Written by Wes Gilbertson (Calgary Herald)
He was first to arrive as a regular at the Saddledome.
These are not bad footsteps for recent call-up Oliver Kylington — currently operating as Andersson’s defence partner with the Calgary Flames — to continue to follow.
“I’ve been feeling ready for this now for probably a year and a half. I felt ready last year, too, to play NHL games,” Kylington said after his summons from the farm team. “But you just need to stay ready. Stay ready and be positive and be humble and work hard. That’s how I was thinking — you need to picture yourself somewhere else and see the goal ahead of you and just work hard. And eventually, it will pay off.
“And then when you get this chance, capitalize on it and do the best you can. From Day 1, it’s always been me believing in myself, so I’m not going to change anything. I believe in myself that I’m going to play up here for many years.”
He has so far logged a grand total of four appearances at hockey’s highest level — one in April of 2016, then Sunday’s rout in Arizona, Wednesday’s overtime bummer against the Dallas Stars and Friday’s 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings — but a guy has gotta start somewhere and the 21-year-old has a long runway ahead of him.
Originally projected as a potential lottery pick, Kylington was still squirming in his seat when Calgary’s contingent welcomed Andersson at No. 53 overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Just a few minutes later, with Kylington still available, the Flames packaged a pair of picks to move up to No. 60 and promptly called his name.
Selected just seven slots apart, the Swedes are now paired as blue-line buds in Calgary.
Both started this season with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat, but Andersson didn’t have long to mope about the demotion before his phone buzzed after Travis Hamonic suffered a facial fracture on opening night.
Kylington was recalled just over a week ago to fill in for rookie Juuso Valimaki, out week-to-week with a foot injury.
The assumption is that the silky-skating Kylington will be returned to the farm team once Valimaki is ready to rock.
Andersson is the latest example that it’s possible to alter those plans.