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.