Flames First Round Targets 2015: Oliver Kylington

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Hakan Nordstrom/TT via thehockeyhouse.net

Every season, as I watch the junior hockey season play out all over the world, there are one or two prospects who really jump off the page at me and become my “favourites.” Since before people were even talking about the 2015 NHL Draft, Oliver Kylington was one of those favourites.

He made the jump to the SHL – Sweden’s equivalent to the NHL – at just 16 years of age, a feat unheard of for a defenseman and played a regular shift. He was a dynamic offensive specimen from the back-end and was great fun to watch. He really did look like the second coming of Erik Karlsson.

Coming into this season, he was regarded by many as a potential Top 5 pick in June, his incredible skating ability and elite offensive instincts from the blueline unique characteristics. Before Noah Hanifin, there was Oliver Kylington. He was supposed to be the consolation prize for missing out on McDavid and Eichel. 

However, once the season started, things began going south. The scrutiny on his game increased exponentially and soon “holes” were being discovered left and right. “His defence is shoddy”; “His positioning is wacky”; “He can’t stick on a roster, he must be a bad apple!” 

In fact, much – over exaggerated – ado was made about Kylington’s bouncing around from team to team this season (he played on 3 teams, 2 professional and one junior) and it probably contributed in some capacity to his military style free fall down the rankings. Everyone wondered why he couldn’t just stick somewhere like most players do and just play? Some conspired it to be an attitude issue, and that each team was simply passing its problem on to the next. 

Well I say that’s false. Why? Because he didn’t just play on 3 different teams, he played in three different leagues(!!). He played in the SuperElit, the Allsvenskan and the SHL. In North American terms, he played in the CHL, AHL and NHL all in the same season. It wasn’t exactly as natural a progression as it might seem either, as he had half a season of SHL hockey under his belt coming into the year (he went JuniorElit —> SHL —> Allsvenskan).

What that says to me, is that Kylington is simply at an awkward spot in his development, where he was too good for junior but not quite good enough for the SHL, so he ended up somewhere in the middle. What he brings to the table is still the same: elite skating ability, vision, hockey IQ, shot and passing, all in a good size frame at six-foot, 183 pounds. You can’t find that just anywhere, and it just so happens it’s exactly what the Flames could use. 

The problems with Kylington involve his awareness and effectiveness playing defence, but that comes from good coaching and development, something the Flames organization has put a major focus on. Let’s see what the scouts think.

Rankings

FutureConsiderations: 28
HockeyProspect: 13
NHL Central Scouting: 6 (among Euro skaters)
Craig Button: 47
ISS: Not in Top 30
Bob McKenzie: 24
Damien Cox: 29
McKeens Hockey: Not in Top 30
Corey Pronman: 15
The Hockey News: 20

One website specializing in mock drafts – mynhldraft.com – combined 7 of the most popular independent scouting rankings to formulate their, which they based their mock draft off of, listed Kylington’s amalgamated ranking at: 26

While there are large discrepancies between many of the rankings, a common denominator seems to emerge: Oliver Kylington is not a Top 10 prospect. That means he’ll probably be available for the Flames to take with the 15th overall pick. 

Having said that, if you trust Craig Button, Kylington might also be available at the 45th overall pick. 

It’s interesting to note he was inside the Top 10 of everyone’s ranking above coming into the season – like, literally everyone’s – and saw one of his most dramatic falls come at the hands of Craig Button who dropped him from 8th to 47th from January to now. Button, interestingly, also has highly regarded rearguard Noah Hanifin ranked 12th, with fellow American defenseman Zach Werenski ahead of him, but that’s a story for another day. 

Scouting Reports

From EliteProspects: “A smart two-way defenseman, who has tremendous feeling for the game and reads the plays well. Oliver Kylington is only average sized, but lets you forget the missing inches with his hockey sense, his strong vision and remarkable skating abilities. Owns a good shot from the blue-line and combined with this very good puck- and passing-skills, he can guide a power-play and the team’s offensive game to success.”

From NHL Central Scouting: “He’s a talented first-round prospect. He’s an excellent, smooth skater. He’s an offensive defenseman with excellent vision and playmaking skills. He has very good eye-to-hand coordination, is dangerous on the power play. He has all the tools needed and is a finesse-type player.”

