignore but involved his very unique hairstyle.
“From when I was younger, I always dyed my hair before the season,” he said. “As the seasons go on, the hair starts to grow back, and so does the flow of natural curls. People either love it or hate it, and I do cheer for it.”
But if Nelson continues to provide numbers and beef up his defense, NHL teams won’t care what’s going on under the helmet. They just love the ice that the kids bring.