On Monday morning, the National Hockey League announced its Three Stars of the Week. Led by a dominant goaltending performance from Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer and a strong offensive surge from Edmonton’s always-explosive Leon Draisaitl, Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers captured this past week’s third star, following his three-goal, six-point period of work.
In just three games played, Ehlers scored three times for the Jets, while adding another three assists. The 25-year-old currently leads the Jets with 14 goals on the season (sixth across the NHL), while also owning 29 points, which places him second on the Jets and 13th in the league. His three game-winners leads Winnipeg, as does his +10 plus/minus rating.
Ehlers’ performance included a two-assist showing in the club’s first game against Toronto on Tuesday. He then put up two goals and one assist against the Leafs on Thursday. His power play marker on Saturday helped the Jets pick up five of a possible six points against the Maple Leafs on the week and tie the Division leaders with a North Division-best .667 points percentage on the season.
“What I think he’s got now, this year, he’s on a line that he knows that if it’s on his stick he should think ‘shoot the puck.’,” Jets’ head coach Paul Maurice said of Ehlers’ game this season Monday morning. “He’s not trying to get it to Patrik, he’s not trying to defer to a veteran centre, he’s become his own pro. He knows his game, he knows what he’s capable of doing, he’s doing it consistently because he’s got time in the league, and he has a better definition of what his skill set is. ‘If I’ve got it on my stick, everybody on the bench, and if there were people in the stands, wants me to shoot this puck.’”
Ehlers’ accolade is the first Star of the Week recognition for Winnipeg thus far in 2020-21. Last season, the team had three appearances in he Three Stars of the Week. For his career, Ehlers has now won the First Star (October 16, 2018) and now the Third Star (March 15, 2021).
“He’s grown and matured,” Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters on Monday. “We really saw that in the bubble last year when (Mark Schiefele) and Patrik (Laine) went down to injury, Nikolaj’s game really rose. That has helped. He’s matured. He’s earned everything he’s gotten. He’s learned a lot along the way and he’s still a young player in that regard.”