From Craig Button: “Arguably one of the very best skaters in the draft, Oliver dances on his blades with equally high-end speed, quickness and agility and makes it look incredibly effortless. His confidence seemed to falter at times and affect his productivity but a turnaround in this could eventually see him, being one of the draft’s best defence men.”

From Uffe Bodin: “Smooth skating defenceman who is very efficient in transporting the puck up the ice. Very agile and athletic, but might be missing that extra hockey sense needed to become a force on the powerplay. Could become a good two-way defenceman in the NHL, maybe even a guy for a top four assignment.”

You’ll notice “power play” is included in 3 of the quotes, which makes sense because considering his skill set, that would be when he most excels. I find it interesting that some refer to him as a purely offensive talent while others like to sneak in “two-way defenseman” when describing him. You’d have to watch him on a consistent basis – which I have not – to really make that determination. 

One more quote I wanted to add in is from Kyle Woodlief, top dog at the Red Line Report: “Until recently, offensive Swedish defenseman Oliver Kylington was in the mix, but his horrid performance at this month’s Five Nations tournament in the Czech Republic scared the hell out of us, if we were a club picking in the five to eight range.”

The reason I wanted to add in this quote, is because Woodlief is not alone in plummeting Kylington’s stock because of his Five Nations tournament performance. There are many who reference that when denouncing Kylington as an elite talent, and the premise of it all makes little sense to me. The most basic rule of thumb when scouting a player is to not buy in too much on really hot or really cold stretches, but evaluate over an extended period of time. 

The fact that Kylington has one really bad tournament does not mean he’s a bad prospect. Having said that, to be considered an elite prospect nowadays, you need be nearly flawless, and a cold stretch can sink you if everyone else is on top of their game. 

The Numbers

The numbers seem to tell the story quite well in regards to Kylington. They say he’s too good for junior level hockey in Sweden, having scored 28 points in his last 31 SuperElit games, and they suggest he’s struggled in the SHL, especially this season, putting up a paltry 5 points in 18 games all while being a minus player. Reinforcement to our earlier hypothesis stating just that.

Having said that, he’s only put up a shade better numbers in the Allsvenskan – 7 points in 17 games while still a minus player – where we concluded he belongs at this point in time. So has he struggled in the Allsvenskan too, or did he simply sustain a stretch of bad luck?

There are no advanced stats available that can shed light on this topic, so without having watched him extensively, it’s impossible to answer that question (it will be answered in the Scandinavian leg of our NHL Draft Scout Series, however). 

So, going off the only information we have, in the form of counting stats, we can conclude that Oliver Kylington is an elite offensive defenseman in Swedish junior hockey, but isn’t the same scorer in the pro ranks. Be it he isn’t physically developed enough or just plain not good enough at this point in time, whoever drafts Oliver Kylington won’t be getting an NHL ready, first pairing 60 point scorer. 

What they will be getting though, is a prospect who has displayed all the tools to evolve into something exactly like that with the proper nurturing and development

Oliverik Kyilngsson

I mentioned Kylington reminded me much of Ottawa Senators star Erik Karlsson – who in 2008 was drafted in the same slot the Flames will occupy in June – and besides the similarities in the way the two play the game of ice hockey, their stats share striking similarities. Kylington graduated to the SHL a year early, but both him and Karlsson put up point-per-game averages in the SuperElit in their Draft -1 season, Kylington doing it over 21 games to Karlsson’s 10. Karlsson then played 38 games in the SuperElit in his draft year and posted 37 points, getting a cup of coffee in the SHL as well, registering a goal in 7 outings. 

In total, Kylington has played 67 pro hockey games in Sweden coming into his draft, compared to Karlsson’s 7. Make no mistake, it’s astronomically difficult to be a 16/17 year old defenseman who’s strength is offence in the SHL. Everyone is stronger, faster, and has more rounded game than you do. The fact Kylington has all of this professional experience coming into the draft – on top of his proven offensive excellence at the junior level – makes him a potentially more attractive prospect than Karlsson was in 2008.

