FlamesNation Prospect Profile #5: Oliver Kylington

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Oliver Kylington was a lighting rod of controversy all through his pre-draft years. Everything from his innate skill to his supposed attitude problems to his erratic draft ranking status was bantered about for years prior to Brad Treliving hollering out his name at 2015 NHL Draft, making him the 60th name yelled at the annual child lottery.

And then it all stopped. 

Sure, there was some buzz about him right after the pick was made and at development camp, but after that he made his way to Stockton and the nationwide hype stopped.

Kylington’s development did not, however. And that’s why he arrives inside our Top 5 FlamesNation prospects. He was #4 last year.

A Brief History 

Kylington moseyed his way to Stockton Heat camp as a fresh faced 18-year-old and made the team out of camp, making him one of the youngest skaters in the entire American Hockey League. Kylington literally played against guys twice his age. That is insane, and nearly unheard of. 

His defensive deficiencies came just as advertised – much like his offensive prowess – and Ryan Huska & Co. went to work on polishing off a real diamond in the rough. Kylington quickly progressed in all facets of his game, batting a couple injuries along the way, and finished the season among the Heat’s most trusted blueliners.

Read more: FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Oliver Kylington

While the eye popping offensive numbers weren’t exactly there for Kylington, he still put up respectable counting stats considering his age, and even had a cup of coffee – well, maybe an expresso shot – with the NHL club at season’s end, where he looked anything but out of place. 

 

Quotable 

With weakness comes great potential to improve. As mentioned, Kylington’s struggles came primarily on the defensive side of the puck, and as Stockton Heat Head Coach Ryan Huska noted, that’s where his greatest improvement came, too. 

“Play away from the puck is one area he improved pretty significantly. I think he did a good job of really focusing on the defending side of the game, where that was one area that we talked to him about at the beginning part of the year was that we wanted to see improvements to the defending side of the game without losing his ability to generate offense. And he did that for us.”

Specifically? 

“There weren’t as many high-risk plays, he didn’t try to beat as many people one-on-one, he was moving pucks at the end of the year and then working to get himself open to get passes back. So I think he was becoming a more responsible player, and a player that eventually can play in the NHL full-time.”

In terms of moving into next season and moving towards fulfilling that prophecy of becoming a full-time NHLer, Huska outlined his future plans for the young Swede. 

“For him this year, it’s a lot of the same. We want to see him continue to get better defensively, so whatever coach is using him trusts him at both ends of the ice, but we also want to see him being comfortable getting himself involved in the offense for our team both on the power-play and five-on-five. When you look at him this year, he’s going to need to be a big piece of the power-play on the back-end this year and that’s something we’re going to be challenging him with as well.”

What Comes Next?

As Huska mentioned, the next step for Kylington is moving from a fringe AHLer to a prominent AHLer. He needs to continue working on his defensive deficiencies while also stepping into a bigger role on the Heat offensively.

He’ll need to impose his will offensively using his speed and skill, and unlike last year, will have results expected of him. The counting numbers will matter a lot more come next spring than they did this one. You can’t take development camp too seriously, but judging by how he looked there, Kylington looks poised to embrace his new role just fine. 

Read more: Oliver Kylington has confidence

Kylington will go in the 2016-17 season as one of the Flames’ top reserve guys in case of injury. A strong showing at NHL training camp and quick start to the season could further accelerate what feels like an inevitable full-time spot on the NHL roster. His tools and potential are just too exciting. 

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep tweeting snarky things at all the haters who bought into the anti-Kylington propaganda prior to the 2015 NHL Draft, and enjoy every second of it. 

The kid can play. 

Previously

#20Ryan Culkin #19Linus Lindstrom
#18Morgan Klimchuk #17Mason McDonald
#16Brett Pollock #15Matthew Phillips
#14Dillon Dube #13Emile Poirier
#12Brett Kulak #11Mark Jankowski
#10Brandon Hickey #9Daniel Pribyl
#8Adam Fox #7Tyler Parsons
#6Andrew Mangiapane
  • piscera.infada

    Personally, Kylington is ahead of Andersson. Rasmus had a great season in Junior, but Kylington played in the AHL, and to my eye, he improved immensely over the course of the season. Watch for a massive step forward this year.

    • redwhiteblack

      I agree. Maybe Rasmus has a little higher ceiling? 2 great D prospects. Be great if they can both dress as regulars next year. If so our D crew could have great depth for a long time.

      • piscera.infada

        Until we can see how Andersson adjusts to the pro game, I still have to assume Kylington has the higher ceiling. Let’s also not forget he needed to adjust to the North American game as well this past season.

