William Nylander THW Close-Up:
Date of birth: 5/1/1996
Place of birth: Calgary, AL, CAN
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 181 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2014
THW The Next Ones Rankings (January 2014): 9
THW War Room Rankings (April): 9
Craig Button: 13
William Nylander is very much like his father Michael who spent 15 years in the NHL. Like his father, William makes up for his lack of size with his above average hockey sense, hands, and skill.
A cerebral player, Nylander (despite his age and height) has been playing in the Swedish Elite League among men much larger and more experienced. Still, he’s been able to hold his own quite well showing that his hockey sense and IQ are far superior than many of his peers.
Having grown up in North America, he’s already used to size of the ice and how to play the game at the NHL level. There is little room to make mistakes on the smaller ice surface, so Nylander uses his puckhandling and deking to get around defenders and open lanes for crisp passes to his teammates.
Brandon Fortunato of the NTDP had this to say about Nylander: “He is so smart and creative, and no matter where he is on the ice he is always a threat. He also makes other players around him better.”
Where Will He End Up In June:
William Nylander is a good bet to go in the top seven picks in the draft. He may be top five, but he may also drop out of the top 10.
“When it comes to pure offensive skill, I think that William Nylander is the best Swedish prospect since Nicklas Backstrom. He’s got that Patrick Kane kind of skill set that people will pay money to see. In a sense, he’s a chip of the old bloke. Just like Michael Nylander, William can be a really good playmaker. At the same time, he’s better at finishing plays by himself than his father ever was.In my opinion, Nylander’s upside is enormous. If things pan out, he could probably be a producing star in the NHL. But if that’s ever going to be the case, he needs to adjust a few things in his game. For starters, he needs to be better at utilizing his linemates. Sometimes, he tends to spend too much time with the puck by himself. That has led to some costly turnovers. His size is another obstacle he needs to overcome. It’s not that he’s weak, rather that he’s a bit light in the corners. He’s going to have to bulk up.Just like with other talented kids in his age group, his defensive game will need to get better. When you have the offensive ability that he has at a young age, you spend a lot of time with the puck when you’re playing against kids your own age. William has been dominant at every level up until he started playing against men. Now he has to adjust to the new reality by backchecking harder and take more defensive responsibility. He’s probably never going to be a Selke Trophy finalist, but that doesn’t mean he’ll turn into a liability as long as he takes necessary precautions.”
“Nylander is an extremely skilled, dynamic player who has quick hands and feet that make him dangerous offensively. He has great top-end speed, a strong burst and elite vision. He can distribute the puck like few other his age. An intelligent player, he out-thinks opponents regularly. (August 2013)”
Aaron Vickers – Future Considerations
“There are very few father/son duos who can say they’ve had the opportunity to play professional hockey on the same team; yet alone when that son happens to be only 17-years-old. Rarity aside, that’s exactly the situation that William Nylander finds himself in this season playing alongside his father, former NHL’er, Michael. Checking in at 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, Nylander’s agility and fluid skating makes him a puck wizard and a player capable of making things happen at top speed. He still needs some time to transition to the pro game to learn that he won’t have as much time as he once did, but Nylander’s offensive upside will be worth waiting for.“
“Small lightweight centre who upper level skills will see him being selected fairly early. He may never have a physical side, but he makes up for it with a other aspects that push him close elite level on the offensive end. Possesses top end gears, and lateral agility. Has great hands and could stickhandle in a phone book. Is both a good shooter and passer. Displays a quick release and pin-point passing accuracy. Son of former NHLer Michael Nylander. He was selected to the roster for the World Junior Under-18 Tournament in April, 2013.“
Bill Placzek – Draftsite.com
Nylander has played for Tre Kronor nine separate times. He’s helped Team Sweden win two gold medals.
Risk: 2/5 Reward: 4.5/5
Dynamic top-six playmaker that could be very dangerous on the powerplay
Stickhandling in tight spaces
Creativity beyond his years
Can change direction on a dime
Acceleration and breakaway speed
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
Needs to get stronger
Getting too fancy with the puck
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive: 8.5/10 Defensive: 3/10
NHL Player Comparison:
– NHL comparison: Jeff Skinner
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Follow Shawn on Twitter: @ShawnTHW