Get to Know: Alexander Nylander
Date of Birth: March 2nd, 1998 (18)
Place of Birth: Calgary, Alberta
Ht: 6′-0″ Wt: 179 lbs
Team (League): Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
What Scouts See
A playmaker first, Nylander can make the opposition defense look like a bunch of peewee players. With an NHL-ready shot, Nylander lights the lamp anytime he wants to. He consistently added something to his game with each viewing, improving his defensive game in the process. He will need to add to his frame, but his elusive ability and separation speed make him a force at this level.
Reed Duthie, Play by Play voice of the Hamilton Bulldogs:
Electrifying talent, Nylander was a rookie to the OHL but had plied his craft in the Swedish professional ranks before joining Mississauga. Nylander can make plays and skate with the very best, never has to chase the game as it always seems to come to him. Perhaps even more then Tkachuk, can change the course of a shift, period or game with the puck on his stick. Fair bit of work to do when it comes to consistency and defensive effort however.
What BSN Avalanche sees
Nylander has a whole host of offensive tools, but there were two aspects of his game that really stood out to me. First, he’s always moving without the puck, opening himself up to his teammates and creating opportunities before he even gets possession. People who stand still are easy to defend, so this alone makes him a dangerous player. Add in his great hands and heavy shot, and he’s difficult to contain. The other thing is his playmaking and passing ability. He’s able to thread passes very few players at that age can see, let alone make. On offense and transition, he’s a joy to watch and should make some team quite happy.
He’s still figuring out the defensive side of the ice. As a winger, it’s not critical, but if he wants to be effective and trusted at the next level, it’s something he’ll have to work on. Nylander also doesn’t use his size as much as he could. His linemates do, so it doesn’t hold his team back, but it definitely removes an element that would have made him a more well-rounded forward.
Opening is various interviews/news segments on Nylander. Highlights start at 6:35.
There’s not much doubt that Nylander has the potential to be an offensive top six winger in the NHL. The tools – including his vision, hands, shot, and elusiveness – are all there and should entice every NHL scout.
However, his defense and trouble fending off players still have a ways to go. Also of concern is the fact that 20 of his 47 assists were secondary on a stacked Steelheads team, and 29% of his offense came against the four worst clubs in the 20-team league. Yet it should be noted that he was a rookie in the OHL this year, so part of these issues could easily be the fact he’s a lanky teenager still learning the North American game.
In short, Nylander is a fairly classic example of a top six or bust pick. If he rounds out his overall game or his offense translates like a dream, he has a long and productive NHL career ahead of him. However, if he’s more a product of his linemates and his defense doesn’t improve, he won’t last long in the bigs. His bust chances are low, but they do exist, which could push him down closer to the middle of the first round.
Expected Draft Position
Most draft rankings have him in the #6-12 Overall range. He’ll likely be gone by the tenth pick, but he is a player with some potential to drop.
How Prospect Fits in Avalanche Organization
Even with the positive steps shown by Mikko Rantanen, AJ Greer, and JC Beaudin this year, the Avs are still shallow at the forward position. That statement is particularly true when it comes to offensive powerhouses, so there’s no question they could use someone like Nylander next to MacKinnon or Duchene in the next few years.
However, his 6′-0″ size and defensive question marks does make him a bit more of a rickety fit under the current regime’s mentality, so his selection by the Avs would raise an eyebrow or two. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), he’ll likely be off the board by the time Sakic reaches the podium.