      • Baalzamon

        Kylington has better tools across the board, so it’s pretty safe to assume he has the higher ceiling. Probably by a lot. Andersson was always the “safer” prospect though, which is why he was picked first.

        Andersson is tracking as a high-end second pair defenseman, like Dennis Wideman was in his prime (it’s actually eerie how similar their OHL results were).

        • Bring Back Brathwaite

          yeah wow, very similiar stats.

          How was wideman drafted so late in his year? He put up really good junior numbers at 18, so he wasn’t even an overage at that point?

          • Greatsave

            Not sure about the size thing; Wideman and Pouliot are roughly the same size as of now (6’0″, 205 lbs). But who knows, maybe they were different in their 18-year-old bodies.

            Is Pouliot that bad of a player defensively though? The limited data available suggest otherwise. He was a plus player every year in juniors; the same cannot be said for Wideman.

  • wot96

    Phat Ras still has to resolve his conditioning issues. Hopefully he gets in touch with Gary Roberts.

    Kylington is still incredibly young to be playing defence at that level. He has time to develop.

      • OKG

        I can’t justify putting an unproven goaltender with seven AHL games played (and a pedestrian .920 in them) in the top 3. Right now we have no real idea if Gillies is even better than Laurent Brossoit or Joni Ortio. He is pure hype for a position where simply graduating is a roll of the dice. Tkachuk, Jankowski, Kylington, and Andersson are much more stable prospects whose skills can be better isolated from the team in front. Anyone putting Gillies that high now will likely be flip-flopping the moment he has a slump in the AHL. Don’t forget that 23 year old Ortio had that incredible five game callup… can Gillies carry an NHL squad to 4/5 games or something similar in his 23YO season (which is arguably this one, he is 23 in January)? I have watched Gillies’ college career and never thought he was ever a sure thing. In fact I was more impressed by McDonald’s 2014-15 season than Gillies’ 2014-15.

        We have some of the collectively best goaltender prospects in the NHL between Gillies, McDonald, and Parsons. But I am not getting on the bandwagon of any single one of them, none are sure NHLers.

  • ClayBort

    Fun little comparison case study to watch:

    Oliver Kylington, ranked top 5 at beginning of his draft year, then ranked as a late 1st rounder at the draft, goes at the end of the 2nd round.

    Mark Jankowski, unranked at start of his draft year, then ranked as a late 2nd/early 3rd. Goes in late 1st.

    While picking these two players is subjective given position, background, etc. these two picks are at completely different ends of the draft strategy spectrum and I don’t think we can illustrate more clearly the draft strategy difference in the Feaster/Weisbrod/Button team and Treliving/Burke/Button et al. I think there was a “smartest guys in the room” type ego with the former, and a “you can’t beat the market long term” mentality with the latter despite folks always assuming Burke’s ego gets the best of him.

    • OKG

      Uh the philosophy is the exact same. Players with huge ceilings who needed development time. The rest is you projecting your (hilariously misguided) feelings. Or need I remind you that Treliving and Feaster are both hands-off GMs who give Tod Button and crew drafting autonomy?

      The only “smartest guy in the room” mentality is your own. Feaster and Treliving have both let the scouts do their job – make a list independant of “rankings” and go by number until that list is exhausted. The only documented case of the organization ever going away from the list was Johnny Gaudreau. (and goalies, because goalies are a separate list). Anyone who thinks things like “Weisbrod went over Button to draft Jankowski”, or “Burke went over Button to draft Hunter Smith” is simply projecting. Sutter may have gone over Button in the past but that was a different era altogether. Since 2010 when Feaster came on board we have only drafted by list.

  • Deef

    Makes you wonder where Kyller’s hate propoganda came from… seems like a really decent kid from what I’ve seen. And I would think having Oduya as a friend and mentor would also keep him on the straight and narrow.

  • smatic10

    Right after he was drafted, I watched his WJC highlights. I was quite concerned because his defensive play was awful to put it lightly. But man has he improved leaps and bounds in just one pro season. I love that he’s so young because he has so much time to continue developing. His offensive instincts and skating are already NHL level. He just needs to get stronger and really continue working on his defensive game. In the Minnesota game, he was beat wide pretty easily on a play I recall. If he can learn the close the gap and have good body positioning, we’ll be looking at TJ Brodie 2.0.

    As far as Andersson goes, he showed in Penticton last year that he has the capability to single-handedly impact a game. He was so poised. I’m not prepared to say Wideman is his ceiling. Let’s see how he does in the pros.

    • piscera.infada

      Just a tiny bone of contention here. Can we call a moratorium on referring to every single defensive prospect inside the organisation as “TJ Brodie 2.0”, or “the next TJ Brodie”?