It didn’t take long after the Buffalo Sabres made him the eighth overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft for Alexander Nylander to talk about what he can bring to the team.
And he wants to bring it next season.
Despite stating that he has to work on his overall strength and get bigger, Nylander said his goal was to make the roster next year. The thought of playing alongside Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart had Nylander smiling from ear to ear throughout his introductory conference with the media. He even referred to the young core Buffalo has as “phenomenal”.
“It’ll be fun playing with them,” Nylander said.
The Calgary-born Swede said that he had an idea he could become a member of the Sabres based on pre-draft visits and conversations, but he didn’t really think about where he could go until it actually happened.
When the packed house inside First Niagara Center erupted as General Manager Tim Murray proclaimed “Buffalo selects Alexander Nylander”, it finally hit the 18-year old.
“It was an unbelievable moment,” Nylander said. “The best moment of my life, a big dream come true.”
Nylander tallied 75 points in 57 games for Mississauga of the OHL last season, won both the OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year Awards after coming over to play for the team where his dad, former NHL forward Michael Nylander, is an assistant.
As far as what he brings to the team, Nylander didn’t hold back regarding his ability.
“I’m a playmaker who’s a game breaker,” he said. “I play with hockey sense with good vision and I’m able to make plays offensively.”
[RELATED: 2016 NHL Draft Tracker]
The younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander, Alexander was selected at the same spot — eighth overall — as his brother was in 2014.
Speaking of his brother, Alexander Nylander spoke about what the idea of playing against his brother, who he says is a better trash talker while he has the better hair, in a divisional rivalry.
“We’ll be friends,” he said. “We’re really close to each other, and we’ll enjoy every moment playing against each other.”
Sabres fans will get their first chance to see Nylander on the ice in July when the team hosts it’s prospects development camp.
Though his goal is to make the NHL this year, he is eligible to play in the AHL due to being on loan from Sweden to the OHL as opposed to ever being drafted by the league. Because of that, the youngest Nylander in the NHL is likely to be in Rochester if he doesn’t make the Sabres out of training camp.
Michael is a former Managing Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s covered the Buffalo Sabres, along with the NHL in general, for various outlets since 2009. His work has been featured on outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.