If you’ve been reading up on the brimming with potential Canadian-Swede Alex Nylander, you’ve probably pieced together that the Canadiens would likely have to trade up to get a realistic crack at the young playmaker. But, should he fall to 9th overall, there’d have to be one heck of an excuse from the management team to pass him up as many pundits are touting Nylander as one of the most talented players in the draft.
DOB: March 2, 1998 – Calgary, Alberta
Weight: 176 lbs
CSB: 3 (North American Skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 6
Future Considerations: 7
Hockey News: 8
Fresh off earning the OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year awards with the Mississauga Steelheads, former NHL’er Michael Nylander’s son is poised to make some noise at the 2016 draft. Lost in the hoopla of Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine is a potential star for a team who drafts, and nurtures, his abundance of talent.
Praised for his high offensive upside and broad vision on the ice, Nylander turned heads on all fronts in 2015-2016 – he had excellent showings at the World Junior Championships as well as the World Under-18 Championships while creating a buzz during his brief stint in the OHL playoffs. He has an excellent shot, is able to thread the needle under duress and is a very strong skater.
Make no mistake about it, this is a pure playmaker who plays a very specific talent and finesse oriented game.
And therein lies some of the knocks that have been surfacing about the young winger. He’s not a physical specimen that’s going to bruise his way to the front of the net and score goals in the blue paint. He’s 6’0, 176 lbs. He’s 18. There’s going to be some weight added to that frame, but even then, with a minimum of 20-25 lbs of weight and muscle added on, he’s never going to be laying people out. Like most skill players, he’s not going to go into the dirty areas to win pucks. There’s been criticism of him shrinking in physical games, which is generally what skill players do when it starts to bustle.
So, depending on what the team drafting him is looking for, he won’t fit the prototypical robust and hardened player with talent mold. Think more along the lines of a Nicklas Backstrom. If the Canadiens are in the market for a winger – which they have a fairly decent amount of in development, a few of which are right wingers picked early from the last few drafts – this is a no-brainer if he’s there at 9.
As mentioned, he weighs 176 lbs. He needs to bulk up and learn to play with a bigger frame in a bigger game. He is not NHL ready and should take the developmental route before cracking a lineup. A three-year arc to the NHL is a reasonable expectation. He’s not a man currently playing a boy’s game, it’s the other way around.