Wheat Kings Select Oliver Kylington In Import Draft

Just three days after he’s joined the organization, even more intrigue has formed around Oliver Kylington after the Canadian Hockey League’s Import Draft. The Calgary Flames 60th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has, coincidentally, been chosen by the Brandon Wheat Kings with the 60th overall selection in the 2015 CHL Import Draft.

Some context after the jump!

First, Kylington’s selection comes just a day after Farjestads BK president of hockey operations (and Flames alumnus) Hakan Loob chatted with our pal Pat Steinberg on Sportsnet 960 The Fan, and recommended that the Flames ink Kylington to a deal and bring him over to North America swiftly. (Click that link and listen, it’s a great chat.) Loob had Kylington in Farjestads and knows a lot about him.

Second, my understanding is that every player of a certain age in an IIHF-affiliated league is eligible to be chosen, so it’s not like Kylington threw his hat in the ring in an effort to escape Europe. But teams also don’t take picks unless they think they might need them, and Calgary and the Wheat Kings have a lengthy relationship (and hockey is a small, small world). Heck, Morgan Klimchuk was there last season and Kelly McCrimmon has a great reputation as a developer of players, and it’s not like they don’t have a history or a certain level of trust.

Every CHL team gets two import slots. Brandon’s imports last season were recent Flyers pick Ivan Provorov and forward Rihards Bukarts. Of note is that Bukarts is a 1995 birthday, meaning next season he’ll take up both Brandon’s import and overage spots next season, if he’s around. Most likely, from the Brandon side, it’s the Wheat Kings hedging their bets a bit; either (or both) of Provorov or Bukarts could go pro, so they likely want to have another import waiting in the wings. Or, like what happened when the Hitmen wanted to open up an import slot for Pavel Karnaukhov last season, one of those two players could be traded to a different team.

In terms of whether Kylington could go to the American Hockey League directly, the answer is yes. He wasn’t chosen from a Canadian Hockey League team, nor was he already chosen by a CHL team in last year’s import draft, so he’s not subject to the CHL transfer agreement. If he signs a pro deal, he could come over and play in Stockton (or ECHL Adirondack). In terms of development, I’m not sure what would be better for him: challenging him with tough competition in the AHL for a year, or giving him a season in the WHL to get used to the smaller ice and potentially dominate because he’s used to playing against grown men by now.

I’m reasonably sure we haven’t heard the last of this story. As of right now, there’s a possibility that Kylington could be with Stockton, Brandon or AIK next season.

  • everton fc

    He should go to Stockton. He’s already got pro-experience in Sweden. They could assess his “head”. Work on his character. And so on.

    That said, a year in the “W” can’t hurt. Getting him playing on North American ice next season would be ideal.

  • CofRed4Life

    I’m okay with the AHL or the WHL. As long as he’s on North American ice getting used to North American rules and style of play, it’s a win. Europeans need to be acclimated.

  • RedMan

    i see merit to letting him start in the W – can learn the nuances of the ice size/angles and rule differences without getting his block knocked off, then next year go pro in the AHL. I think this is the better route.

  • beloch

    Hakan Loob spoke with fan960 about Kylington the other day. The Cliff’s notes version is here.

    Loob is president of hockey operations for Färjestad, which is one of the teams Kylington played for last year. He’s spent a fair bit of time talking to Kylington including several hour long car-rides. He says the kid has a great personality, so calm your fears on that score. He also says the kid pressed very hard for minutes, and he was willing to go down a league last season to get them. So, the kid is driven. That’s good.

    As for his assessment of Kylington’s talent. Elite speed. Great shot. Great passing ability. Offensively, he’s ready to play with men in the SEL. His defensive game, in particular his positioning, needs work. That’s why he wasn’t being relied on to play first pairing minutes with Färjestad.

    Kylington was the first 16-year old to score a goal in the SHL. He put up 6 points in 32 games in his first season with Färjestad. In his 17 year old season he put up 5 points in 18 games before going down a league. If these numbers don’t sound impressive, remember that the SHL is almost as tough as the KHL. It is a league for men.

