International Ice Hockey Federation

Nylander follows own path

Nylander follows own path

Youngster thriving for Tre Kronor

Published 16.05.2017 10:04 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Nylander follows own path
Sweden's William Nylander shakes hands after a win against Italy. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
The son of a former NHL star and Swedish legend, William Nylander is earning his own spotlight as a pro.

Among the many NHL players in the Sweden lineup is William Nylander. If the name sounds familiar, his father Michael was a long-time national team player whose exploits at the World Championships propelled Sweden to two gold, three silver and three bronze medals in ten tournament appearances.

William Nylander, who recently turned 21, is making his debut with the Swedish national team and hoping to medal in this his first time out at the top level of international play. After losing to the United States last week, Sweden has bounced back and qualified for the quarter-finals. In the playoff round, Sweden can't be underestimated, especially with the influx of NHL players on their roster. The latest additions include Henrik Lundqvist, Nicklas Backstrom, and Oscar Lindberg.

Nylander was drafted eighth overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014 NHL draft. He marveled scouts and others who saw him play with his offensive skills and understanding of the game. Nylander has the tools, many think, to be a thirty goal scorer because of his fluid skating and offensive abilities.

So far he has not disappointed and is a big part of the Toronto Maple Leafs youth movement, along with Auston Matthews. For long suffering Toronto fans, Nylander and company can be the group that has the finally reverses the recent fortunes of the franchise.

Since coming to North America, Nylander proved that he can adapt to hockey at the pro level. After spending some time with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL, he earned promotion and has not looked back.

This season Nylander scored 22 goals and was second on the team in assists with 39. He’s proved an exceptional playmaker during the season.

Sweden is relying on its youth and they have come through in a big way. In six preliminary-round games, Nylander has scored four goals and nine points. He’s also put up a better than respectable +7. Nylander is one of several young forwards who have impressed for Sweden. Gabriel Landeskog, Victor Rask, and Elias Lindholm, have all been important contributors. This group accounts for approximately 50% of Sweden’s goal scoring.

“We’re all playing really well as has the rest of the team,” Nylander offered. “Every win is a big win for us and we’re all happy to be doing our part. We all came in focused on doing our best.”

Nylander has been playing at a very high level already. But since Backstrom joined Sweden in time for their last game, he's kicked up his performance another notch. In their last game against Denmark, Nylander played on a line with Backstrom and scored twice with an assist. Backstrom contributed a goal and assist. Nylander's showing impressed teammate Victor Hedman.

“William is a world class talent. When you put him with Backstrom you’re going to see some magic and I think we all saw that," Hedman said. "Backstrom played with William’s dad in Washington so there’s some chemistry already.”

Nylander admits to being disappointed when Toronto was knocked out of the playoffs but sees a chance to do something special here.

“It’s good to be here and being on Team Sweden,” Nylander said. “When I came here you’re mad with the way the season ended but want to play and keep the season going and try to win.”

There is one more test in this opening round against Slovakia. Then on Thursday the process begins again for Nylander and Sweden as they enter the playoff round of what has been an intriguing World Championship tournament.


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