The area where Karlsson has(/had?) a significant leg up on Kylington is international competition. Although Karlsson did not play for Sweden’s World Junior Hockey team in his draft year, he did play extensively for the U18 team at the various tournaments – Ivan Hlinka and 5 Nations included – and absolutely stormed the competition. In total, he had 14 points in 17 games with Sweden’s U18 team, 7 of those points coming in 6 games at the Under-18 World Hockey Championship. 

While Kylington did skate in 3 World Junior Championship games for Sweden – and was rendered pointless – his performances with the U-18 team left much to be desired. In some cases – the 5 Nations Cup specifically – he was atrocious. He had two assists in 5 games at the Under-18 World Hockey Championship and 5 points in 9 games with the U-18 team in total, but scouts never came away impressed. I personally didn’t watch him at these tournaments, but I’m willing to bet the issues arose inside his own blueline, with poor coverage and, at times decision making being his two largest vices wherever he plays. 

Conclusion 

My love for Oliver Kylington may seem irrational to some, but it needs to be taken in context. I love Oliver Kylington for the 15th overall pick. Getting the type of ceiling and raw ability he possess at this point in the draft is generally unheard of, which is exciting. 

I wouldn’t be quite as ecstatic about him if the Flames were picking Top 10, because then there would be a plethora of others to be ecstatic about. He’s a fantastic talent and I certainly believe he’s worthy of being a Top 15 pick, but there’s a glut of prospects in and around the 15-40 range that are pretty much indiscernible at this point – in a good way. 

They’re all excellent talents with high upside and scouts are having a tough time really nailing down a proper way to rank them, meaning there won’t be any obvious pick come June 26th, rather it’ll essentially come down to personal preference. We weren’t kidding you when we said this draft was deep. While I personally prefer Oliver Kylington to a lot of his peers, others don’t even have him in the first round. 

To me, the skill set and upside is far too high to pass on. This isn’t Jankowski-type upside either, the guy has put up a pile of points in his age group, and has already graduated to the highest levels of hockey in his country, without being able to go out to the bar to celebrate with is new teammates afterwards. Whatever concerns exist with Kylington, they’re superficial and completely amenable in my opinion, and definitely don’t warrant him slipping out of the Top 30. 

At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, I don’t think he gets passed the Los Angeles Kings at 13th overall. 

Flames First Round Targets 2015

Oliver Kylington

Timo Meier

  • FeyWest

    If he makes it to 15 I definitely would take a flyer on him, I’d still rather have Svechnikov if he’s there but in the event Kylington is there instead I would definitely think long and hard.

    I believe our scouts and mgmt have done long term scouting so I trust in their decision, Kylington could very well be the steal of the draft because he could be very dynamic in whichever team gets him.

  • piscera.infada

    Kylington is a very curious case, and one that really, really intrigues me. His skill-set sounds so good on paper that it’s almost something that dreams are made of at the fifteenth spot in a draft, yet I haven’t been able to verify much with my eyes. I find it interesting that these scouting services have him falling so much, as you would assume many of them are watching him, and therefore it gives me pause.

    I find there’s usually a defensive prospect in a draft who has “defensive positioning” or “careless with the puck” concerns, that turn out to be largely overblown at the next level (for example: Doughty [vs. Bogosian], Karlsson, Ekman-Larsson).

    I just don’t know with Kylington. I wouldn’t be upset if the Flames take him though.

  • FeyWest

    Everyone is fi full of opinions on a player that didn’t play much in his draft year and all of us amateur speculators have probably never seen play.

    I will defer to actual scouts no this guy. I presume that most or at least some of those who made their rankings have seen him a few times.

        • Christian Roatis

          Of course. Not live obviously, which is always the best and most percise way, but FASThockey offers quality streams of overseas hockey, including the major U18 tournaments. Didn’t see him at 5Nations where he apparently stunk, though.

      • OKG

        “Listen, I saw Mark play the last couple of years. You look at him now, when he fills out, he’s pushing 6-foot-4. Skill … hockey sense — that’s a great combination.

        “So we’re going to be patient with him. I don’t think anything has changed from when he was drafted.”

        Brad Treliving.

        Maybe you could do the same?

        • Christian Roatis

          What are you talking about, the didn’t see Jankowski for the first time until mid-way through his draft year when Weisbrod was caught in a snowstorm?

