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Friday, August 12, 2022
Home Sports NHL What About Alex Nylander? - Pittsburgh Penguins - PenguinPoop Blog

What About Alex Nylander? – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog


“When does Alex Nylander get his opportunity? ”

I was reading Dan Kingerski’s article on Pittsburgh Hockey Now detailing forward Kasper Bjorkqvist’s recent recall by the Penguins when I happened to notice the above comment posted by Bill.

A lightning bolt struck. Creative juices stirred, I thought, “Yeah, when does Alex Nylander get his opportunity? ” So Bill, this one’s for you.

Not to knock Bjorkqvist, but I’m not all that impressed with him. He’s not much of a scorer and seems a step slow for the NHL. With only four goals and six points in 33 games with the Baby Pens, maybe a step slow for the AHL, too.

But Nylander? That might be a different story.

Since being acquired from the Blackhawks on January 5 for spare part Sam Lafferty, Nylander’s put up solid numbers at Wilkes-Barre / Scranton. The 6’1 ”, 192-pound left wing’s tallied eight goals and 16 points in 23 games while skating on the top line, matching his goal production with the Rockford IceHogs and giving him a highly respectable 16 goals in 46 games on the season.

“Loads of talent,” Baby Pens coach JD Forrest told Tribune Review beat writer Seth Rorabaugh. “Offensively gifted. Just kind of needs to round out his game… He can certainly do some things not everyone can do. ”

Indeed, there’s no questioning the soon-to-be 24-year-old’s pedigree. The son of long-time NHLer Michael Nylander (679 career points) and the younger brother of star Toronto forward William NylanderAlex was selected eighth overall by Buffalo in the 2016 Entry Draft.

Elite Prospects wrote a glowing evaluation of the Calgary native:

Nylander’s game is all about skill. Blessed with exceptional hockey sense, technical skills and overall offensive awareness. Very creative and shifty player with speed and soft hands. Furthermore, he has a great release, a good scoring touch and the ability to do the unexpected with the puck. On the downside, there’s some consistency issues and intensity could be better. Some room for improvement when it comes to his defensive game as well.

Unfortunately, Alex has not lived up to advance billing. Struggling to stick with the woebegone Sabers, he managed only three goals and three assists in 19 games spread over three seasons. Apparently having seen enough, then-Buffalo GM Jason Botterill dealt him to Chicago on July 9, 2019, for defenseman Henri Jokiharju.

Nylander spent the entire 2019-20 season with the Blackhawks and appeared to find the footing that eluded him on the Niagara frontier, notching 10 goals and 26 points in 65 games. However, he tore a meniscus in his left knee during the playoffs and missed the entire ’20 -21 campaign following off-season surgery.

Back to that scouting report… especially the first few sentences. I close my eyes and envision him clicking with Evgeni Malkin on the second line. Perhaps a pipe dream. But with the Pens’ secondary scoring drier than a cow skull baking in the Mohave Desert and potential linemates for Geno being yanked quicker than a set of bad spark plugs? It might be worth giving Nylander a look to see what we have ahead of the March 21 trade deadline.

As for those defensive deficiencies? According to his coach, he’s making progress.

“We give him some leeway to try some things with the puck,” Forrest said. “There’s kind of an understanding that if it does not go his way, make sure you track back hard, you kind of make up for it, you recover. He’s done that, even when it’s not his mistake. The effort is certainly there. I do not think that’s an issue. It’s just making sure it’s there all the time. He’s certainly willing. ”





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