After taking quite a while to make a decision, the Buffalo Sabres have assigned Alexander Nylander to the Swedish World Junior team, where he will compete for the third time. Nylander has been a huge part of Team Sweden in the past, and could be one of the top players in the tournament on a squad favored to medal this year.
Buffalo of course is hosting the tournament this year, meaning Nylander will be in front of a somewhat home crowd despite playing in the United States. Team USA and Sweden actually don’t face off in the round robin, meaning a potential medal round matchup could be a marquee event near the end of the tournament.
Nylander is seen as sort of a disappointment so far in his professional career, after being selected eighth-overall in 2016. Drafted as he was coming off an incredible rookie season in the OHL with the Mississauga Steelheads (at the time coached by his father, Michael Nylander), he hasn’t found as much success in the AHL. With just 34 points in 80 games, there have been some that doubt he’ll ever be quite the offensive talent of his father, or brother in Toronto William Nylander.
Still, there is much to be excited about when you watch the younger Nylander play. His skating is an incredible asset, a mixture power and elusiveness with great edge control, and he has the patented Nylander vision with the puck. Though he hasn’t found his groove yet with the Rochester Americans or the Sabres, counting anyone out at 19—let alone a top pick and son of a legendary Swedish player—is foolish.