Alexander Nylander checks in as the 11th ranked prospect in our consensus voting.
The younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander, Alexander is a good prospect in his own right. Playing on a line with two other 2016 draft eligible players, Michael McLoed and Nathan Bastian, Nylander walked away with the CHL Rookie of the Year award. He also represented Sweden at the WJHC and U18’s.
So, let’s take a look at the young Swedish winger, who was born in Calgary Alberta.
- Age: 18, 1998-03-02
- Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- Frame: 6’0″, 179 lbs.
- Position: RW/LW
- Handedness: R
- Draft Year Team: Mississauga Steelheads
- Accomplishments/Awards: BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, Ivan Hlinka Memorial Silver Medal (15/16), U18 WHC Silver Medal (15/16), U17 WHC Bronze Medal (14/15), CHL Rookie of the Year (15/16), OHL All-Rookie First Team (15/16), OHL Third All-Star Team (15/16)
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Hockey bloodlines run deep in this year’s OHL draft class and Nylander is a familiar name. Brother of William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Alex is a similarly skilled offensive winger. He has fast hands, quick feet and a great shot. While slightly undersized by pro standards, he has begun showing signs of engaging in the physical side of the game but still needs to add some weight and strength. As he continues to develop physically and adjust to the North American game, expect his dynamic offensive skill set to continue to breakthrough and for Nylander to dominate the OHL.
Brother of Leafs prospect William Nylander and son of former NHLer Michael Nylander, Alexander was one of the top scorers in the OHL this season, and was one of the top under-18 scorers ever at the WJC. His skill level and his offensive hockey sense are elite. Nylander is able to think the game so quickly, and dominate possession whenever he gets near the puck. He sees options developing even without directly looking down the lanes, and is able to create space for himself. He’s got guts with the puck, sometimes putting the puck in risky spots, but overall he makes plays few other forwards do.Nylander’s speed is not elite, but it’s certainly above-average and flashes a grade above on top of his being very agile on his edges. He also features a quality wrist shot as well. Nylander’s defense could still use work. He’s too prone to losing battles and can misplay his position, but he did show significant progression in that area as the season went on, and steadily earned penalty killing time in the second half. He shows strong work ethic, and you can envision him cleaning up that area with proper development.
Nylander’s 11th place ranking isn’t as much an indictment of his ability as it is an acknowledgement of the strides made by other prospects to close out the year.
There is no doubt that Nylander is a very skilled prospect who has an intriguing skill set that would thrive in a high-tempo system. He skates very well, has a quick and deceptive release and has good vision when looking for his teammates. What stood out to me through my viewings, is that if you give Nylander time and space to get his wrist shot off, he places it perfectly. To the point where if he is anywhere around the circles and slot, the expectation is that he is scoring. Obviously, he doesn’t every time, but you just get the sense that he sees a seam, and is aiming for it.
Nylander’s skating is a cut above his peers. He is very shifty and able to switch from edge to edge quickly to avoid pressure. Using those and his stop/starts, he is able to separate himself from defenceman in the OHL and use that time and space to create chances. Ideally, his explosiveness would be better, but I think he will see an improvement there as he gets stronger as he enters his early twenties.
On the flip side, just like his brother, there are concerns that Nylander plays a soft style of game that may have trouble translating to the NHL. You do have to be concerned about that when using a high pick, but it is likely overstated. Using William Nylander as an example, there were those concerns which resulted in some teams maybe passing on him for a more ‘NHL Style’ game. Now William, posted over 1.0 PPG in the AHL and posted 13 points in 22 games for the Leafs – all before he was 20 years old.
So, that concern needs to be considered, but for someone as skilled as Alexander Nylander, there is a reason why they are so highly ranked.
Alexander Nylander got up to around 1.5 PPG and stayed there for the majority of the season, but fell to 1.316 PPG to end the year. That rate was third amongst OHL Draft Eligible forwards behind Matthew Tkachuk and Alex Debrincat.
As mentioned above, Nylander represented Sweden on two separate occasions this year. He had a very good showing at the U20 WJHC, where he was the most noticeable Swedish player after his brother William was out with a concussion. He showcased his skills perfectly and looked to be the real deal.
He also appeared in North Dakota for Sweden for U18 tournament in April. He actually showed well in spurts at the tournament, posting 11 points in 7 games there. At times, he disappeared but a lot of that can be attributed to Sweden being overmatched by Canada, US, and Finland. Nothing to be concerned about, but it was noticed and coupled with Tkachuk’s strong showing at the Memorial Cup – it may have slightly hurt Nylander’s stock, if not only because of some recency bias.
Using pGPS, 70% of Nylander’s comparable players went onto becoming NHL regulars.
One interesting wrinkle in regards to Nylander’s future development, just like Dallas Stars prospect Julius Honka, Nylander was loaned to the CHL by his European team. So that means he is not restricted to the OHL because of the NHL/CHL Transfer Agreement. The team who selects him does have the option of assigning him to the AHL next year. He could also play in the SHL or head back to the OHL. That kind of control over his season next year is just a footnote, but it is an attractive piece of the pie.
Any team in the latter half of the Top 10, would be wise to consider Nylander. He would add some instant skill and speed to a prospect pool. It’s fair to say that Nylander’s ceiling is a top line winger, but regardless he appears to be on track to a top 6 forward.