An extra reason to consider Alex Nylander at sixth overall

Alexander Nylander is probably going to be Calgary’s first round pick on June 24.

That’s the main takeaway from this week’s 30 Thoughts column from Sportsnet’s guru Elliotte Freidman:

Matthew Tkachuk
is “gaining momentum,” as one executive put it, days after the London
Knight bulled his way through the Memorial Cup. You know the NHL’s
preoccupation with skilled power forwards, and he certainly qualifies.

Conventional wisdom is Auston Matthews goes first to Toronto, with
Patrik Laine following to Winnipeg. I think we all expected Jesse
Puljujarvi to go third, but it sure sounds like Tkachuk is pushing his
way into the picture.

If you follow the general progression, Tkachuk perhaps going to Columbus would potentially bump Jesse Puljijarvi down to Edmonton at fourth overall and Pierre-Luc Dubois to Vancouver at fifth overall – presuming neither team throws a wrench into things by electing to grab a defender with their picks. And presuming that the Flames don’t go off the board and grab a defender at sixth overall, Nylander is the logical fit.

Moreover, choosing Nylander may be a really savvy move for reasons beyond the fact that it’d be a homecoming for the Calgary-born player. He could also qualify for the unicorn of CBA oddities: the five-year entry-level contract.

There are two main documents governing player movement for junior-aged players: the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and the NHL’s working agreement with the Canadian Hockey League.

Under the terms of Article 9.1(d) of the CBA, a player that signs their entry-level contract when they’re 18 can have up to two “slide years” in their deal if they don’t play 10+ games in the NHL in each of those first two seasons. For most players that’s not big deal, as they’re in major-junior for those two seasons – goalie prospect Nick Schneider is a good example of this as he has a deal, but since he’s in junior it’ll slide twice.

But European players are a bit of an oddity, and one that provides an interesting opportunity.

In last year’s draft, the Flames selected Oliver Kylington in the second round. He was under contract to a European club – Farjestads BK – and played for a European club – AIK – the season before he was drafted. Because he was a European drafted out of Europe he was able to come to North America and play in the American Hockey League despite being selected in the CHL’s Import Draft. The main factor here was his specific contractual status, as him being drafted while playing in Europe and being contracted to a European team was the primary reason he could come to the AHL straight away. 

As a result, Kylington played a full pro season in the AHL as an 18-year-old without activating his entry-level deal (it slid a year), and most likely he’ll play a full AHL season in 2016-17 without his deal activating either. His NHL contract will probably start running in 2017-18, when he’s 20 and has already played two full seasons which didn’t contractually count.

Nylander’s situation is a little bit murkier.

He’s playing for the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads on a loan from Rogle BK of the SHL, so technically he’s not subject to the NHL/CHL agreement because of his contractual status. Dallas’ 2014 first round pick Julius Honka was drafted out of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, but will officially begin his entry-level deal in 2016-17 – after two seasons in the AHL – because he was on a loan from his Finnish club team when he was drafted.

Nylander is a really good junior player. He was nearly a primary point-per-game player on a team that wasn’t wildly stacked. He was one of the OHL’s most dangerous offensive weapons and is a right-handed shot that can play either wing. In addition to that versatility, he’s one of the few players in the top-end of this year’s draft that the Flames could really take an active role in developing. With the college kids or the other junior kids, it’s usually NHL-or-bust. With Nylander, he could be signed right away and give himself the option of NHL, AHL, OHL or SHL for 2016-17.

If it’s a choice between a handful of similarly-skilled teenage players, I’d take a gamble on the one that I could help mold right away.

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  • OKG

    Clayton Keller is just as eligible for this.
    As is Tyson Jost.
    As is Dante Fabbro.

    End of the day it’s up to the team and player with all but CHL prospects.

    • ClayBort

      They are not. The point is Nylander can play in the AHL without burning years on his ELC. Jost, Keller, and Fabbro are North American skaters that fit within CHL (because CHL has jurisdiction on US players, they go through the standard CHL draft) and NCAA agreements, depending which path they choose.