          But wow, some of you really don’t like Kylington.

          • SmellOfVictory

            Well, just based on the reports (I certainly haven’t been able to watch him, and it’s not like I have a scout’s eye anyway), it sounds like he’s got everything but the noggin. I don’t like players who apparently lack hockey sense, because that’s how you get frustrating low-end NHLers who, by all rights, should be awesome, but are continuously making poor decisions and frustrating the crap out of you as a fan (see: Bourque, Rene; Comeau, Blake).

          • RexLibris

            Kylington’s hockey sense was initially lauded. That reputation suffered this season, but as Christian noted, some of that could well be the result of his having played in three different leagues (which also means three different teams and three different coaches).

            That’d put any prospect in a difficult position.

            For what it’s worth, I just ran a mock draft going team-by-team and I think Kylington drops to 20th overall and is selected by……Detroit. Of course.

          • RexLibris

            Here’s my list (Calgary’s pick in bold):

            McDavid
            Eichel
            Hanifin
            Strome
            Marner
            Werenski
            Crouse
            Provorov
            Rantanen
            Zacha
            Zboril
            Barzal
            Meier
            Konecny
            Merkley
            Svechnikov
            White
            Connor
            Kylington
            Bittner
            Gurianov
            Carlo
            Samsonov
            DeBrusk
            Chabot
            Roy
            Harkins
            Eriksson
            Boeser
            Carlsson

            I’m probably going to be wrong on 80% of it, but after you get past #6 you’re really just throwing darts at the board because teams can get a little loopy in the middle of the pack.

          • Christian Roatis

            Good point on wonkiness of the draft, that’s why I find mock drafts that go past 30 are always comical. There’s nearly no way of possibly predicting it.

          • RexLibris

            It may also depend on how each kid does in the interviews.

            Going down the Hockey’s Future lists, there is bupkiss for good right wing talent. Maybe half a dozen guys rated highly (Detroit has two of them). Might be worth it to take Svetchnikov rather than a D as there have been a lot of good D coming out of the second round.

          • RexLibris

            This exercise is something I do with a couple of friends, so it is entirely for fun and an opportunity to say to the other “Wow, nice pick! How much had you drank when you filled out that list?”

            When I ballpark picks between 10 and 20 I usually look at a range of six or seven names because there is usually a tier of possible talents and, based on what we know now about the Canucks’ draft lists, teams can have some strange ideas about players.

          • mattyc

            I’m not particularly enamored with Merkley either, but I wouldn’t be disappointed with him as a pick. At the very least it would prove the organization is looking for the right qualities in a player.

  • Christian Roatis

    You seem to be quite an apologist for this prospect. The fact he has been demoted, has not performed well in big tournaments and dropped precipitously in most respected rankings means he has issues. If he is around at 45 fine but too risky at 15 given other available talent at the top of the draft.

    • Christian Roatis

      Like I said, he’s my guy. I’ve watched him and liked him before the 2014 Draft even took place. People love overreacting to things that JUST happened, but I believe in a long term approach to scouting. Kylington has been a great talent to my eye for a lot longer than a month.

      Sorry to sound harsh, but if the 2000 words above didn’t make it clear: I believe in the kid.

  • RexLibris

    Before writing about the Flames’ recommended picks I went back and watched as much game tape as I could find on a few of the prospects (not highlights, but clips of game play) and Kylington looked pretty good to my eye.

    Some of the criticisms coming his way were that he seemed lost in the defensive end, yet they failed to mention that he was playing his off side with a new partner.

    He’ll never be a typical shut-down defender, but if he can move the puck as efficiently in the NHL as he appears to overseas, then “shut-down” will be defined by he and his team having control of the puck more often than not.

    That’s a good kind of player to have.

      • RexLibris

        Ha, if I knew that I’d be calling Vegas right now.

        There are all sorts of names out there right now, but just like the Flames, with a large collection of players who fall in that tier, it depends on who is the best of the rest.

        Another wrinkle is how they run the board with it being their 2nd 1st round pick. Sometimes a team will take more of a gamble with extra picks in a round, when they should be treating every single pick as their first pick in the draft.

