2015 Development Camp: Oliver Kylington

Oliver Kylington may be one of the most fascinating players drafted by the Calgary Flames in years. Pronounced “Shillington” (because in Swedish the “Kyl” sequence becomes a “Sh” sound), the talented Swede was lauded by many as one of the top players in the 2015 Draft. He was ranked first among European skaters by Central Scouting in their midterm rankings, but an uneven year punctuated by changing teams resulted in him being ranked sixth on that list at year’s end.

He ended up going 60th overall to the Flames, when Calgary traded up from the third round to grab him. When the season began, many had him as a lock to be taken in the first half of the first round. Life’s funny that way sometimes.

For his part, Kylington seems focused on having the best season he can and putting the ups and downs of this year behind him.

“It was fun to be chosen by Calgary,” said Kylington. “Of course, the draft was very exciting and nerve-wracking, but now I’m here and I just need to focus on being better every way. I work hard on the ice and off ice. Now I’m not thinking about the draft that much, just looking forward to the season.”

To say Kylington played a lot of hockey in a lot of different places over the past 12 months would be a titanic understatement. He played on Sweden’s entry at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, spent time with Farjestads BK in the SuperElit junior league, the SHL and the Champions League, moved on to play with AIK of the secondary Swedish league, and then capped the year off with a run with Sweden’s team at the Under-18 World Championships. He played everywhere, but didn’t think it was a hurdle to his development.

“I don’t think I have a problem getting used to different systems,” said Kylington. “I’ve been playing on a lot of teams when I was young and I think it has been good for my developing. For me, it’s good, I think. I haven’t had any problem with that this season. I don’t have any problem with different systems or stuff like that.”

Perhaps the biggest question from Flames fans this summer has been regarding Kylington’s status for next season. He signed a contract with AIK earlier in the spring, but was also drafted by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Canadian Hockey League import draft.

“I have a [out] clause, but you never know,” shared Kylington, regarding his contractual status. “I don’t know if Calgary wants to sign me or anything like that. So I don’t know what’s up for this season. But right now, I just know that I have a contract with AIK and I’m going to play with them this year.”

The gist of the NHL/Sweden transfer agreement is this: you can only be under one contract at a time. So for the Flames to sign Kylington, AIK would have to release him from his commitment. If that happened, he would be eligible to play in the AHL with Stockton or in the WHL with Brandon. As of development camp, Kylington was preparing to begin next season with AIK. Another sign of that expectation is the absence of Kylington from Sweden’s junior team roster at the Lake Placid mini-tournament in early August – it conflicts with the beginning of AIK’s schedule.

“I had a talk with the Swedish national coach and he just wanted to try player out this year for the World Juniors, so I’m not worried about that,” said Kylington. “I think it’s good for me to start with AIK when that tournament with Sweden is.”

On a certain level, the lack of clarity about Kylington’s status next season probably is a source of frustration for all involved. Kylington’s obviously an incredibly talented player – even after being off-ice for two months, his skating at development camp was smooth as silk – but a full season in one spot just being able to play the game and grow without distractions would probably be just what the doctor ordered for his development.

There’s a pretty good chance that he’ll actually get that full season in one spot – broken up perhaps by a trip to Finland at Christmas for the World Juniors. But whether that trip is a break from his season in Stockton, Brandon or Stockholm is yet to be determined.

    • RexLibris

      Hey Christian,

      Saw your tweet about the Oilers signing Nemisz.

      I hope you didn’t injure yourself laughing too hard. 😉

      On the plus side, between he and Pitlick, medical staff should earn their Christmas bonuses easily this year.

      • Christian Roatis

        Well, I was more concerned they may reintroduce the Hall-Nemisz power duo more than anything 😉

        Also, what’s your twitter handle? I tried finding you with the RexLibris handle but came up empty.

        • RexLibris

          RexCodexLibris@CodexRex

          My real concern about Nemisz is how much ice time he takes away from Khaira, Moroz, Yakimov and Slepyshev. All are forwards they need to see big jumps from this season, and while putting in some competition is useful, blocking them with someone who has virtually no NHL future is not.

