2008-09: Josh Nicholls was selected by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2nd round (27th overall) in the 2007 WHL bantam draft. In his rookie season he played 63 games for Saskatoon recording nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points. He was also a member of Team Pacific at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Port Alberni, BC where he recorded three assists in six games.
2009-10: Nicholls returned to Saskatoon for his second season and saw his point totals almost double to 48 in 71 games. He scored 18 goals and assisted on 30 others while posting a +19 plus/minus. He finished fifth on his team in scoring as a 17-year-old. Nicholls was selected 182nd overall by the Maple Leafs in 2010. He was ranked 199th by ISS and 90th by Central Scouting for North American skaters.
2010-11: Nicholls was the second-leading scorer on a Saskatoon team that had the WHL’s best record. In his third season of junior hockey, he scored 34 goals with 53 assists and was +50 with 47 PMs in 71 games. Nicholls scored 4 goals with 2 assists and was an even plus/minus with 6 PMs in 10 playoff games as the East Division champion Blades were swept by eventual WHL champion Kootenay in the second round.
2011-12: Nicholls returned to Saskatoon for his fourth season. He was off to a fast start for the Blades before suffering a serious knee injury in December that kept him out for almost two months. Despite the injury he scored 30 goals for the second straight season – finishing with 30 goals and 38 assists in 58 games – and was +6 with 24 penalty minutes in 56 games. The Blades finished third in the East Division and faced Medicine Hat in a first round playoff series. Nicholls scored 2 goals with 1 assist and was -3 with 2 penalty minutes in four games against the Tigers. He was not signed by the Leafs and re-entered the 2012 NHL Draft but was not selected.
2012-13: Nicholls played for Saskatoon as a 20-year-old; sharing the scoring lead for the Blades with Dallas prospect Matej Stransky. He was third in the WHL with 47 goals and had 38 assists in 71 games; finishing +19 with 43 penalty minutes. The Blades finished first in the East Division but were swept by Medicine Hat for the second year in a row. Nichols had 1 assist and was -4 with 9 penalty minutes in the series. Saskatoon participated in the Memorial Cup as the host team – handing eventual champion Halifax its only loss – and in four games during the tournament Nicholls scored 4 goals with 2 assists and was +1 with 4 penalty minutes. He signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Rangers in March, 2013.
2013-14: Nicholls appeared in six AHL games with Rangers’ affiliate Hartford in his first pro season; spending most of the year with the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. He was -4 with no points nor penalties skating with the Wolf Pack, who missed the AHL playoffs. Nicholls scored 20 goals with 22 assists and was -3 with 20 penalty minutes in 53 ECHL games for Greenville. The Road Warriors finished third in the South Division before reaching the Eastern Conference finals against Cincinnati. Nicholls scored 6 goals with 9 assists and was +4 with 14 penalty minutes in 18 playoff games.
2014-15: Nicholls had 1 assist and was -1 with no penalties in five AHL games for Hartford. He was the second-leading scorer for Greenville in his second ECHL season despite appearing in just 53 regular season games with the Road Warriors. Nicholls scored 21 goals with 22 assists and was -8 with 20 penalty minutes. Greenville missed the playoffs despite winning 39 of 72 games, finishing two points behind Orlando for the final spot in the competitive East Division.
2015-16: Nicholls skated in 11 games with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and was the third-leading scorer for Rangers’ ECHL affiliate Greenville in his third pro season. He scored 1 goal with 2 assists and had an even plus/minus with 4 penalty minutes during his time with Hartford. Nicholls scored 21 goals with 24 assists and was -17 with 32 penalty minutes in 58 regular season games for the re-christened Swamp Rabbits. Greenville missed the ECHL playoffs, finishing fifth in the South Division.
Nicholls has an interesting combination of size and speed, He is a two-way forward who displays some offensive upside and can play both center and on the right wing. He is not a physical force but forechecks well. A well-rounded forward that was dangerous in all areas of the ice during his junior career, he has struggled to crack the AHL level thus far as a pro.
Nichols was a long-term project coming out of junior hockey. He has had some scoring success in the ECHL but has played just 22 games at the AHL level in his first three pro seasons. He projects as a versatile two-way forward with size, but with the depth in the Rangers' system he is not likely to be tendered a qualifying offer and could be an unrestricted free agent.