Second City Hockey’s 2019-20 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2019. The rankings are determined by a composite score from six SCH writers and more than 70 readers. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. The six SCH writers will make their ballots public after the series is completed.
Alexander Nylander hails from a successful hockey family. His father, Michael, compiled 679 points in 920 NHL games with seven different franchises, including four seasons with Chicago. Alex’s brother, William, was drafted eighth overall in 2014 by the Maple Leafs, has 162 points in 239 games and is one of their key offensive contributors.
Although Alex has his fair share of accolades: winning Ontario Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year, being drafted eighth overall by the Sabres in 2016 and leading the 2017 World Junior Championship in points while playing for Sweden; he has yet to put it all together at the NHL level.
During his three seasons in Buffalo, he was criticized for the lack of a consistent compete level and inner drive. He was also consistently hampered with injuries, which played a role in him only skating in 19 NHL games. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman saw an opportunity to acquire a winger with loads of untapped potential and took it. The trade cost a hefty price in top defenseman prospect Henri Jokiharju, but Bowman believes the change in scenery will do wonders for Alex.
In Alex’s youth hockey career, he played for the Chicago Mission, a AAA travel hockey club that has produced NHL talent like Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman and Dustin Byfuglien. With the Mission, Alex developed under the club’s hockey director Anders Sorensen, who is an assistant coach and former development coach for the Rockford IceHogs. With Alex back in Chicago and likely playing once again for Sorensen, the future looks brighter than it did in Buffalo.
Nylander wins the puck, gets it to Mitchell and he sets up From pic.twitter.com/c2ym6VS3x9— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) July 19, 2019
Alex has the powerful shot:
SNIPE SHOW!#Sabres prospect Alex Nylander (@snipeshow98) scores for Sweden . #WJCinBUF pic.twitter.com/glwhCcewk3— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 28, 2017
He can dangle:
Alexander Nylander steals the puck and buries the first goal of the #WorldJuniors. @CanadianTire #BIGPLAY https://t.co/JLvAqiiB49 pic.twitter.com/bXnLo6n0UQ— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 26, 2016
Alexander Nylander's highlight-reel goal in game 4 vs Barrie in the OHL playoffs the other night...Posted by HockeyWebCast on Saturday, April 2, 2016
And he has the size at 6-foot-1 to be a premier scoring threat on the wing.
Now it will be up to the Blackhawks coaching and development staff to finally package together all that talent and potential into a consistent offensive weapon at the NHL level.
Nylander will be battling for a NHL roster spot against a host of players. If he ends up in Rockford, Nylander will be a prime candidate to be called up if there is an injury to one of the forwards or head coach Jeremy Colliton is looking to shake things up in the bottom six.
Nylander’s developmental curve is taking longer than most expected. However, former top-10 draft pick Dylan Strome offers hope that a change in scenery and a new coaching staff, especially one with a familiar face in Sorensen, could be what’s needed to unleash Nylander’s substantial talent and potential.
Is Alex Nylander ranked too low, just right or too high?
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