Current Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Date of Birth: March 2, 1998
Place of Birth: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Weight: 175 lbs
In case you're not familiar with the Hockey Nylanders, Alexander is the second son of former NHLer Michael Nylander to enter the NHL Draft. His older brother William was the #8 pick in 2014 to Toronto, and made his debut this season with some positive results (6/7/13 in 22 games for Toronto). In short, Nylander has the chromosomes and pedigree to be an NHL player.
With 28/47/75 in 57 games in the OHL this season after deciding to come over to North America prior to his draft year, Alexander looks to be cut from the same cloth as his slightly older brother (though William played in Sweden prior to being drafted, so there isn't a "numbers" comparison to be made). As his numbers show, he clearly didn't have any trouble making the adjustment.
Nylander, much like his older brother, can skate at a world-class level, and has the hands and stick creativity to be an offensive threat as he matures. I've seen multiple sources cite his skating as "explosive" and his offensive creativity has stuck out in various write-ups as well. He finished as the #3 North American skater in the final Central Scouting rankings, and slots in fourth behind the Big Three in the April ISS Top 30.
Nylander teamed with Mike McLeod and Nathan Bastian (ranked #13 and #35 respectively in Central Scouting's final NA list) in Mississauga to form one of the best lines in North American junior hockey this past season, so there is *some* question about whether or not his numbers are inflated by virtue of his linemates. That said, there's no denying his skating ability and offensive handle, and the fact that he did what he did in his first year of North American hockey is also a plus.
He'll need to get bigger and stronger, as do most kids his age, and will need to show he can get dirty a bit to have a long-term NHL future. That said, that's an area he's improved as he's adjusted to being in North America.
"Nylander has improved his willingness to battle for space. He has the puck skills and one on one ability to turn people inside out in the offensive zone."
--Dennis MacInnis, ISS Hockey Director of Scouting
A Good Fit in Columbus?
He could be, depending on where the Jackets end up selecting in the first round after the lottery dust settles. You never would turn down--for this club, especially--a chance to add world-class speed and offensive creativity. The rub, however, is whether or not Nylander is too "finesse" for this organization and team as currently constructed. Ideally, you'd rather the coach adapt his style to his players, but how many years have we seen that not happen here? In a vacuum, Nylander, while clearly a step below the Top Three, is a player with high upside, but also still very raw to North American hockey who needs to show he can do what he did without the amazing top line he played with in Mississauga.
Nylander in Action