Nylander ready to follow in brother’s footsteps

Christian Roatis2016 Draft Center, Features, OHL

Twenty-four months after his brother onstage as a first rounder at the 2014 NHL Draft, Alexander Nylander will have the opportunity to do the same in just under two weeks.

And he can’t wait.

“It’s going to be unbelievable,” Nylander said. “It’s going to be one of the best days of my life. I’m looking forward to it a lot.

“It’s going to be me. I’ll be a little bit nervous. I think since I went through it with him it’s going to be a little bit easier for him. It was good for me to go through it.

“Just sitting in the seats. It was nervous. The whole crowd got quiet. The first teams started calling out the names. It was nervous. At the same time, it’s a lot of fun. Just seeing him get drafted was a great moment for us.”

William Nylander was selected eighth overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2014 NHL Draft.

Now, the younger Nylander has earned his chance.

The youngest son of former NHLer Michael Nylander finished an impressive rookie campaign in the Ontario Hockey League, leading his Mississauga Steelheads team in scoring with 28 goals and 75 points in 57 games — 14 points more than the second place scorer.

As an import rookie, no less.

“I thought it was a great idea for me to come over here to the OHL from Sweden,” Nylander said. “Since I came over, I’ve learned a lot of new things, improved on a lot of stuff. It’s been really good.”

Nylander’s dominance and offensive leadership extended to the playoffs where he tallied 12 points in six games.

Having watched Nylander all year, Future Considerations scout Scott Wheeler knows all about the skill and pure offensive prowess he oozes.

“Few players in the 2016 class are as elusive with the puck as Nylander,” said Wheeler. “His ability to stickhandle and weave in traffic are matched by arguably the most accurate shot in the class. His ability to pick his spots and cleanly beat a goalie should translate well at the NHL level and his fluid skating will help him become a top-six winger who can score and create plays as an adept passer.”

Nylander’s OHL season comes via loan from his SHL team, Rogle, meaning he isn’t binded by the NHL/CHL agreement. This would allow Nylander to be assigned to the American Hockey League, which may be the best place for him to work on his one primary weakness.

“If he can add some strength, as his older brother William did in his post-draft offseason, Alex has the ability to be a high-end offensive threat at the next level,” Wheeler said.

An already elite offensive talent, some strength and conditioning along with continued work on defensive structure and commitment to systems could amalgamate into Nylander fast-tracking his way to the bright lights of the NHL.

Just like his brother is trying to do.