Canucks Army draft prospect profile #3 – William Nylander

william nylander modo
via SHL

The scenarios I’m devising to which William Nylander falls to the Vancouver Canucks are much like an England fan devises ways the Three Lions could advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup despite losing both their first two games.

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“Well, you get the two Sams off the board, and also Aaron Ekblad, maybe Florida take him? And maybe the Oilers reach on a defenceman like Haydn Fleury, and, uh, Brian Burke likes Nick Ritchie, yes? There!”

It’s a wildly plausible scenario and not at all likely to result in heartbreak. Nylander is our third-ranked prospect, but probably the most exciting player in the draft.

Position: C/RW
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 181 lbs
Birthdate: May 1 1996

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Nylander’s scouting report sounds like critics blurbing for a Michael Bay movie. “Extremely skilled” “dynamic” “quick hands and feet” and the kicker from Corey Pronman “may be the most gifted pure offensive talent in the draft”:

Nylander’s pucks skills are elite, as he can be described as “an artist” by some scouts in terms of how well he controls the puck, and the unique plays he makes. Nylander’s hockey sense is fantastic as well, in terms of his vision, and offensive intellect. You combine that with a pretty good top gear and Nylander can create all sorts of havoc offensively.

There may be two better players in this draft, but arguably neither can bring to the table what Nylander can offensively, which is what makes the young Swede so attractive to Canucks fans as a potential pick. The Canucks have always seemed to lack that top-end forward prospect, and he’s a guy who can generate excitement among the fan base and make a god-awful team from 2013-2014 (if you listen to the podcast, it becomes clear that I tuned out for the final three quarters of the season) somewhat interesting to watch.

Willy Nylander, the son of former offensive mercenary (that sounds better than ‘journeyman’) Michael Nylander, recorded points (27 in 35 games) playing in the Allsvenskan league against men, and diced competition his own age group at the U-18s. In seven games this spring at the international tournament, Nylander led with 16 points, five more than his closest competition, who happened to be linemate Axel Holmstrom. All told, in U-18 competitions, Nylander scored 25 points in 14 games.

Also, from what it sounds like, Nylander isn’t locked into any deal in Sweden, meaning he can come over and play in the NHL or AHL right away:

Nylander said he isn’t tied into a contract with any team in Sweden, so he is open to doing whatever is necessary to begin his professional career in North America in 2014-15.

“My goal is to do whatever I need to do to earn a spot,” he said. “I like to create scoring chances and score goals.”

Note that Willy didn’t say “I want to do whatever I can to help the team win.” There are already enough players like that in North America. What makes Nylander so intriguing as a potential Vancouver Canuck is that he doesn’t seem to have forgotten that hockey should be about fun more than it should be about winning and losing.

Also, this:

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bringwillyhome tweet

Here is a video of Nylander’s Allsvenskan hat-trick back in January, when he was on loan to Sodertalje. Making a cameo appearance is another top European prospect David Pastrnak, who actually led the team in scoring because Nylander bounced around between three club teams a year ago:


William Nylander
Cam 3
Dimitri 4
Josh 6
Rhys 4
Thomas 5


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  • Came across 1040 listening to Jason Botchfart advocating how the Nucks should trade their #6, Hunter S. and Tanev for Florida’s #1 for a chance at drafting Sammy Reinhart…. As much as I like the local boy, Who in their right mind would trade 3 pieces of our future for a #2 centreman? I’d rather keep our players (Top 6 winger, Top 3 defenceman respectively) and take Nylander @ #6 (potential 1st line winger).

      • Mantastic

        Sorry. My projection for Reinhart is more a Brendan Morrison type centre than Joe Sakic type franchise centre (both relying on skill vs size). Was Morrison a bad player? Nope, didnt say that either. Just not worth the tariff of losing whatever precious little depth we have, in order to upgrade from whomever fails into our lap at #6.

      • Mantastic

        As talented as Reinhart is, he is not our #1 centre which we are to build a championship caliber team around. On a cup contending team, he would be a nice #2 with Horvat and Gaunce slotting in at 3rd and 4th respectively.