      • Baalzamon

        Wrong. As long as they’re not drafted out of the CHL, they can play in the AHL early. That’s why the Flames were able to assign Sieloff to the AHL a year early.

        • ClayBort

          If they are on the NCAA path (drafted out of tier 2 Jr A or US Jr) they burn a year as a CHLer would once they hit the games threshold. They are allowed to play in the AHL, sure. They just don’t benefit from the same contract slide euros do. The advantage outlined in the article is not solely playing in the AHL, it’s playing in the AHL without your ELC clock ticking.

          Sieloff’s contract only slid a year because he only played 2 pro games before coming down with infection. He was not exempt from the CHL rule. The very next year he played 48 AHL games and burnt a year off his contract

          • OKG

            You are confused.

            Pro games have no effect on sliding unless they are NHL games.

            Anybody can slide in the AHL. Everybody will burn a year after 10 NHL games.

            Sieloff’s post-draft path went

            2012-13 – OHL Spitfires (Slide)
            2013-14 – AHL Abbotsford Heat (Slide, regardless of injury)

            Just as, for instance, Zemgus Girgensons went

            2012-13 – AHL (Slide)

            and Emile Poirier went

            2013-14 – QMJHL (Slide)
            2014-15 – AHL Adirondack Flames (Slide)

            Sliding has nothing to do with CHL and everything to do with not playing 10+ NHL games in the two seasons following a draft.

            Nohting about Nylander is unique in that regard. Yes he may be able to play in the AHL, just as all the non-CHLers (Matthews, Puljujarvi, Laine, Keller, Jost, Fabbro, Rubtsov, Bellows, McAvoy) are eligible to do so the moment an NHL team elects to sign them to a contract. The only players who are forced by the NHL-CHL agreement to play in the NHL or CHL-until-overager-status are players signed in the CHL – Brown, Tkachuk, Dubois, Chychrun, Bean, McLeod, Sergachyev. I’m a little bit unclear on whether Juolevi can play AHL right out of the draft as he would, like Nylander, have to be under loan from his Euro team. I suspect he, like Andersson, is forced by the crappy CHL rules to continue playing CHL.

  • Longshot1977

    I had no idea about Nylander’s potential ELC status. I’ve commented before that I think he’s my favorite “2nd ledge” pick, and this only reinforces that.

    BT – go get him!

  • Stan

    Wow. This makes Nylander a fair bit more desirable. If we can get him into the Flames system immediately and start molding him and teaching him the defensive side of the game that would be HUGE. Makes a couple of the negative aspects of his game (play away from the puck, size/fitness) less of an issue.

    Also is great for the simple reason that their are more developmental options for him if he plays very well in camp but the team doesn’t think he is ready for full time.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Great article, definitely puts Nylander in a favourable position. If in fact, this applies to Jost, Keller, and fabbro then Nylander still has the edge because their is no risk of him going to college for 4 years and electing to sign with any team he wants. I have not heard of many First round players playing this card…but the potential is there.

    I have come to the realization that some of the anti-Nylander sentiment stems from fans feeling that if there is indeed 3 players on the second ledge…Calgary will not get the choice. However, lots of teams would take that position with a smile.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      If bloodlines have anything to do with it I’d stick with Tkachuk over Nylander anyday, but, you may have no choice but to take a sweetheart like Don Cherry says, as Tkachuk should already be gone.

  • supra steve

    “Alexander Nylander is probably going to be Calgary’s first round pick on June 24.”

    Pronman has his top 5 posted as 1 Laine, 2 Matthews, 3 Puljujarvi, 4 Keller, 5 Dubois.

    Hey…he’s not following the consensus lists. Bad Pronman. Pronman states, “Nylander and Keller have similar skill sets, but Keller is a competent center and better defensively.”.

    Could it be that some GM will stray from the script that has been provided in the consensus top 6? I sure hope so.

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          I look at Dubois’ scouting report and it says he can play all three forward position has great size and has elite playmaking ability and hockey sense.

      • supra steve

        No offence. but I don’t care who the Oil take, though I’d like them to leave some skill on the table for the Flames to pick from. I was just pointing out that the Flames choice has not yet been made public, and it’s never as easy as who’s next on the consensus list.

