FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Oliver Kylington

Of course I’m writing Oliver Kylington’s player evaluation. 

As outspoken an advocate of Kylington’s as there is, nobody was more excited than me to see the Flames trade up to 60th overall to snag the Swede who was inexplicably tumbling down the draft board.

Kylington was slyly negotiated out of his commitments in Sweden and promptly made the trip to North America to start his draft+1 season in the AHL, a most unique circumstances for an 18-year-old. While the numbers don’t necessarily show it, he fared exceedingly well as one of the youngest players – if not the youngest – in that entire league.

Season Summary 

No stranger to pro hockey having played in the SHL in his two previous seasons, Kylington suited up for 47 games with the Stockton Heat, dealing with a few injuries along the way.

Regarded for his offensive prowess, Kylington finished the season with five goals and 12 points, which might seem underwhelming – but expectations need to be in check for such a young player playing a premium position, and heavily focusing on how to actually defend. Kylington managed a respectable 1.4 shots per game, so he was getting his chances, though they were few and far between. I chalk up these relatively paltry results to age and experience, and I think we’re due to see exponential growth over the next few seasons in all of Kylington’s statistical categories.

Defence was the one area of concern with Kylington coming into the year. With an abundance of offensive talents, the player recognizing this area of weakness and actively working to improve it is positive. Erik Karlsson was his draft-year comparable for a reason. 

Impact on team

As the season progressed, Kylington was trusted with more responsibility, but for the most part he was a sheltered, low impact player. What can you really expect out of an 18 year old?

Kylington ended up playing the fourth most games on a Stockton blueline ravaged by injuries and call-ups, and his role increased as the season progressed. By all accounts, so did his ability. “After Christmas I think I’ve been playing a better game on the defensive part,” Kylington said, recounting his season to calgaryflames.com. “I think it’s been a pretty good year. I’m pretty proud of that.”

Moving Forward 

Though he wasn’t the go-to workhorse for Stockon, his season draws striking similarities to that of Hampus Lindholm’s draft+1 year. The current Duck wunderkind also spent his 18-year-old season in the AHL, and finished that season with one goal and 11 points in 44 games played. Those are crazy similar numbers.

Lindholm didn’t get to make his NHL debut with the Ducks that season, like Kylington did with the Flames, but he became a full-time NHLer the year after. Lindholm too was regarded as an offensive defenceman – though not to the extent of Kylington – and plays a similarly silky smooth style of ice hockey. So while the numbers Kylington posted this year might come off as a disappointment at first glance, they line up very nicely with a pretty successful predecessor.

If the Flames end up developing themselves a Hampus Lindholm out of Kylington, the blueline goes from fantastic to simply not fair.

While it would be nice to pencil in Kylington into the starting six next season, I think it’s realistic to expect him return to Stockton and try to make his Impact on Team section a little bigger. Fact is, this is still an extremely raw player, with an extraordinary skill set, that still needs time to be moulded into a player that can find success at the NHL level.

  • piscera.infada

    Watching a lot of Stockton games this season, it was clear by the eyes test that Kylington really improved defensively as the season wore on–although in fairness, he was pretty bad to start. He’s got the tools to be a hell of a player and a mind-boggling steal based on where he was drafted. I bet he takes a quantum leap forward in the AHL next season.

    I think his fall down the draft boards woke him up, and he’s matured under Huska. Guy gets it.

      • piscera.infada

        Yeah. The quality is quite poor in some buildings though. I accidentally ordered a full season when trying to order a single game once–still not sure how I managed that.

        All in all though, if you like to stay up on current prospects, it’s a decent value. I expect them to do some serious damage next season, so I may get it again.

    • piscera.infada

      It’s not, nor should it be a contest between the two–neither should be considered mere throw-in’s to deals (as for some reason, they consistently are). They’re both very good defensive prospects, but they both have a long way to go.

      It’s still important to see how Andersson adjusts to the AHL next year before making bold proclamations about which prospect is “better” though.

      • The Fall

        They were drafted so close, and with so much upside; the comparisons are bound to happen for most of their careers.

        That said, it’s a good problem to have.

  • beloch

    “He had a good year. You can’t deny the talent that he does have. He has that elite skating ability that you see all the time. He handles the puck well,”

    “Our big objective with Oliver was to try and help him become a better defender and that happens in all three zones on the ice. We were really trying to help him stay offensive but make less high-risk plays that allow him to be a guy that can play against anybody.”

    “Over the course of the year, we saw significant improvement in how he defended. He does have a long way to go, of course, before he’s a trustworthy guy that can do it on a day-to-day basis in the NHL but we did see a lot of improvements in that area and that was something that we were really happy with, out of him, because he committed to making some changes.”

    Ryan Huska (via flamesfrom80feet)

    Considering that Kylington fell so far in the draft on the basis of rumours about his attitude, this is a very encouraging response to hear from Huska. It shows that those rumours were baseless, and that the Flames may have a bit of a second-round steal on their hands.

    This will be an especially interesting year in Stockton if Rasmus Anderssen turns pro. A Kylington/Anderssen duo could be a vision of the Flames’ near future.

    • King Quong

      This is one of those I know somebody who knows somebody stories so take it however you want but anyways I’ve got a friend from Sweeden I met when he came and played hockey in Minnesota with a buddy of mine he claims that he knows ollas Mattson, Andersson, and Kylington and that all four hang out anyways we were talking about kylington and when I brought up his supposed ‘character problems’ and he said the true reason for his drop was kylington was hiding an injury. Take that how you want.

      • wot96

        Well, not sure any of us believe the third or fourth person hearsay. If Phat Ras, Kyllington and Ollas Mattson are good buddies, then that it is a little encouraging that we might end up with a big stay at home defender from Sweden that no one is currently counting on. Which is good. Very good.

  • everton fc

    Kylington. Kulak. Andersson. Wotherspoon. Morrison. Seiloff. Culkin. That’s a pretty good group, on the farm. The first four either have, or will, be NHL players…

    A lot of teams looking for defence. Badly.

  • The Fall

    With Andersen not locked up is Jonathan Bernier available at $4.1M…?

    It’s pretty clear Babcock wants him out. Tre could probably get him for a late 2nd or 3rd.