Second City Hockey’s 2020-21 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2020. The rankings are determined by a composite score from three SCH writers and community member, L_B_R. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. All four ballots will be released after the series is completed.
The narrative surrounding Nylander is one of the most well-documented in the entire Blackhawks organization. The talent is evident, with Nylander being a top-ten pick in the NHL draft just four years ago. There’s plenty of family hockey lineage, with his father, Michael, enjoying a lengthy career and his brother, William, emerging as one of the league’s top offensive stars in Toronto. Yet Alex Nylander remains as much of a mystery entering the 2020-21 season as he did at the start of the ‘19-20 season.
He did score 10 goals in the regular season, with a few showcasing his impressive hockey ability:
But those moments weren’t consistent occurrences, and there remains plenty to be desired of Nylander’s ability to play in all three zones.
The postseason was even worse for Nylander, who didn’t register a single point in his eight games and he was a healthy scratch for Game 5 against the Golden Knights, which remains the last game the Blackhawks have played. Even the most optimistic conclusions on Nylander after a sporadic regular season were thwarted by his ghostlike appearance in the postseason.
Nylander enters the final year of his entry-level deal this season and remains under team control as a restricted free agent once the season ends. He figures to get another long look in the upcoming season, as Nylander could become a fixture in Chicago’s top-six if he ever realizes his full NHL potential. But that’s been the hypothetical hovering over Nylander for several years now. And, at some point, he needs to turn those questions into answers or the opportunities that he’s been afforded in the past may wither away in the upcoming months.