William Nylander: Prospect Profile of Toronto Maple Leafs' 1st-Round Pick

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IJune 27, 2014

William Nylander riding the bike at the NHL combine.
William Nylander riding the bike at the NHL combine.Graig Abel/Getty Images

Player: William Nylander

Drafted By: Toronto Maple Leafs (8th overall)

Position: C/RW

Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 2 European skater

Height/Weight: 5'11'', 169 lbs

DOB: May 1, 1996 (18 years old)

Most Recent Affiliation: Modo, SEL



William Nylander is the son of former NHL player Michael Nylander. Although he was born in Calgary while his dad was playing for the Flames, he grew up Sweden. Nylander has incredible natural ability and is capable of scoring highlight-reel goals and plays.

Nylander played for three teams last season and totaled 16 goals and 34 points in 57 games. Keep in mind he was playing against men throughout the season.  He truly shined when playing against players his own age at the World Juniors, where he scored six goals and 16 points in seven games, including a four-point game against Finland in the quarterfinal round.

Nylander has outstanding hands and the potential to be a special player in the NHL.


Full Scouting Report

At 169 pounds, Nylander clearly needs to add some muscle and size before he can take the pounding of an 82-game NHL season playing against men. Still, the young Swede has incredible hands and vision which allow him to make plays that other players wouldn't even attempt.

Per ESPN Insider Corey Pronman, one scout went as far as to call Nylander "'an artist'...in terms of how well he controls the puck, and the unique plays he makes."

Another talent evaluator was quoted in the draft preview issue of The Hockey News as saying, "When you go to the game as a scout, you want to pay for the ticket just to see him."

TSN's Craig Button had this to say about Nylander before the draft: "Nylander boasts high-end skills highlighted by excellent puck control. His confidence with the puck is outstanding and he has as much patience with it as any player in the draft."


NHL Player Comparison

Marian Gaborik of the Los Angeles Kings. Nylander is capable of creating scoring chances when you think they aren't there. His skillful moves leave fans buzzing and opposing players shaking their heads. He is dynamic and perhaps a bit more creative than Gaborik.


NHL Timetable

Nylander has elite hands and vision, but he lacks size and may need one more season to bulk up and to adjust to the smaller North American playing surfaces. Ideally, Nylander spends one season in the minors or in Sweden before joining the NHL in 2015-16. If he comes directly to the NHL he would most likely be a power-play specialist.


Top-End Potential

At his potential best, Nylander is an exciting first-line center who can top out at about 90 points. He is capable of scoring 30-35 goals a season if he can bulk up a little bit and can certainly make outstanding passes and plays to help his teammates score with regularity.

If Nylander has the right attitude and work ethic, he is capable of becoming a perennial All-Star who is regularly featured on nightly highlight packages.