Andrew Nielsen


Red Deer Alberta

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3rd Round (65h Overall), 2015


210 lbs.

<<<<<<< Updated upstream

2012-13: Andrew Nielsen played for the Red Deer Elks Midget AA team in Alberta. He scored 8 goals with 17 assists and 124 penalty minutes in 34 regular season games. Nielsen had 4 assists and 16 penalty minutes in five playoff games. 

2013-14: Nielsen made his WHL debut — appearing in a January game with the Lethbridge Hurricanes with no points nor penalties — and played midget AAA hockey with the Red Deer Chiefs in his hometown. He scored 3 goals with 15 assists and 34 penalty minutes in 35 regular season games. The Chiefs finished first in the Chrysler Division, defeating Lloydminster in the AMHL finals before falling to Okanagan in overtime of the decisive third game in the Pacific regionals, missing out on their third straight trip to the Telus Cup. Nielsen had 5 assists and 8 penalty minutes in 11 post-season games. 

2014-15: Nielsen skated in 59 games for the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes in his first season, missing time late in the year with an upper body injury. He scored 7 goals with 17 assists and was -9 with 101 penalty minutes. Lethbridge finished sixth in the Central Division, missing the WHL playoffs. Nielsen was invited to the NHL Prospect Combine in June and was ranked 52nd amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings. He was selected by Toronto in the third round (65th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft. 

2015-16: Nielsen attended his first training camp with the Maple Leafs before returning to Lethbridge for his second WHL season — signing a three-year entry-level contract with Toronto in November 2015. He made his pro hockey debut with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in April following the Hurricanes’ season. In five games with the Marlies he had 2 assists and was -2 with no penalties. Nielsen played 71 games for Lethbridge, scoring 18 goals with 52 assists, and was +30 with a team-leading 122 penalty minutes. The Hurricanes were one of the big surprises in junior hockey, finishing first in the Central Division after missing the WHL playoffs six straight seasons. Lethbridge fell to Regina in a first-round playoff series. Nielsen scored 1 goal with 2 assists and was -5 with 6 penalty minutes in five playoff games.

Talent Analysis

Nielsen is a big, physical defenseman who has taken huge steps during his junior career. A team leader who can generate offense, he also has a big shot that is especially effective on the power play. He continues to evolve in terms of his defensive positional play.


Nielsen was at the heart of one of the bigger turnarounds in junior hockey skating with Lethbridge in 2015-16 and made his AHL debut with the Toronto Marlies late in the year. The prototypical late bloomer, Nielsen will be eligible to play for the Marlies in 2016-17 but could also return to Lethbridge for one more junior season. Long-term he projects as a Bryce Salvador-type physical defenseman.

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Photo: Lethbridge Hurricanes defenseman and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Andrew Nielsen was an NHL Combine invite before being chosen by the Leafs at the 2015 NHL Draft (courtesy of Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)



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Photo: The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Mitch Marner with the 4th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. (Courtesy of Mike Ehrmann/Getty Image)

Photo: The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Mitch Marner with the 4th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. (Courtesy of Mike Ehrmann/Getty Image)



The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the 2015 NHL Draft with a mission to stockpile talent, as part of their well-publicized rebuild plan. To that end, they quickly turned their seven selections into nine, trading their 24th overall selection to acquire additional picks in the upper rounds. Read more»