    Loob said that, without a doubt, Kylington will make it in the NHL. It will take a few years and he has to learn the defensive side of the game, but he’s got a good attitude, good compete level, and elite tools to work with. Loob specifically said Kylington is ready for the AHL. That makes sense, because the AHL is thought to be an easier league than the SHL.

    In light of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kylington starts next season in Stockton. He will undoubtedly be in town for the prospect camp and we’ll know more after that, but right now it looks like heading to junior may not be the best move for him.

  • beloch

    Hakan Loob spoke with fan960 about Kylington the other day. The Cliff’s notes version is here.

    Loob is president of hockey operations for Färjestad, which is one of the teams Kylington played for last year. He’s spent a fair bit of time talking to Kylington including a four hour car-ride. He says the kid has a great personality, so calm your fears on that score. He also says the kid pressed very hard for minutes, and he was willing to go down a league last season to get them. So, the kid is driven. That’s good.

    As for his assessment of Kylington’s talent. Elite speed. Great shot. Great passing ability. Offensively, he’s ready to play with men in the SEL. His defensive game, in particular his positioning, needs work. That’s why he wasn’t being relied on to play first pairing minutes with Färjestad.

    Kylington was the first 16-year old to score a goal in the SHL. He put up 6 points in 32 games in his first season with Färjestad. In his 17 year old season he put up 5 points in 18 games before going down a league. If these numbers don’t sound impressive, remember that the SHL is almost as tough as the KHL. It is a league for men.

    Loob said that, without a doubt, Kylington will make it in the NHL. It will take a few years and he has to learn the defensive side of the game, but he’s got a good attitude, good compete level, and elite tools to work with. Loob specifically said Kylington is ready for the AHL. That makes sense, because the AHL is thought to be an easier league than the SHL.

    In light of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kylington starts next season in Stockton. He will undoubtedly be in town for the prospect camp and we’ll know more after that, but right now it looks like heading to junior may not be the best move for him.

  • beloch

    Based on what Looby is saying, either the A or the Dub would be good for Kylington. But I lean more towards the Wheat Kings, under the notion of applying a slight brake to his development, especially when you factor the ocean jump. Unless he shows right away that he’s simply far and away too good for that league, I would keep him there, where he would get ample minutes and playing time. In Stockton, he’d be buried behind more veteran defensemen.

  • KiLLKiND

    Sending him to Stockton next year is a risky move. This kid is only 18 and based on feedback has defensive liabilities that could overwhelm him in the AHL. Agree with those that suggest he play in Brandon to learn the North American game.

    Let’s be smart and patient with this kid…he needs stability and Brandon has good coaching. Also close enough too Calgary for frequent counselling from Ronny Sutter etc!

  • KiLLKiND

    Ryan Kennedy @THNRyanKennedy
    According to Oliver Kylington’s reps, it is unlikely he will come over to WHL Brandon – has two-year contract with AIK back home. #Flames

    hmm… I’m guessing he doesn’t want to go to Brandon cuz he’s actually getting paid in Sweden at least. So for him it’s either AIK or Stockton if we sign him. After hearing the interview from Hakan Loob, I think it would be best for the flames to have him play in Stockton as we can directly groom him and watch over his progress compared to him being over in Sweden.

  • everton fc

    After reading all this… If he’s staying in Sweden, he’s not going to the Dub. So offer him a chance at ice time in North America. Better place to learn the trade.

  • everton fc

    With the solid Brandon management, I would suspect they would not have wasted an import pick on young Mr. Kylington unless they were pretty well assured he would show.

    Solid!

    Look forward to seeing this kid first hand at the ‘Dome!

    Along the same lines, when is the Flames development camp? It usually ties in with Stampede. May have missed it, but does anyone here know? Still at Winsport?

  • KiLLKiND

    If he does agree to play in the W what would the rules be on his eligibilty to play in the AHL the year after? If he would be ineligible to play in the AHL the following year I don’t think it would be a good option as he could learn he to play effectively in either the ECHL or AHL without any hassle.

    This could be an ideal time to test out the Adirondak’s potential for devolpment Calgary could directly control the best way for him to learn the game against players slightly above WHL level so he would be used to the level and could learn the ins and outs of N.A. hockey with a potential to call him up to the AHL if he plays good enough.