Just over two years ago, the world was given an opportunity to witness the exploits of 2014 NHL Draft stud William Nylander, who will find himself playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the next few years.
But now, it’s all about Alex Nylander. The 17-year-old is a very exciting young prospect to watch, continuously being one of the best players on the ice no matter where he plays. Like most Swedish prospects, Nylander has found himself moving around different teams among various different levels over the past few years, playing with the SDE HF J18 and Södertälje SK J18 programs in the past.
His campaign with SDE HF, a team based in Stockholm, Sweden was one of his most impressive efforts to date, putting up nine goals and 27 assists for 36 points back in 2013-2014. It was a very strong effort for a 15-year-old playing against 18-year-olds. He’d finish the season with Södertälje SK J18 that year, recording 22 points in just 17 games to finish off as one of the best U16 players in the competitive U18 Allsvenskan league.
Nylander would eventually see himself stay with just one organization for 2014-2015, signing with AIK, a club which features in the second Swedish league Allsvenskan. Nylander would get a three game stint with the men’s pro team, recording no points in a very limited role. He would instead spend most of his season as a 16-year-old in the league dominated by 19 and 20-year-olds, the SuperElit junior league in Sweden. In 42 games with the club, Nylander just missed out on the Point-Per-Game mark after putting up 15 goals and 40 points, good to finished tied with fellow 2016 NHL Draft prospect Jesper Bratt for first in AIK scoring. To top it all off, Nylander put up 13 points in just five games in the U18 league for AIK, proving that he was easily one of the best players in his own age group.
Perhaps Nylander’s biggest standout performance came at the 2014 Under-17 Hockey Challenge for the Swedish junior team. Noticeably one of the best players in the tournament behind American stars Max Jones and Clayton Keller, Nylander put up two goals and five assists in six games to help the Tre Kronor win the bronze medal. For Nylander, the Swedish offensive star was always involved in all the important plays and showed remarkable chemistry with William Fällström, another 2016 Draft prospect from Sweden.
Nylander is a tremendous skater, maybe even one of the best at his age. He’s always consistently moving very well on the ice, either blowing by a defenseman or keeping his balance when attacked with the puck. Nylander is able to find even some of the smallest openings on the ice when looking to make a pass, something that seems to be a trait among many Swedish prospects over the past few years. He’s very hard to predict when he picks up the puck, allowing him to end to end without a hitch in his step thanks to his body language that always suggests that he’s going to make you wait and find out what he’s going to do. Nylander does have a good shot, but usually elects to make a passing play instead which results in him racking up his assist totals. He simply has a ton of talent that allows him to make a “wow factor” goal, something that he was able to do at times thanks to the much larger ice surface back in Sweden.
After getting drafted by the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads in June (a year after the Steelheads selected William, who decided not to report), the younger Nylander will indeed make the trip over for his draft year. He was also drafted by the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, but the possibility of playing with some fellow draft stars seemed like a good idea for him. If he does, the Steelheads will have Nylander, Michael McLeod (2016), Nathan Bastian (2016) and Owen Tippett to build around offensively, with the likes of Sean Day and Austin Osmanski suiting up on defense. The Steelheads have had a few poor seasons in a row the last few years, and having William Nylander stay in Sweden to start the season clearly didn’t help them in 2014-2015.
With Alex in the fold, things will be a lot more fun for the tenants at the Hershey Centre.
Photo from Bildbyrån.