Sometimes the younger players who look good early on don’t end up being the players who look the best come draft day. Often times, players can stall in their development and never take those next steps that scouts anticipate when evaluating their potential. Such is the case with Swiss winger Nando Eggenberger. The talented power forward was one of the first players of the 2018 draft class to get considerable attention years ago. Now, with the NHL Draft fast approaching, Eggenberger’s stock is at a new low. Perhaps hoping to incite optimism in interested teams, Eggenberger is reportedly considering a move to North America and would be a top target in the CHL Import Draft. His pro team in the Swiss NLA, HC Davos, revealed that the young forward has received interest from teams and is contemplating the jump.
The move could definitely serve to benefit Eggenberger. While still an intriguing prospect, he is no longer in the position that he once was. At one point, Eggenberger’s name was often found in the same sentence as 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier as pundits evaluated the next wave of elite Swiss youth. Eggenberger is a true sniper and a strong skater and knows how to use his size both in front of the net and to win defensive battles. This time last year, Eggenberger had already played a full season of pro hockey at the highest level in Switzerland – and the NLA is considered one of the top European leagues – and while his low offensive production was foreseeable, pundits applauded his ability to skate and hold his own at that level as a kid not even old enough for the draft. “The Draft Analyst” Steve Kournianos even called Eggenberger a top ten player to watch. However, with the world indeed watching, Eggenberger did not get any better this season. He played in eight more games for Davos this year than last but registered the same amount of points and dropped from a +3 rating to a -12 on a very good team. Playing against competition his own age and ability at the World Juniors, many expected Eggenberger to lead the Swiss squad and show off his ability. Instead he went scoreless and posted a -9 rating in five games as the Swiss won just one game. He continues to play a one-dimensional game that lacks offensive forethought and creativity. A player with incredible tools that can’t put himself in a position to properly use them lacks career upside. As a result, Kournianos has Eggenberger ranked 78th in his final draft ranking and that is still an elevated opinion. Future Considerations ranks him at #88, while the Athletic’s Corey Pronman and Scott Wheeler both declined to put him on their draft boards.
Hoping to at least go in the first half of the draft this month, publicizing a potential move to North America is smart for Eggenberger. In the CHL, he cannot be used as a hired gun for only specific purposes as a pro team like Davos was able to use him. Eggenberger will be forced to play a complete game as his ability would surely make him a top-six forward for nearly any team. This responsibility could do wonders for his development into a more thoughtful, well-rounded player. Adding that potential growth into the calculus of his draft value, teams may be looking to bump Eggenberger back up their draft boards. Even if he doesn’t make the jump, the timing of this rumor from his team suits his draft stock well. Eggenberger will be a player to keep an eye out for during the later rounds on June 23rd.