        Zboril, Roy, Meier, Harkins, Kylington, Konecny, Svechnikov, White, Merkley and Samosonov have all been mentioned, as well as several others.

        It is Bob Green’s first NHL draft so it will be very interesting to watch what happens. They need to stop with the “throw the local scout a bone” stuff though. It is killing them.

  • mattyc

    Definitely can’t say no to superstar potential, but I trust that if our scouts see that in him, they’re not passing him up. Which is fine.

    In the other scenario is that he has just 2nd pairing potential due to being 6’0 and not having the greatest compete level or hands or shot (all complaints against his game from Button’s TSN profile). Then you have to really consider that Chabot is a lot bigger, Roy is a right-handed shot with perhaps a more steady game.

    I also think some of the guys that are going to be there in the second round look like their potential is sky high. Was watching Matt Spencer shift-by-shift on youtube and his skating is smooth, he’s 6’2, right-hand shot, physical, good positioning (got caught a few times but eh, happens with all 17 year olds), good shot, and did I mention his skating?

    If you can get a potential top 4D like that in the 2nd, and you’re not seeing the superstar potential in Kylington, I think a forward is the better route.

    But if Kylington is the next Karlson like everyone things, then **** it, sign here on the dot Oliver and try and make the team by training camp 2016.

  • Christian Roatis

    Would be disappointed to see the Flames take Kylington at 15. If they want him, package a couple 2nds to get him later, or he may even fall. It’s suboptimal to take a guy way sooner than you have to.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Especially a guy who appears to have a decent bust potential. Although I don’t think he drops below the early/mid-20s, so he might not be as easy to get by packaging 2nds as we’d like.

  • RexLibris

    On the subject of Jankowski, he isn’t trending particularly well.

    His draft +3 year posted two more points in two fewer games.

    Draft +1 – 34gp 7-11-18
    Draft +2 – 39gp 13-12-25
    Draft +3 – 37gp 8-19-27

    I had pegged him as potentially cracking the NHL as a 3rd line winger and his progression to date would suggest that he may develop as a depth forward.

    That being said, we’ll have to see what happens when he turns pro and we can get some more eyes on him, as the NCAA numbers can be difficult to parse.

    • Burnward

      Just out of curiosity…did you watch any of the NCAA Frozen Four?

      He was damn good.

      Think he went 2g, 2a over the four games and also was like +7 or something.

      • SmellOfVictory

        He was good then, but in the bits of games I got to see him the rest of the time, he was pretty meh. He was good for college, but nothing particularly special. And he seems to be allergic to shooting the puck.

      • RexLibris

        I didn’t, but even then I am always cautious about tournament sample sizes.

        That’s when GMs and scouts can form dangerous ideas like “he’s a clutch player” or “he elevates his game when everything is on the line”.

        I’m still holding to my belief that if Jankowski makes it, the most reasonable line is as a depth center/winger at this stage.

        I could certainly be wrong, but consider that to make the Flames next season he’d have to beat out Hudler, Monahan, Gaudreau, Bennett, Ferland, Backlund, Granlund and Poirier, to name a few.

        Maybe he replaces Backlund in three years’ time? Who knows. But as a franchise center, which is more or less what Feaster billed him to be, I think that is a stretch for even his most ardent supporters.

        • Burnward

          I’ll take the kid who elevates his game when it matters.

          And he’s almost certainly not making the team next year…but there’s something there. I just think the kid’s getting a bad rap.

  • RexLibris

    The problem for me is that he is huge question mark. We have 1 first round pick and we need to get it right. He might be a good rick for either the Oilers and Coyotes as they have what amount to 3 first round picks as they draft rather early in the 2nd round.

  • Christian Roatis

    Thought I should note this here: Just editing the Swedish leg of the NHL Draft Scout Series and Kylington getting no love.

    Maybe I am indeed out to lunch?

    • RexLibris

      For me it comes down to the fact that the Flames need to draft the best defender available.

      If they can move up to get Werenski or Provorov, great. But if they have to stand pat at #15, then Kylington makes a lot of sense.

      I have them taking Merkley and then taking a defender in the 2nd and trading two 2nds for a high-end contract dump like Sharp, but that is all just fantasy hockey stuff right now.