        Good luck to you and your Oil with that #4. Any rumour as to what they might do?…I guess I do care after all.

        Could I interest you in a Nylander?

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          I think Edmonton needs to pick Dubios. I don’t want people to think that Tkachuk should be rated ahead of Dubios now after the Memorial cup win. He looked good at Memorial Cup but his two linemates were unbelievable.
          I don’t know about rumors I just think they should pick Dubios and let him home his skills in junior then try to make the big club or the AHL in a years time.
          A good playoff run by the Knights should not change the fact that Dubios was the #1 rated North American player all year long.

          • Mcline

            Actually that was Tkachuk – Dubois shot up like 7 spots on the NHLs final list from midterm rank.

            Calgary gets the short end of the stick, picking last on the second ledge.

          • supra steve

            If BB is a reliable source, then the Flames have 4 players on their second ledge, as they wanted to fall no lower than 7th at the draft lotto draw. So they will get to choose from at least 2 players, perhaps more, depending on choices made in the #1 thru 5 picks.

  • freethe flames

    After today’s two article on Nylander and Jost I am not convinced either way; it seems that there might be a couple of ledges. For me at 6 I suspect the Flames have their list and I would be happy to live with it. But from everything I’ve read and watched I think the ledge between 6-12 is very close and therefore would not be adverse to trading down.

    Trading down for me means adding a player we need now and will be with us for a long period of time and still trying to keep in the same ledge. That means you have to have a number of comparable players in that ledge. Looking at the top 3 defenders I don’t see a massive gap between them(ceilings), I also don’t see a massive gap between Nylander, Jost or Keeler. I doubt any of them play in the NHL for 2 years. So in saying that I believe that you can trade down a couple of spots to meet teams now without hurting the future.

    An idea I suggested before and still think has merit is a trade with Colorado. We send the 6th and 66th to Colorado for the 10th, Pickard and Rantanen. We get an NHL goalie, a significant prospect and keep a top 10 draft pick, they get to move up in the draft and pick the big defender that they are rumoured to want and and high third round draft pick.

    Someone on the Jost site suggested that we should trade the 6th to the Rangers for Hayes and Krieder; I personally think that would be an over payment on our part. I would suggest something like this our 54th, Bouma, Colborne, Ortio and either Stajan/Raymond or Eng’s for Krieder one of Fast or Hayes and Raanta. They get a second round draft pick 2 guys that are 26 and a back up goalie, we get help up front and a back up goalie. They can afford to buyout whoever they pick.(i would be able to sweeten the deal with the 96th)

  • StarkRaving

    If Dubois and Tkachuk are gone, I think Nylander is the safest, wisest pick. In fact, I think he’s a safer pick than Tkachuk, albeit with less upside.

    Whomever takes Keller is going to get a phenomenal player. He makes plays that make me laugh out loud.

  • freethe flames

    So if Nylander is the most likely candidate at 6 and we draft him, how long until he makes the Flames? I figure 2/3 years until he makes an impact on this team. I also believe the same thing for everyone outside of the big 3. I read elsewhere that Tkachuk with his play at the MC may have even moved up to #3. Not that this matters for the Flames unless BT can move up at a reasonable cost. Again I am okay with Nylander as the pick and I would be okay with the top 3 defenders. My question is what would the cost be to get another top 10-20 pick? Based on the players we have been profiling the last few days that is where they are likely to go. All of them are likely 2/3 years away as well.

    So instead of profiling more of these guys could we profile players 25-40; players we are likely to draft at 35. Also 45-70 as we have 3 draft picks in that range, if somehow we manged to get 2 of these 4 picks to be NHler’s in the next 4 years we would be head of the game.

  • knappsacked

    thing we forget is, if it comes down to picking an elite forward who carries the teAm himself vs a great complimentary piece who scores by feeding off his linemate, call me crazy but go with guy number 2 if im BT.

    Bcuz we dont need to draft a toews or our subban right now. We have a core of gio brodie dougie monahan bennet and gaudreau.
    These guys are going to be hella expensive. Plus when we have a goalie? Crazy money!