        • Andy

          If we end up still holding the 6th pick, I’m okay with that.

          Regarding Reinhart, I’d much rather try and offer Jensen instead of Shinkaruk. Especially given how Jensen’s value is higher than Shinkaruk’s (Hip Surgery vs 10 games with the big boys).

          Heck, make it Tanev, Jensen & a our 2nd round. I’ve confidence that Kesler can net a late first, if not mid-round pick (plus a roster player)

      • acg5151

        I disagree. Nylander could easily fall to six.

        Ekblad, Reinhart, Bennett are all going before we pick, unless we trade up.
        Dal Colle and Draisatl are also guys who could easily go top 5. I’d say that Draisatl is a lock to go in the top five.

        So at #6, unless one of the top guys falls, we are going to get one of Draisatl, Dal Colle, or Nylander. I would be happy with any one of those guys and it could easily be Nylander who falls into our hands.

      • Mantastic

        Chances are a lot higher than you think.
        1-3 (Florida/Buffalo/Edmonton be as predicted by Central Scouting). Calgary at 4 will draft someone more to Burkie’s liking (truculence anyone?). The only wildcard would be the Islanders at 5 and what pretend GM Snow does is anyone’s guess at best…

    • jung gun

      Hunter looks like he’s got the potential to be a first line winger, but he could also become an injury prone semi-bust. Tanev… yeah, I’d be bummed out to see him go, but he’s not an essential piece of the team and can be replaced. The chance of Nylander dropping to #6 is pretty unlikely, which is noted in the article. If Willie was to drop, and I knew that from the beginning, then yeah, I’d stay at 6 and draft him.

      That said, Reinhart looks like he’s gonna be really, really good. People keep suggesting that you can’t teach size, and blah blah blah. Well, you can’t teach raw intelligence, and that kid is lauded for having a tonne of it. The great thing about intelligence is that it suggests its possessor is more likely pick up skills quickly, and while Reinhart’s young, he still has the potential to learn all sorts of stick skills, dangles, and whatnot.

      So, given the situation, which seems like it’s more likely we’ll draft MDC than Nylander or any of the other centres who have first line potential, I’d rather trade some of our assets, move up to 1st, draft Reinhart, then execute a Kesler to Anaheim deal for their 10th + hopefully their 24th and Etem or Palmieri. That way, we can pick up some of the riskier prospects later in the draft, just like how we picked up Hunter S, and get a potential first line centre, based on his PPG through junior. I’d provide the link to the great article written on the blog, but I’m lazy.

      Just for reference/discussion’s sake, I’d really like to see the Nucks choose Fabbri at 10th. If Horvat does actually turn out to be the excellent 3rd liner that some people claim he’ll top out at, Fabbri could be a solid 2nd line centre that’d put up numbers if he has big wingers to back him up.

    • Mantastic

      If Florida will take that deal, I think you make it. I’d be bummed to lose Shinkaruk who is an exciting player with lots of potential (but POTENTIAL is not the same thing as a lock to be…), but you have to give up players like that to get a guy who could be a franchise-carrying player for the next 10 years. We need a 1C to replace Henrik something fierce.

      And Tanev wants to get PAID. He is replaceable. We are already paying too many d-men more than they are worth. If you could get rid of one of the NTC guys instead of Tanev, that would be preferrable, but getting a guy (ok, ANOTHER guy) to waive an NTC to go to Florida is a big ask. Not gonna happen. No matter how many times I say I wish they’d take Garrison back.

  • I think Ekblad, Bennett and Reinhart are the majority’s top three. Draisaitl is four for most, and Dal Colle has gotten a lot of love at five.

    I would give it a 40-50% chance of Willy dropping to us.

    Imagine how much fun it would be to have two Willys!

  • Andy

    Whether Nylander gets picked top 5 or not, I don’t have confidence that the Canucks pick him or whoever is displaced by him (thinking of the Sams, Ekblad, Draisatl, and MDC). For me, part of the attraction of trading for the 1st overall pick is that it keeps the Canucks from doing something foolish like passing on Nylander, Ehlers, or Dal Colle for one of Ritchie, Virtanen, or Perlini (not that I think those latter three guys are terrible, just that IMO they are all reaches of varying degrees at #6).

