If you’re like me, you’ve been following the story of Oliver Kylington and where he may play next season. Don’t know who Oliver is? Let me tell you.
Kylington is a 18-year-old defenseman who stands at six feet and weighs just over 180 lbs., meaning he’s on the smaller side of the defenseman scale when you consider that of the 12 defenseman who suited up for the Adirondack Flames last year, the average size of the blueline was 6’2″ and 208 lbs. While some of those players have moved on, you can see a trend of bigger defenseman coming up in the world of hockey.
However just because he’s smaller doesn’t mean he’s better or worse off. It means he comes with a different skillset. I’d urge all of you to read this awesome article by St. Louis Blue Kevin Shattenkirk and pay close attention to what he says about Duncan Keith (in fact, you should read the article by Jonathan Quick too….it’s really good but unrelated to this story).
If you read the scouting report on Kylington, or even the paragraph that talks about his skillset on either Elite Prospects or Hockey’s Future, you see one thing over and over. He’s a magnificent skater.
You also may see that during his 2014-15 campaign, he was Central Scouting’s Top European skater before falling to the sixth best Euro and eventually into the second round. So what happened?
By all accounts it was playing with grown men in Sweden and of course a midseason injury. He missed out on playing for Sweden’s U20 team during the 2015 World Junior Championships (which tends to be a vitally important place for a young player to showcase his skill).
He started the year with Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League, the top league in Sweden, where he registered 2 goals and 3 assists in 18 games played. He then split the rest of the season with 10 games for Farjestad BK’s junior team (scoring 4 goals and 3 assists) and spent the rest of the year in Sweden’s second division, the Allsvenskan, with AIK where he put up the same 4 goals and 3 assists in 17 games.
Considering that he was a year removed from a point-per-game mark with his junior team and also earning 6 points in 32 games with the SHL, you can see it was a minor setback for a guy like Kylington, but still just minor.
To me, you can tell by the stats that Kylington is a dominant player in juniors. He doesn’t have much left to prove in European junior leagues. The fact that a player at ages 16, 17 and 18 can hang with pros in Sweden is even more impressive.
The fact that Kylington slipped to the second round and to the 60th overall pick where the Calgary Flames traded two third-round selections to jump back into the second round and select this player should show you how much the Flames valued him.
What also shows you their value is that more has been made about Kylington then their first pick in the second round (43rd overall), defenseman Rasmus Andersson who is also from Sweden but plays in the Ontario Hockey League with the Barrie Colts.
But why is that?
Now here’s where the case gets curious.
You remember a few months back I wrote an article explaining the rules of who is eligible to play for our team? If not, you can read it again, here. Well you may also recall there are rules for underage, junior players in the Canadian Hockey League (which again consists of the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) and when they can play in the AHL. You may also recall me saying European players further complicate the matter.
Have you put it together yet?
We have our first “interesting” case of a player! So let’s get to it.
Kylington is currently (or was a few days ago…more in a second) under contract with AIK of the Alsvenskan. Just yesterday, it was announced that the club would not keep him tied up in his two-year deal.
“We do not stop Oliver from the opportunity he has been given,” AIK general manager Anders Gozzi said.
And thus the path to playing in North America has been paved for a player who turned heads with a great performance during the Flames Development Camp. Now the question is where he will play and that’s where the case gets even more curious.
With his Swedish team electing to not hold him obligated to play in Sweden, the move for Kylington in North America could take him to one of three places, Calgary, Brandon or Stockton.
The first case is the easiest. Should he make the Calgary Flames roster out of camp, he’ll play for the Flames. While I’m definitely not saying this couldn’t happen (because it could) the blueline for the Flames looks a little tough to crack with Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell and someone like Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland or even Tyler Wotherspoon taking the sixth and seventh defensive spots.
That leaves two other landing spots, and that’s where the situation gets sticky.
Kylington happened to be drafted twice last season. We know he was taken 60th overall by the Flames but prior to that, he was taken 60th overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft (for non North American skaters).
So this is how the rule goes. If a European player is drafted in the CHL draft before the NHL club that player is obligated to play in the CHL. The only exception to this sub-rule is if they’re drafted as a member of a European squad and choose post-NHL draft to play for a CHL team, they can play in the minor leagues.
Well Kylington was drafted by Calgary on June 27 and drafted by Brandon on June 30, making Kylington eligible to play for either the Stockton Heat or Brandon Wheat Kings next year.
So it’s an interesting case and decision that has to be made by Brad Treliving and company as to where the best place for Kylington to develop is. If you listen to former Flame legend Hakan Loob, Oliver should land in none other then the 209.
I personally have no knowledge of where he’ll end up, be it in Calgary, Brandon or Stockton, but it is exciting to see such enthusiasm for a player who was passed up in nearly two rounds of the draft. I personally have heard more about Oliver Kylington then I have Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid combined (however that may be unfair. I do work in the Flames organization). Seeing what Hockey’s Future says about him, what a respected player like Loob said, and also seeing how well he did in Calgary during the development camp, it’s worth diving into the complicated rules and regulations of minor league hockey just to find out if a player with a ton of upside may suit up for your squad.
I’m closing out all of my blog posts with a jersey or logo in the sports world. I love sports jerseys (I collect them) and I love logos and what goes into making a brand.
So the news of the week is all about the Winter Classic, which will be between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens in an Original Six showdown at Foxborough Stadium (home of Deflategate!) on New Years Day 2016.
As someone who attended the very first Winter Classic, I can assure you, it is one of the, if not, the greatest sports event I’ve ever been to.
One of the best things about the event is (unlike the Stadium Series jerseys) they tend to use old logos and jerseys to make the event special. I haven’t met a Winter Classic jersey I didn’t like, and something tells me with the logos that the Bruins and Habs revealed earlier this week, that I won’t have much to complain about in the 2016 version of the event.
That actually is my favorite primary Bruins logo ever. I have always liked their very first logo with the small bear…I think I’ve already mentioned this once this offseason when I talked Dougie Hamilton. However the Canadiens logo is really cool to me and I can’t wait to see what the jersey looks like. As far as the use of white space goes, can’t get much better then what they did with the blue and red lines!
Which Winter Classic Logo do you like better?
Brandon Kisker is the Heat’s Director of Broadcast & Media Relations and is entering his third season as a broadcaster in Stockton. Follow him on Twitter @kiskerbc or email him at email@example.com with comments or questions.