    We just need a guy to put up 20+ goals, and 55 points. They wont get paid 7 mill, and we still get scoring. This draft pick is about filling out our second line, giving us two scoring threats, spreading other teams defense out. This is about bennetts winger.

    Call me crazy but if it came down to a guy who scores 30 goals and 70 points (nylander/dubois) but gets paid 6.5 mill+, versus a guy who scores 20-25 goals and 55 points, but gets paid 4.5 -5.5 mill, for the flames purposes im going with guy#2.

    That way we keep all of our players for the longterm, rather than having to flip out our patty sharp for cap reasons. Gimme any of the second ledge forwards and im happy. But if all he amounts to is someone who makes bennet better and scores 55 points, im not swetting it.

    • piscera.infada

      Yes, I’ll go ahead and call you crazy–not personally, but the argument is.

      You always acquire the best player possible. Your argument is basically “acquire a worse player because they’re cheaper”. Maybe if you’re trading for them, yes. The idea that you would draft an appreciably worse player because they might not fit into your cap structure in 5 years time (roughly 1-2 contracts from signing his draft-day deal) is ludicrous. By the time it comes to negotiate that contract, Gio’s deal is done in one year, Dougie and Brodie likely have new deals–it’s far too much extrapolation to be certain in any way.

      Even if you can’t fit that player into your cap, the better player would have the high trade value. Isn’t that important to factor in as well?

      More to the point, wouldn’t the better player position your organization better over the course of their affordable years, than the not as good player?

      Not only that, but it’s a slippery slope for management/scouting to knowingly pass up on a more skilled, better player for concerns such as where they come from, or how much they might cost in ‘x’ number of years.

      I stated this on a Canucks Army post a few weeks back, but this comment is exactly why it needs to be stated here. Although it sounds trite, you pick the best player available in the draft always. Why do you do that? Because the Flames, Oilers, Canucks are bad teams. How do you get better? By acquiring the best players you can. I will never understand this notion that a team that finished 5th last in the league can for some reason afford to pass on legitimate talent in favour of something like “size”, or “long-term cost”, or “if he puts it all together…”, or “position”, or “organizational need”.

      No, you draft the best player. Now, we can all have an intelligent debate about who the best player is of course, but all these tertiary and quaternary concerns should not be factored in. The draft is too important. It’s about maintaining and improving the long-term health and sustainability of your franchise–not about who’s most likely to ride shot-gun with Gaudreau in 2 years.

    • cberg

      That’s the rationale for trading down 4-5 spots and picking up a Keller plus a very good to great 2nd liner in the process. Or alternatively, a great D (e.g. Sergachev) to replace Gio in 4-5 years, plus the 2nd liner.

      To me that is a good strategy as well, since I don’t see superstar in any of the options we are looking at in the 6OA pick slot. The key is making sure the trade pick-up isn’t just a run-of-the-mill to very good middle 6 player like one of many of the prospects we already have in the system. If you are just pushing out an equivalent prospect, plus downgrading your pick its a total loss.

      The key to any scenario is making the correct picks/pick-ups. It can happen in lots of ways but if you fail for whatever reason it really, really hurts the team over the long haul.

      The other thing to keep in mind is that we may not already have our elite top-end talent, i.e. can we improve on Monahan, Bennett, etc in the 2-3 year time-frame? Focusing just on C, I believe there is a chance that any of Dubois, Keller, Jost or Brown could develop into a truly elite C, but the risks are pretty high. Similarly on D, any of Sergachev, Juolevi or Chychrun could develop to top-pairing status and push aside one of our current top 3. Rather than worrying about contract $s at this point, I’d rather have that problem while enjoying the 2-3 ELC years with them and strong LT run of the team.

      • Baalzamon

        You’d have to trade down pretty far to get a second liner in the bargain. Like, from 6th to 25th. By that point, prospects like Keller would be a long way out of reach.

        • freethe flames

          I disagree, there are some teams that may want a particular player. Also if you sweeten the deal by a late round pick or prospect you might get it done. Funny things happen at the draft. Teams without a first round pick may pay highly for the 35th or even the 54th or 56th that might be ready now.