  • Mantastic

    I’m also doubting that Nylander dropping to 6 is as unlikely as you guys claim. Reinhart, Ekblad, Bennett, Draisaitl and Dal Colle could all be picked first. Even Ehlers or Ritchie have a chance to be picked before him.

  • Mantastic

    If Hunter is in this draft, where does he go? Top 10? So, say he goes in the 10 spot, you are flipping 6, 10 and a top 4 young d man with upside for a #2 centre? Bad deal. Canucks brass are smarter than that. If you replace Tanev with Hansen, sure if the Cats include their second rounder.

    • Mantastic

      That’s a lot of assumptions based on…what exactly? Why in the world does Florida make that deal?

      I really like Tanev but people are out of their minds if they think just he, a late first rounder from last year coming off injury and this year’s pick is enough to move up to first. You really think no other team in the league could match that price? And why in the name of god would any team take Hansen?

      Do we collectively think that every other GM is going to lose their minds now that Gillis is gone and gift us everything we want?

      I am not by any means a fan of truculence but is there really no concern about Nylander’s size or defensive awareness (both of which seem to be the knocks against him)? He’s bounced around the Swedish divisions it seems — what would it take to get him NHL ready (i.e. would the AHL even be an appropriate developmental league for a player like him or would Europe be better)?

      • Mantastic

        I agree with everything you have to say.

        Regarding the Willie development:
        IMO, Willie would take 2-3 years in the AHL to transition from the SHL to the NHL to hit the ground running. less than ideal when you want to transition the next phase of the canucks core a little faster. sure you can get him playing in the NHL earlier but that would be a detriment to his development.

        • Mantastic

          To think that we can reload and compete next year seems delusional to me. Looking like a 2-3 year rebuild right now. If we should be able to draft Nylander, then every opportunity should be to let him develop properly (even if it is determined that it should be in the NHL). As fans, we should all look towards another season out of the playoffs (hopefully more players with NMC would change their minds on moving), and pray hard for a 2015 lottery pick (McSaviour would be the #1 centre we dream to build a team around).

        • Mantastic

          Rodin, Schroeder and Mallet for 1st.

          Seriously though, I’m happier with the Canucks not moving up. They’re going to get a good prospect at 6 regardless, why give away one of your other good prospects and a 4/5/6 defeseman for a slightly better prospect than the one you gave up? You’re then left with: one good prospect, whereas you could have had 2 good prospects and your defenseman.

          Seems silly to me.

          Also, I agree on Jensen’s value. He could conceivably become a top-6 winger, but he’s looking more like a bottom-6 guy right now, and hasn’t really given any indication of going beyond that.

  • Mantastic

    I think they should trade tanev+ something to the islanders for their 5th overall pick. If it needs sweetening add Hansen or Schroeder depending how sweet.

    Having 5 and 6 makes it easier to get what we need and have one of them improve the odds of panning out the way we hope.

          • Mantastic

            Well I think Hansen is probably still wanted in some capacity but that no movement clause is a little bothersome.

            Whatever the case I still would prefer to pay less for #5 and have 2 picks in the top 6 then give up the #6 + roster/prospects to have #1 and #10.

            GM’s do weird things at the draft and you never know who can drop to you if you sit in those 3-6 range and not over pay to get those picks.

            Ehlers and Nylander are real wild cards that could play havoc in the first 5 picks.

            An argument could be made that the Panthers want Ehlers as a winger for all their centers and that’s why they want to trade down.

            Buffalo could take a “SAM” center but they might look at Nylander and his ability to play against men as a quicker fix to their team and so they could grab him.

            Burke could grab a center because he’s not dumb but should Ekblad drop then he might grab him as a new defensive foundation. Not that I think Ekblad would get past Edmonton but he might since they also do weird stuff in Edmonton.

            Speaking of weird GM moves will Draisaitl not get picked because he’s German and “might be a risk” over Bennett, Rienhart, Dal Colle, Virtanen? – You know Canadian kids”

            Friday is going to super exciting and will be my recover day after cheering for “Die Mannschaft”