      If we look at just the 1st round, there are all kinds of possibilities and the Kylington angle is a very fair one to argue.

    • SmellOfVictory

      You’re up against a lot of anti-Kylington inertia. He’s probably not as bad as some people are stating, but when someone falls as precipitously as he did, it’s bound to sour most people once his ranking bottoms out.

  • Jeremy

    Jeremy Roy is a gifted two-way defenceman that establishes his presence on the ice through playing authoritative hockey, with and without the puck. His absolute and total awareness of other players’ positions on the ice is a testament to his incredible knowledge of the game. Roy possesses the intangibles of maturity and character that can’t be taught, as well as the individual skill that turns heads every time he is on the ice. All-in-all, a highly intelligent defenceman that plays high-percentage hockey and is a catalyst for positive plays in all three zones. (Curtis Joe, EP 2014)

    When talking to scouts about Jeremy Roy, the name Duncan Keith often shows up in the same sentence; the offensive and defensive traits embodied by the Chicago Blackhawks star defenseman seem to be akin to what the young Roy aspires to. – [EP]

    That blurb was from Elite Prospects.

    This guy is #16 or so on almost all boards. RHD-Man is what I keep reading we need.

    Why are we talking about Oliver and not Jeremy

  • piscera.infada

    Just putting it out there was thinking rumours had Arizona really liking Strome and Toronto was maybe willing to trade the 4th overall pick for a 1st and second but it’d probably take more then that that’d be where Noah Haannif would be and he’d be a great pick up for our prospect pool wonder what it’d take to get that from Toronto just for thoughts

    • piscera.infada

      Start with Monahan/Bennett, add #15, add…

      Seriously, what would it have taken you to move your pick down to #15 the last two years? It ain’t happening.

      • supra steve

        “Seriously, what would it have taken you to move your pick down to #15 the last two years? It ain’t happening.” Yes, exactly correct.

        I think that Monahan or Bennett are enough to get serious discussions going on the #3 or #4 overall pick, don’t know if you would need to throw in that #15 pick, but yeah, you probably would. So basically, you are filling one hole in the dike but creating another 2 holes in doing so. Bad asset management. Now, is that a price the Flames are prepared to pay? Not bloody likely.

        Bear

        Those that are thinking that the #15 + Hudler or Wideman (or both) would get that deal done, are just delusional. Those guys both had strong years for the Flames in 2014-15, but you can’t change the numbers on their birth certificates (or their contracts), and believe it or not…other GMs will be checking that kind of detail.

  • Greg

    Sounds great, but these guys that plummet in the rankings during their draft year really scare me.

    Angelo Esposito was a guy we couldn’t believe was still available in the 20s, but now obviously wasn’t even worth a 1st round pick at all. Matt Pelech was another guy everyone said wouldn’t have been available where the flames drafted him except for an injury riddled season… again, not worth the 1st rounder in hindsight.

    I’m curious, can anyone think of cases where a highly touted prospect plummeted in the rankings during his draft year and yet still turned out to be a good 1st round pick?

  • mattyc

    If the flames stand pat at 15, I would like them to get a forward like Connor or Svenchikov and trade 2 2nd rounders, or a 2nd rounder and 1 of our prospects for a late first rounder around 21-25 so we can hopefully get kylington as well.

    • piscera.infada

      Can someone explain to me why people on this site are so in love with Kyle Connor? He’s basically every centre in our system not named Monahan and Bennett–that being middle rotation centre, left-shot, with some scoring ability. I think I’d understand it more if he were the no-brainer, can’t-miss prospect there, but he isn’t. There are right-wingers, right-shooting centres, and defensemen in the 15 range, and I honestly don’t see Connor being the cut-and-dry BPA there.

        • piscera.infada

          Connor is listed at C some places and LW in other places, and I’m not anti-Svechnikov at all. I’m just not sold on left-shots or left-wingers when there’s comparable skill in areas of need. I know, I know, “take BPA”, but everything I read about this draft lists a fairly sizable group of similarly talented players

          Granted, I haven’t seen Connor play, so I can’t comment on his skill or smarts versus Konecny or Merkley. I’ve seen the latter two a handful of times each, and I’ve come away very impressed each time. Just me though.