  • RexLibris

    If he’s signed and opts out of Sweden, I hope he goes to the AHL. Just like Hunter Smith’s sserious size advantage in junior will never give you a clear picture of what he truly is until he turns pro, the same applies to Kylington and his skating. It’s just too good for the junior level and he can rely on it too much to get by. He needs to be challenged to some degree for proper development and that means the minors.

    So here’s hoping both those guys play in Stockton this coming season.

  • OKG

    I prefer him in Sweden, the schedule there is much better for him to hit the weight room and get stronger. He’ll be getting first pairing development time at AIK too.

    Then get him over here after one season there, hopefully get wotherspoon, morrisson to graduate to the NHL here, and get him straight to the AHL.

    • Christian Roatis

      I agree. Any other player I would suggest another year in Sweden but I think Kylington would benefit way more jumping into Calgary’s system in the AHL right away.

      Start developing and training with the coaches in Stockton and learn Calgary’s game. I honestly think this kid is pretty close to making the jump.

      I think it would be awesome if the Flames could sign Oduya; he’s obviously quite a mentor to Kylington and it would be a great move by the Flames to bring him in to motivate him.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      Isn’t Loob also pretty high in the chain of command in terms of AIKs upper management? I’d imagine the Flames wouldn’t have much issue getting him over if all parties think it’s best and all have legitmate interest in it as well.

      • Christian Roatis

        Loob is the President of Hockey Operations (or their equivalent of that) for Farjestad, the SHL team Kylington suited up for parts of the last 2 seasons.

        AIK plays in the Allsvenskan which is the equivalent of the AHL in Sweden.

        EDIT: Just saw you corrected yourself, my bad.

  • CofRed4Life

    I think if he’s going to be playing in the NHL in a few years, the sooner he acclimatizes to North America, with skating, and life in general, the better. In my opinion, I would prioritize his possible teams to go like this:

    1. AHL
    2. CHL
    3. AIK

    All 3 are good options, since he’ll be playing hockey and developing his talent, but the AHL seems like it’ll give him the best experience.

  • Graham

    I don’t want to rush the kid, but there would seem to be definite advantages to having him play North American style hockey in either Stockton or Brandon. Another smart move by Brad trading up to take this kid.. Plus it gives us another Flames prospect to watch at the World Juniors.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I think it should be. Honestly, the ECHL is a higher level of competition than the CHL and the Flames would have direct control over his development. Lots of NHL players, defensemen especially, have spent up to a season in the ECHL.

      I’d prefer the AHL, but the Flames do have a lot of bodies down there on D, and I think Kylington needs a decent number of minutes on a game-to-game basis.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        I agree. Honestly if you look at the AHL Defense, we have all these players that will likely take spots:

        Culkin, Kulak, Wotherspoon, Morrison, Kanzig, Nakladal, Sieloff.

        That’s seven already. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them add some veteran AHL D before the summer is out either.

        If Kylington does come over, but isn’t playing big minutes in the A, the ECHL is where he should be. He’d still be playing against men in a pro league learning North American ice. The Flames now own the ECHL team and can control his development down there a little better too. If he knocks it out of the park, he’s the first call up to the A when injuries inevitably hit.

  • Graham

    Wow, first Aulie, now Nemisz? The Oilers seem like they want to make the Flames look silly by performing reclamation on a prospect they gave up on. Who’s next? Leland Irving? Roman Cervenka?

    At least with Cervenka they’d get a legitimate NHL player.

    • Truculence

      I think the Nemisz move was because their AHL team desperately needs help..

      Half of the Oilers roster made the jump straight from junior, they’ve neglected their farm team for years.

  • Graham

    Kylington wouldn’t get a whole lot out of the WHL at this point, he’s been playing against men now for two whole years at a much more competitive level…best opportunities to challege him and advance his development for next season would be either AIK or make the jump to the AHL

  • Reidja

    Ok. If no one is going to say it I will.

