Weight: 174 Pounds
Date of birth: April 26, 2002
Hometown: Vitkovice, Czech Republic
OHL Draft: Round 1, 50th overall, 2019 CHL Import Draft
NHL Central Scouting Rankings
|C Prospect||C Prospect||5 Euro||
Although Nick Malik has lived most of his life in the Czech Republic, he has both Czech and American citizenship. Malik was born in Raleigh, North Carolina while his father Marek manned the blueline for the Carolina Hurricanes. His Brother Zack is also a hockey player, having played in the OHL for the Sudbury Wolves and North Bay Battalion and played this season in the United States hockey League. Zack is 20 months older and like his father is a defenceman.
Drafted in the first round of the 2019 CHL Import Draft, Malik was also drafted at the 2019 USHL Draft in the 11th round by the Muskegon Lumberjacks, the same team his brother would play for. Because Malik has represented the Czech Republic internationally at IIHF sanctioned tournaments, he is no longer able to represent the United States at such events.
Malik has a wealth of international experience having represented the Czech Republic in Under-16 tournaments twice, the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 twice, Under-18, the World Junior Championships and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
The 2018-2019 season saw Malik start 6 games for HC Ocelari Trinec Under- squad and post a respectable 2.41 goals-against-average and a save-percentage of .932. He took his game to another level in the playoffs, leading his squad to a championship with a goals-against-average of 1.74 and a save-percentage of .960 in 8 games, leading all goaltenders in both categories in the playoffs.
This season saw Malik play for HC Frydek-Mistek in the Czech2 league and in 19 games posted a 2.46 goals-against-average and .927 save-percentage. But after the World Junior Championships were completed, Malik decided he would join the Soo Greyhounds. His decision was influenced by fellow Czechian and Soo Greyhound Jaromir Pytlik. On January 10, 2020 Greyhounds’ GM Kyle Raftis made it official and Malik was set to join the team.
Malik’s stats in the OHL were nothing to write home about – a 3.77 goals-against-average and .886 save-percentage. I will be the first to admit I had limited live viewings of Malik in the OHL, but I did watch all of his games in the O whether live or on video. I also saw video of all of his major international competitions. So, “grain of salt” must be added.
Malik plays the butterfly technique extremely well. He has decent size at 6’2” but his ability to keep himself big when down on his knees is close to perfect. He plays with a calm demeanor when there are battles for pucks in front of him and is very adept at taking away the lower part of the net.
As mentioned, things didn’t go particularly well in the Soo. And when they didn’t, Malik appeared to quickly forget what just happened and was ready for the next puck to come his way. To put it another way- he seems to never get rattled. Having experiencing playing against men prior to coming to the OHL may have helped with that.
Malik is extremely athletic in his crease with elite level reflexes. He has a superb glove hand and can snare pucks coming had him he has no business stopping. Despite the superb athleticism, he can sometimes be erratic in his movement in his crease.
Malik also appeared at times to struggle with his angles. One could reasonably accept that there would be a transition stage coming from the larger ice surface in Europe because pucks and players come at you differently. But as the games went on, you could see a comfort level and more confidence creeping into him. That adaptation and confidence was evident in his numbers as well, as they began to improve as he played more.
With any young netminder, there are always areas to improve on, and Malik is no different. While I think his technique is fine, he needs to get better on his skates. Edgework needs to improve; his lateral movement and his post-to-post movement are things to work on. They aren’t areas to worry about as good coaching can help overcome those things.
You have to be impressed by the tools Malik has displayed. It will all come down to putting everything together. Becoming more economical in his movements are key first and foremost. Keeping his athleticism to the level he possesses while playing a more patient and controlled game is also key. A continued growing confidence and becoming more accustomed to North America will only help him.
It’s hard to say how many goaltenders will be drafted from the OHL this season. About the only sure thing is that Nico Gross of the Guelph Storm will go number one. After that, it becomes a personal preference in what order they get selected. In my humble opinion, based on everything I’ve seen around the league, Malik should be the second name called among OHL netminders.