Oliver Kylington has confidence

(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)

For those unfamiliar with his situation, let me tell you a story about Oliver Kylington.

During the 2013-14 season, the season prior to his draft eligible season, people that follow the draft began to hear chattering about his skills. He was considered a surefire top five pick in the 2015 Draft. But his stock began to slide throughout the 2014-15 campaign and the Flames bought low, trading up into the end of the second round to take him at 60th overall.

This might shock you, but there were likely members of the hockey world’s collective braintrust that saw a teenager playing with swagger in men’s pro hockey in Sweden and fixated on the flaws. After his first full season in North America – as an 18-year-old – he’s a much more complete player.

And perhaps even more confident in his abilities than he was a year ago.

Kylington has a good handle on what area he’s improved in the most over the past year with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat.

“I think my defensive game, for
sure,” said Kylington after on-ice sessions at Flames development camp. “Playing on North American ice and playing the game in front of
the net, how do you position yourself in the defensive zone, I think
I improved a lot there.”

In chats we’ve had with Stockton Head Coach Ryan Huska, it was noted that young players (such as Kylington) had to establish themselves as trustworthy, responsible players. In Kylington’s case, it’s likely that the Flames organization really wanted to establish a baseline of strong play away from the puck and in the defensive zone before rewarding him with better zone starts and ice time.

“Like [Coach] Huska says, I need
to know how to play without the puck in the defensive zone,” said Kylington. “That’s
the issue in how I position myself and make responsible plays, smart
plays when it’s time in the game and not to do stupid stuff on the
ice and try to play too fancy. That’s the thing, you need to learn
when you’re young and develop and focus on it.”

Despite some struggles early last season amidst the steep learning curve of the AHL, Kylington seems like almost a completely different person than we saw at development camp last season. The confidence he had in Sweden has followed him over to North America.

“I think my confidence is
taking me where I am right now,” said Kylington. “If I don’t have confidence, I can’t
play my game. I think my game is all about confidence, and my
confidence is really strong, so it’s nothing’s that’s easy to take
away from me. I play with my confidence and I know what I’m good at
and I know what I need to be better on. And I want to be a good
hockey player, responsible, and I try to listen to the coaches and
try to do what they said and just try to play my game.”

The Flames have a few young defensemen in their system who are developing, but a few jobs on the NHL roster could be opening up for the 2017-18 season as Ladislav Smid, Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland see their contracts expire. Kylington got his feet wet late last season and wants to establish himself as an option sooner rather than later.

“That’s what I’m working
on,” said Kylington. “The summer training, during the season, I’m just trying to
improve every time and show the coaches that I want to be up there
and that I want to play in the NHL and I’m thankful that I got the chance
the last year here to get one game and see how it feels. Now I know
how it is up there and I’m going to do my best to stay up there and
do a big impact in NHL.”

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    I can hardly wait for the days when our defense does not include the name Smid, Wideman and Engelland. They served their purpose, now let’s move on from them to others that could become top 4 players.

    I am interested to see how Hickey compares with the likes of Andersson and Kylington.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        I would put Kanzig in the same conversation as Rafikov; not likely to make the NHL at this point, but could change that.

        I would actually like to have Ollas-Mattsson show up in Stockton this year or next year at the latest. Seems to be the kind of D-man we are lacking – big, shutdown, hard hitting. Mostly we have offensive D-men – Kulak, Culkin, Andersson, Kylington, Hickey, Morrison. Wotherspoon is the closest to a shut-down guy.

  • The Fall

    After last years’s Penticton tournament, I was much higher on Andersson; Kylinton was soft. However, Oliver is certainly separating himself as the top prospect on the blue line right now.

      • The Fall

        yeah, Kylington got injured at last years YoungStars. It happened away from the play. He did not look very strong or confident prior to the injury.

        Andersson was one of the best players in Penticton last year. But sounds like he isn’t taking his development as seriously as Oliver.

  • wot96

    Don’t rush him. Let him develop, grow, and gain further experience.

    This year is not the window, but if the Flames make the playoffs, he may well be up as part of the expanded playoff roster.

  • Christian Roatis

    Everybody knows my love affair with Kylington dating back to even before the 2015 Draft. Should’ve gone Top 10, I’ll always stand by that.