    Dude is super talented, has an exciting resume and I can’t wait to see him play… But he has that extremely high amount of confidence that boarders on (insert word for high amount of confidence with negative connotations here).

    I listened to the Loob interview as well, and reading between the lines, I think Hakan was suggesting he come over to NA to get a dose of reality about how much work he has left to do to make the show. I don’t blame GMs for passing him over based on interviews because he rubs me the wrong way when I just WATCH interviews with him. Not that any of this is that hard to overcome – I probably would have rubbed myself the wrong way if I went back and met my 18 year old self (creepy sentence).

    My point is, this kid is going to have to ‘earn it’ just like everyone else who has ever succeful at anything (pretty much). Get him over here in NA and get those eyes open to what’s in front of him. That sooner that happens, the sooner he can flourish.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Confidence is not necessarily a bad thing.. as long as he’s willing to learn and put the time in to develop. From what I’ve heard he knows he won’t be playing in the NHL right away.

      I’m more concerned about his playing style at this point. You don’t want to have a Justin Shultz on your hands. The more time he spends with the coaches in Stockton the more he will get to work his two way game.

      I don’t see any reason why he can’t play in the AHL at this point, his skating doesn’t need much work, it’s just his game and conditioning.

      • everton fc

        The interviews I’ve watched, including one with his dad… Yes, he’s a bit confident. Is he cocky? In his age group, his hockey peer group. Probably. But what I see is a confident kid, a little cocky, who is simply comfortable with all the attention and interviews. He interviews well. He’s mature, in some respects. But confident. I think a trip to the AHL would help bring him to earth. Especially the travel, the fact you have to live like a pro, become a pro, grow up, and so on. Throw in the knocks, bumps and grind older, veteran players will put all over him every shift they can and it may humble the lad enough where the door opens to some real coaching opportunities, both on the ice and professionally.

        He’s a kid. He knows he’s good. He needs to comeback to earth and realize you can only become great, in the NHL. And that road, for him, should start next season, on North American ice.

        I do see the logic of letting him stay home one more season and bulk up. Or send him to Brandon to do the same. Brandon may also be a humbling experience. Small prairie town. Tough kids all around him, on his team and all over the league.

    • Reidja

      Sooo, the well spoken foreign kid is cocky and needs to know his place but good old Canadian boys like Sam Bennett can be less than honest about wonky shoulders but gets a pass because they have a competitive fire in their belly which is desirable. Welcome to the double standards of Cowtown kid!

      • Reidja

        Not at all. I would say that about anyone with a similar attitude at that age and I like confidence. For example, give me a PK Subban who can back it up any day. I think Oliver should come over asap so he can learn what it will take to back it up.

        No Europhobia here dude.

        Edit: plus I purposely didn’t call him cocky

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    When we made the playoffs, I was hoping we’d still end up with a top tier, elite prospect, and I hoped Kylington would be there at 15 because he’d fallen from the top 5 in some rankings.

    I guess Treliving felt the same way, but he decided to get Hamilton, too. If somebody had bet me that we’d come away from the draft with both Dougie Hamilton and Oliver Kylington, I’d have bet all of my worldly possessions that it would be impossible for that to happen, and now I’d be homeless.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I agree a great pick up at the draft, however, I doubt it that they would have drafted him at 15. Remember they took Andresson before him in the second.

  • Christian Roatis

    Only concern with Kylington going to AHL this year for me is: will he get substantial playing time?

    I totally get the benefits of working directly with our development coaches and still playing against men in Stockton, but if he’s in the press box for half the games and playing bottom pairing minutes, is it worth it to bring him in this year this year? That’s assuming he gets top-pairing minutes in the AIK. In Brandon it’s safe to say he will be.

  • Curtis

    I agree with letting him play in the AHL, but we currently have 7 defencemen under contract who will most likely be playing in Stockton- (Wotherspoon, Nakladal, Culkin, Morrison, Kulak, Sieloff, Kanzig). If we want everyone to play and develop, is there room? Maybe one of these players will stick with the big club, but I would rather sign Schlemko.

