What can we expect from Oliver Kylington next season?
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
With a potential exodus of players comes an influx of new blood into a team that could really use it. Not only are the Calgary Flames getting the services of young in-house players like Jakob Pelletier, Matthew Coronato, Dustin Wolf and, another young player that was acquired via the Tyler Toffoli trade, Yegor Sharangovich. However, there’s another skater whose name hasn’t been thrown around as often as the others, and that is Oliver Kylington.
After taking last season off due to undisclosed reasons, Kylington has made his return to the ice this off-season and will be returning to the roster full-time in 2023-24. Naturally, this leaves people wondering what kind of production they can expect from a player that hasn’t seen NHL speed or physicality in 365 days. Is Kylington going to be the kind of defenceman that new head coach Ryan Huska can rely on to eat minutes and produce well offensively? Or is it going to be a year that requires him to take time and get his feet under him for a bit and then go from there?
The last season that Kylington played was 2021-22. At the time, he was 24 years old and registered 34 points in 79 games played. He averaged just a tad above 18 minutes of ice time per night, and he was a player that could generate through transition and in the offensive zone from the back end.
Kylington is a strong presence in the transition part of the game, and he can move the puck in and around the offensive zone very well. The real question is, how will that ability mesh with Huska’s system, and is there a jump in points that can be expected from the Swedish defender?
Obviously, the hope is that that will happen. The idea that Kylington will only score about 35 points every year of his career feels like a discredit to the kind of talent he has. With a focus on speed, transition, and puck support, I don’t think it would be a shock to anyone to see him put up close to what Rasmus Andersson did last season (11 goals, 38 assists, 49 points).
If Kylington wants to get to that mark, he needs to improve his special teams game, or at the very least, snag a little luck in that part of the game. In 2021-22, he played about 78 minutes on the second unit of the Flames’ power play and scored a goal, and registered only two assists. His play at 5v5 was very good, and that fact should lower the doubt that some might have about his return to NHL ice. However, if he wants to really make a statement, one way to do it would be to dominate the power play if he gets the chance.
No matter what some might believe about Kylington’s return to the ice and how long it’s going to take for him to get re-acclimated to everything that the NHL has to offer, it would be hard for me to write that I’m doubtful he will be an impactful defenceman again next season. He’s coming into a system that is different than Darryl Sutter’s, which is the one he scored 34 points in and is most notably a very defence-focused system. Everyone who has watched the Flames, casually or religiously, knows that he can be a defenceman worth playing significant minutes and he can contribute plenty of offensive from the back end.
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