The Flames will have three wide open spaces in their defensive corps, and that’s plenty of good news for the defencemen of the Stockton Heat. With lots of talent and not a lot of space, the Heat are certain to graduate at least one defenceman next year, but quite a few more could be coming up through the pipeline.
One of them is Oliver Kylington, svelte skating Swede from the 2015 second round. The defenceman has been one of the most interesting and exciting players in the organization, and could be one of the future superstars for the franchise.
Kylington has been an exceptional player no matter where he’s gone. He started his career playing above his grade, joining the U18 Djurgardens as a 14-year-old. By the next year, he spent nearly the entire season with the U20 team. At 16, he was in the SHL. Kylington had significant hype behind him and was regarded as top five pick in the loaded 2015 draft.
Then, for a myriad of reasons, Kylington started falling. A less-than-great performance in league play combined with a few injuries saw him slip out of the top five, out of the top 10, out of the first round, and into the Flames’ hands with the second to last pick of the 2015 second round. Ollie quickly made the jump to the North American pro ranks, joining the Stockton Heat for the 2015-16 season and even joining the Flames for game 82 that year.
|GP-G-A-P||Primary Points||5v5 P1||NHLe|
Those numbers may not seem as impressive on first glance, but consider a few things:
- Kylington was first among Flames defensive prospects on the Heat in points, primary points, and 5v5 primary points.
- He finished second behind Brett Kulak in a few of categories, such as points per game (0.04 behind) and % of team offence (0.15% behind). Considering the years and experience Kulak has on Kylington, that’s pretty dang impressive.
Let’s also note that Kylington stopped scoring for about half of the season (along with the rest of the team) and still finished several NHLe points better than he did last year. If it had not been for that drought, imagine where he would’ve been.
We reached out to blog friend Brandon Kisker, Stockton’s play-by-play guy, for his thoughts on Kylington this season. First off, where did he improve?
I think Oliver has not only stepped up his defensive game this year, but he also has stepped his offensive game up as well. Sure, there was a bit of a down once he returned from the World Junior Championships, but considering Oliver didn’t get a break at all, I thought even when he wasn’t putting up points, was still working hard on other areas of his game. His play in his own zone is the thing he most improved.
And what does next season hold for him?
You have to remember he’s only 19 years old. I think the steps he’ll make will be in his maturity and preparation as a young man. I see him putting up more points and I see him playing even better in his own zone then he did this year. He’s on the right track for sure and if that track leads him to Calgary next year I wouldn’t be too surprised. If he needs a little time next year still to iron out a few more areas of his game, that’s absolutely okay, too. Very few 19-year-olds have over 100 AHL games under their belt after all! Otherwise, the same things that all younger athletes need to do. Bigger, stronger and faster, but he’s not too far off.
Kylington is one of the Flames’ most interesting and exciting defensive prospects. Kylington will also turn 20 next month.
I wouldn’t say he’s number one just yet, but he’s very close. It’s neck-and-neck between him and fellow Swede Rasmus Andersson for the #2 behind Brett Kulak. Kylington’s youth gives him a bit of a disadvantage, but his professional experience gives him an edge.
How will this play out in training camp? I don’t know. I like the idea of Kylington and T.J. Brodie playing together, but I don’t think the organization will want to pin their hopes on a 20-year-old second pairing defenceman. The Flames have the luxury of not needing to rush Kylington. The team shouldn’t need him to step up next year. If he earns that spot, it’s absolutely great, but I feel he just needs a little bit more. I think an ETA of 2018 will be fair. He’ll still only be 21 then.
Anyways, to leave you, here’s Kylington scoring a sweet goal:
— #FiredUpForTheCup (@AHLHeat) March 26, 2017
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