    He is just such a exceptional talent, it’s really great to see him start putting it all together and grabbing the attention of a wider audience. Hopefully he can take that next step in Stockton this year where he becomes a key cog on the blueline and establishes himself among the most dangerous offensive threats from the backend in the AHL.

    The sky really is the limit for Kylington, it’ll just require guidance and patience.

  • reidja

    I know it’s unfair, but there are a lot of similarities between OK and Erik Karlsson. They are similarly sized, similar skill sets, had similar trajectories through the Swedish development system and similar results. Karlsson played 60 games in the show during his D+2 season and has never looked back, so don’t count OK out this camp.

  • Bath Salts Bouma

    Had a dream last night that WW got to announce the Flames trading Backlund at the draft. He was wearing a fishermans hat and you could not see his face.. Just as he was about to announce the who the Flames traded for I woke up.

    I think I’m done with this website.

  • Cool Story, Brodie!!!

    Still can’t believe we got him. I was working during the draft that year so I just peeked at flamesnation every so often, when I saw we drafted kylington I flipped my freakin lid man. Is he still eligible for the penticton tournament?

  • Hockeyfan

    I wonder what the 2016-17 lineup would look like without contracts like Stajan, Wides, Engs, or Smid. Anybody else getting anxious about Monanhan & JG signing?

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      More-so Monahan as he is eligible for an offer-sheet whereas Gaudreau isn’t.

      That being said, you just hope this thing doesn’t turn into a situation where a lengthy negotiation sours either the player or the GM against one another ala P.K. Subban or Ryan Johansen.

      BT is a good negotiator but sometimes playing hardball hurts you in the long run. BT needs to tread carefully with these two franchise players.

      I for one would not be excited about a Taylor Hall for Gaudreau trade two years down the road (see Subban for Weber) – just to return the two players to their home town cuz Johnny was pissed at Brad.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I must admit that I am starting to get concerned about the contracts. BT is a sharp negotiator but very cut throat. The optics don’t look great when most teams have locked down there core players and we have done everything but. I was hoping that both players would be in town for the Calgary Stampede for a big announcement but I don’t see it happening.

        Johnny was talking about wanting to get his contract locked down in May so that he could focus on his Summer training. I can’t think that either agent can come up with comparables that we have no already honed in on. I can see Johnny not wanting to take an 8 yr deal since he would be entering his next contract at the age of 30 which is not ideal. So for him, 7 years makes sense and 8 years for Monny.

        The funny thing is that Johnny talks about wanting to end his career playing closer to home which is great but we will see how this decision changes when there is a wife and kids involved and moving is not as easy or simple. Johnny has become the face of the franchise and could have the key to the city….if that is not enough then I guess the fit is not there.

        If BT comes back with anything less than 6 years there will be backlash on the players and it will not be the mutually beneficial relationship that we hoped.

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    We keep this up and in a couple of years people will be talking about our blue line in the same vein as Nashville, Never. Ending. Talent.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I think Kjillington is going to be a really good player. He definitely needs to beef up a bit. I know he works out with Oduya in Spain but he needs to follow the type of routine that the Nylanders use. They seem to have it down to a science no doubt being lead by their Father who seems to know what buttons to push on his boys.

    I won’t give up on Ras, I will admit that there are some warning signs but he played big minutes in the OHL against the top forwards and excelled.
    Most would agree that with better fitness everything on the ice is easier. Mistakes happen when players are tired and fatigued. It is quite remarkable that Ras can play at a top level without average conditioning but others have done it.

    Players like Guy Lafleur who was a chain smoker and Brett Hall were not known fo their fitness yet they excelled. I realize there was not a focus on fitness back then and the average players fitness even at the Junior level know is top notch. Ras is doing himself a disservice by not keeping his conditioning at a high level but he is playing against players that are far more fit and still dominating. Because of this, I see Ras having the greatest upside. IMO he has star potential.

  • John Wayne's Hat

    The two best things that happened to this young fella is that he was drafted later than expected which may have helped him realize how hard it will be to make the NHL. Also, he joined a team that doesn’t need him to play right away. You know, time in the AHL has helped a lot of d-men including Gio, Brodie, Duncan Keith, and so on. He made a tremendous commitment to move over here as an 18 year old yet he still has work to do though he is heading in the right direction.