Alex Nylander may be heading to the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans as soon as the 2016-17 season, according to a report by OHLInsiders on Tuesday.
Hearing Mississauga #Steelheads FWD Alex Nylander will go to Rochester AHL on a loan type deal similar to what Dallas did with Julius Honka
— OHLInsiders(.com) (@OHLinsiders) August 22, 2016
Nylander, 18, was selected by the Buffalo Sabres 8th overall at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and could be headed to the AHL as part of a loophole in a rule that typically requires a player to wait until their age 20 seasons to become an AHL player.
Nylander played last season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads, but was on loan the entire season and is considered a European player, not a major junior player, which makes him eligible for the AHL now.
The move is not completely unheard of, as the Dallas Stars sent 18-year-old Julius Honka to the AHL’s Texas Stars shortly after drafting him in the first round of the 2014 draft. Honka had been loaned to the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos the season before.
Nylander is a top prospect for the Sabres but is considered a long shot to be a top-six player for the club because of the team’s depth at wing. Given Nylander’s unique situation, the Sabres have some options. Rather than receive limited playing time at the NHL level, the Sabres could decide to return Nylander to Europe or send him to the AHL to begin adapting to the North American pro game. At this point in his career, and with the AHL loophole available, it seems unlikely that Nylander will play in the OHL again.