  • CofRed4Life

    “But I would rather sign Schlemko.”

    I understand he was a good defenseman, and he would do well to stay in Calgary, but with so many 3rd line possibilities, and more rising in the ranks, do we really need to burn a contract and cap space for him?

  • Burnward

    Kylington is training with Johnny Oduya at his house in Spain….any chances of Flames landing Oduya for one year contract now that Hawks have a D-man in the Sharpie trade? Maybe Kylington puts in a good word for the Flames organization.

  • Big Ell

    His confidence and attitude strikes me as very PK Subban like. I am thinking that may have caused the old school GMs in the NHL to take a pass. Here’s hoping he ends up like PK Subban or PK Subban-lite.

      • piscera.infada

        As long as he doesn’t have the attitude of Subban…

        That’s such a fallacious argument. The attitude of Semin, sure. The “attitude” of Subban? Overblown to the ‘n’th degree.

          • OKG

            Kylington is compared to Subban for a “bad attitude” in this comments thread

            I’ve seen Kylington compared to “guys like Seth Jones and Matthew Dumba” for “low hockey IQ” by some guy on HFboards

            Hmmm.

            Vieled racism… those are three pretty good players.

          • Big Ell

            If you think racism doesn’t exist in hockey media and fan bases also give your head a shake. Look at how poorly the Russian player population has been treated by media and fans. They get scapegoated and stereotyped.

            Subban has also received this treatment on some levels. Yet he has been nothing but a terrific offensive defenseman.

            There is still a ton of old school thinking managing hockey teams and in MSM. Outdated thinking dies hard.

          • OKG

            You don’t think there’s anything peculiar when this guy on HF is bringing up Dumba (one of last year’s topshelf rookies) and Jones (one of the best top 3 D in the league) as “terrible hockey players who can only just skate fast” that Kylington reminds him of?

            Or the guy in this comments section isolating Subban for “attitude” when he’s one of the more classy players in the league off the ice?

            Likewise with Kylington.

            If his name was “Drew Doughty” he’d just be a “good ol’ confident Canadian boy”

          • OKG

            Disgusting that u even went there and played the race card

            There are white, black, brown, pink and blue people in in this world that are cocky and also those that aren’t…it has nothing to do with the color of his skin but rather how he comes off to certain folks. I personally don’t find him cocky but I can see how some folks would

            Leave the race card out of this tho…embarrassing

      • Tomas Oppolzer

        The ‘attitude of Subban”? Yeah, I’d hate to have a confident, witty, personable guy who is passionate and will do anything to win. Such an asshole

  • Big Ell

    Right, can’t think of any beloved past Flames that may have dealt with these issues either guys?

    My point is, you better have more if you are going to go around calling folks on this board racists.

  • Big Ell

    Last comment I will make on this.

    When these types of ideas spread, it’s very difficult to know the true source of the idea.

    For example, one mind in hockey management may have some racial issues rooted in their subconscious. They judge a player of a different race sometimes using racial reasoning, and others with that reasoning working behind the scenes without them knowing. They then share their ideas with others. These others may trust their views as a hockey mind, not even realizing the idea may stem from flawed racial thinking. They then continue to pass on these ideas, and they spread.

    To make matters worse, people infected by the idea will interview the player, or analyze how they behave in social settings, looking for anything that matches the general sentiment of others. They then agree with the idea. This is confirmation bias, and it’s a dangerous thing.

    • Big Ell

      Yeah, I’ve taken intro Psych and Anthropology as well. Racism in the hockey world and on this board are two different topics. I hate Sean Avery’s attitude, what does that make me? Stifling discussion for potentially spurious reasons is also wrong.

      • Tomas Oppolzer

        Agreeing with an opinion about one of the players I mentioned does not make you a racist, I agree. It’s not the agreeing party’s fault he/she can’t dissect the brain of the person that first shared the idea.

        However, without questioning the true motive of an idea we have no ability to challenge flawed thinking and avoid confirmation bias.