Alex Nylander Leads In Scoring At 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship


Following in his family's footsteps, Alex Nylander is nothing short of a scoring phenom. 

Last week, Nylander and Team Sweden opened the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship with its 10th-consecutive undefeated preliminary round. Through six games, Nylander, 18, leads all players with 12 points (5G, 7A), and has been a crucial part of Sweden's success this tournament. 

But even with Nylander pacing tournament scoring, Sweden fell to Canada in their semifinal match-up on Wednesday night, 5-2.

Nylander jumped onto scouting reports when he posted 15 goals and 40 points in 42 games in the highly competitive Swedish Elite League in the 2014-15 season. He then transferred his game to the OHL, where he posted 28 goals and 75 points in 57 games.

His numbers helped him become the eighth overall pick in 2016, taken by the Buffalo Sabres. Nylander's strong World Junior Championship showing is further displaying the scoring touch that made him one of Buffalo's last cuts in training camp.

Through 29 games with Buffalo's AHL affiliate Rochester Americans, Nylander has registered five goals and 12 assists for 17 points.

Before the season began, Rochester Americans coach Dan Lambert said, "There's no doubt the skill is there, but skill needs to work," regarding Nylander's impending professional debut.

His skill is working, and his strong tournament, fused with struggling Buffalo team, could sway the Sabres in giving Nylander his first stint of NHL action when he and his soaring confidence now that the tournament is over. 

Nylander, of course, is the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs rookie William Nylander, and the second son of Michael Nylander, who spent 15 seasons in the NHL.

Much like his kin, Alex has been a go-to forward throughout his career. After he gets a feel for the North American game, he should be able to transfer his skill to the NHL.

Each Nylander plays a very similar game, relying on their hockey intelligence and offensive awareness to create plays and finish in the offensive zone. Each has also had his share of criticism when it comes to their intensity and using their body.

William's reluctance to lay his body on the line went semi-viral in the hockey community earlier this season when he pulled a "double flamingo." A "flamingo" occurs when a player lifts his leg to allow an opponent's shot through and a "double flamingo" is, well, jumping over the puck entirely--which is a no-go in professional hockey.

Below, William (dressed in blue), jumps over a Steven Stamkos shot on the left side of the image. His gaffe resulted in a goal against the Leafs, a game they would end up losing. His teammates poked fun at him after the play, but not nearly as much as Twitter did.

Alex hasn't shied away from contact quite to that extent, but he does often receive criticism for his lack of intensity and body-checking.

Alex and William are so similar that they were even selected in the same spot (eighth overall) in their respective draft years.

Even their father, Michael, who played 920 NHL games and recorded 209 goals, 470 assists, 679 points and had a plus-75 rating, faced criticism for side-stepping contact more often than not.

William, 20, is beginning to establish himself as a legitimate scorer with Toronto. As a rookie, he has 8 goals and 18 assists for 26 points through 36 games this season. Alex will get to that level soon enough, and could become linemates with generational-talent Jack Eichel when he reaches the big league.

But for now, Nylander is undoubtedly focused on leading Sweden to one more win and capturing the bronze medal against Russia.

'If You Ain't First, You're Last': Erie Otters Take Step Back In OHL

Erie Otters Erie Otters Training.jpg

By Jacob Messing

A historic Erie Otters season ended suddenly in late May when host Windsor defeated the regular season champions 4-3 for the Memorial Cup, given to the winner of a four-team tournament played

Knights Have ‘Golden’ NHL Debut

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By Jacob Messing

The past few months have been full of firsts for the Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s 31st franchise.

In March they signed Brandon Wheat Kings center Reid Duke, in June they sifted through opposing rosters during the expansion draft and selected one player from each team, and later in the summer they unveiled their home jerseys.

10 NCAA Players To Watch In 2017-18


By Jacob Messing

The wait is almost over for hockey fans.

Social media is teeming with #IsItOctoberYet, NHL training camps have started, and teams are beginning to take shape. But mid-September doesn’t just mean a new professional season; the puck is set to drop October 1 for college hockey.

Who Will Replace Nashville's Ryan Ellis?

© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators

By Jacob Messing

Last week, the Nashville Predators announced they would be without rising defenseman Ryan Ellis until the turn of the calendar year. The 26-year-old Canadian is recovering from offseason knee surgery and has not begun skating yet.

Intersection Of NHL Trading Trends And Matt Duchene Deal

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By Jacob Messing

Is Nugent-Hopkins A Fit As Penguins Third Line Center?

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports NCAA Hockey: Frozen Four-Boston University vs North Dakota

By Jacob Messing

A New Test For Griffins’ Sadowy

© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators

By Jacob Messing

The last three years have been complicated for Dylan Sadowy.

He’s played in the OHL, AHL, and ECHL, been drafted into the NHL by one team, and traded to another -- although he’s yet to play a game in the world’s best league.

5 Best NHL Players On Each Side Of 30

© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Edmonton Oilers

By Jacob Messing

Earlier this month, Sidney Crosby turned 30 years old, and even at that benchmark age the Pittsburgh Penguins captain still remains at the forefront of any argument about who is the best player in the world.

However, that’s not to say a new generation of budding stars won’t be entering the conversation soon.

The NHL is becoming increasingly younger, and 20-year-old phenom Connor McDavid highlights the future of the game. So, rather than compare them -- given that Crosby has 10 years on the Edmonton Oilers’ young captain -- we decided to break down the best players by age groups, those above 30 and those below.

AHL Sophomores To Watch In 2017-18

© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres

By Jacob Messing

Late summer is typically when hockey fans ask, “Is it October yet?”

While the start of the season is still a long way off, camps begin in a month -- a time for high-end prospects and AHL players to get good, long looks from their coaches as teams push for roster spots and players seek to fulfill their NHL dreams.

Why Danis Zaripov Won’t Find An NHL Home

© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports OLYMPICS: Mens Hockey-Russia vs Czech Republic

By Jacob Messing

KHL star Danis Zaripov is reportedly eyeing to play his hockey stateside after a two-year ban from the International Ice Hockey Federation for a failed drug test. Both organizations follow the policies of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), resulting in Russian side AK Bars Kazan voiding Zaripov’s recently signed two-year deal.