Team: Södertalje (Allveskan)
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
Projected: Top 15
William Nylander is a crafty winger who can stick handle in a phone booth, has good north-south speed, fantastic lateral agility, and a good offensive IQ. These skills combine to make one of the most talented players in the draft. His main shortcomings arise because of his size, his troubles in the defensive zone, and because he tries to do too much at times.
Nylander has not been able to play consistently on one team, switching from Rögle to Modo to Södertälje. He has done well so far with Södertälje and could improve his draft stock with continued solid play.
William exudes confidence when he plays. Exceptional poise with the puck and is always looking to make threatening plays in the offensive zone. Excellent skater who is very difficult to check because of his agility and because he is always changing pace. Can make pinpoint passes in traffic and if you are his line mate, best be ready, as he will provide opportunities. Top line type player.
Nylander showed off his abilities often and well at this year’s Ivan Hlinka. He’s an offensive weapon and has a great shot, fast skating ability, and smooth hands. He is also great on the forecheck, but should work on his defensive play and pass the puck more often. Ranked by many in the top-three for the upcoming draft, Nylander seems to be a true generational talent although there is still a lot of work for him to do.
“William is an exceptional talent with all the tools needed to become a star,” Stubb said. “He’s an artist on the ice. William is an excellent offensive player with an extremely high skill level. He’s not a selfish player, but does tend to hold on to the puck too long at times. He needs to improve his defensive game, but he’s a fun player to watch and a real crowd-pleaser.”
Where He Would Fit
William Nylander wouldn’t fit very well in the current Predators system. He’s not defensively oriented and he is not stout; he is the kind of player that does well in a puck-possession based team. Players like Forsberg and Wilson could potentially allow the Predators to move towards a more puck-possession based team if they move in that direction this summer.
If the Predators do transition to a puck possession style this summer and are looking for more scoring prowess, Nylander would represent a risk they might be willing to take. If he can put on weight and develop his defensive play, that risk could be rewarded. He hasn’t had the best season so he could be around later like players of similar style (Domi and Shinkaruk) were last year. His skills, however, could outweigh the downside in drafting him considering this is seen as a middle-of-the-road draft class this summer.