We move on to another player who again, in all likelihood, won't be available when the Rangers are selecting. But things happen. A trade of some sort for cap relief seems inevitable at this point. Hey, did you hear that Rick Nash report from Bob McKenzie?
Today's profile features a player whom I have admittedly not seen nearly as much of as I have seen Sprong, but who is similarly intriguing. He's the first of many defensemen who will be profiled, and is a player who is somewhat controversial within the scouting community, as you'll see.
Oliver Kylington, AIK IF (Allsvenskan)
Position: Left Defense
Age: 18 Years Old
Height/Weight: 6'0, 180 lbs
- Farjestad (SHL): 18 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 4 PIM, -2 +/-
- AIK IF (Allsvenskan): 17 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 6 PIM, -2 +/-
NHL Central Scouting: 6th (EU Skaters)
Craig Button (TSN): 47th
Corey Pronman (ESPN): 15th
Future Considerations: 28th
Bob McKenzie (TSN): 24th
At the end of last season, Oliver Kylington was seen as a surefire top-10 pick for the 2015 draft and potentially even as high as third overall; behind McDavid and Eichel. Unfortunately, this season did not go as planned for Kylington. He struggled out of the gate with Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League, and so they loaned him to AIK of the second division. In preparation for the World Junior Championships, Kylington got hurt and missed the tournament. His play improved in the second half of the season, but not enough so that he could save his draft stock from falling.
Kylington is an offensive defenseman in every way. From his own end, he always has his head up and is looking for the right play to advance the puck up the ice. He's very good at sending quick, confident outlet passes.
Sometimes, he'll decide to carry the puck himself and split the defense.
Once in the offensive zone, he is an incredibly useful player. He has tremendous vision and is calm with the puck on his stick. Thus, he's good for some fantastic setup passes; particularly on the power play. He likes to move around the offensive zone and will even push into the slot for scoring chances.
Kylington doesn't possess a particularly strong shot, but he's very good at creating shooting lanes for himself and putting the puck on net.
What Kylington needs to work on is finding that balance between confidence and recklessness when it comes to his offensive efforts. Sometimes he's too casual on the puck and it leads to unnecessary turnovers. He also can be somewhat trigger happy in moving up the ice, and that can lead to opposition odd-man rushes the other way if and when something goes wrong.
His defensive game needs some work as well. He's very good at closing in on loose pucks and not letting free zone entries. He uses his stick well to prevent being beat one-on-one. However, despite a solid frame, he's a bit too complacent in letting bodies get past him and into dangerous areas around the net. I'm far from one of those people who demands big hits and supreme displays of physicality, but a bit of sandpaper in general and physical initiative in the slot would do him well.
I'm a fan of Kylington because I think his assets are hard to come by and his weaknesses are relatively easy to address. Better slot protection and some edge to his game defensively can be addressed with natural growth and good coaching. Improved decision making when it comes to the right times to pinch and when to get rid of the puck can be solved just through experience and trial and error. What makes Kylington a worthwhile prospect is his ability to make plays with the puck on his stick, his general hockey IQ, and his elite skating ability. Those are qualities that, while they can be improved, can only be done so to a limited extent. Though they are different players, Kylington and pre-draft Brady Skjei had some very similar qualities. Like Kylington, Skjei was a fantastic skater who thought the game very well but was criticized for not using his body enough on the defensive side. A few years later and now his ability to muscle forwards off of the puck is one of the strengths to his game.
I understand why Kylington's stock has dropped - especially in a draft as talented as this one - but I think discussions of him dropping out of the first round are silly; not that the Rangers mind. We've seen the likes of Adam Larsson, Filip Forsberg, and William Nylander all enter their draft year as top-five talents only to have an inconsistent season in Sweden against men, thus falling. Those three have been just fine, and I suspect Kylington will as well.
As for the Rangers, it's again an unlikely pickup. However, Kylington appears to be more likely to fall into their lap than Sprong. It seems entirely plausible that Kylington drops into the second round, and then depending on trades he could be there for the taking. The Rangers badly need to add an offensive defenseman to the mix, and Kylington would fit the bill. Here's a scouting report from Alex Nunn, who followed Kylington closely over the last season.
"A smooth-skating, stick-handling offensive defenseman, Kylington possesses elite upside. He has soft hands, quick feet and a mind capable of keeping up with both. The 6-foot Swede is a tremendous puck-mover; smart, patient, decisive. Elite skating allows Kylington to transition play from A to B by manoeuvring through traffic with the puck on his stick. His outlet pass is excellent, too, and he distributes up-ice with authority.
Kylington’s bread and butter is, and always will be, the powerplay. He keeps his feet moving to find open ice, presenting teammates with a constant target. His shot is strong and he has the passing skill to split the tightest gap.
As with any offense-first blueliner, there are shortcomings in his defensive game that need ironing out though. Kylington does get caught out of position at times and, due to his attacking mindset, he can hold the puck a little too long on occasion. Not a physical player, but shifty, smart skating tends to get him out of board battles.
Kylington has the tools to be an excellent offensive defenseman in the NHL. There are things to work on in terms of his d-zone play, but his offensive upside is on par with most blueliners in this draft class."