Written by George Johnson (Via Calgary Flames)
The general manager of Färjestad BK at the time, an icon of yesteryear around these parts, was – he’ll admit – initially gobsmacked.
“You get struck by lightning, so to speak,” recalls Hakan Loob, thinking back to Oliver Kylington’s arrival in Karlstad, to Löfbergs Arena, back in the 2013-2014 Swedish Hockey League season.
“You see the guy, his poise, his skating ability, and your first question is: ‘How old did you say he is again?’
“The level of his play tells you he’s this old and his birth certificate, his passport, tells you no, he’s a lot younger than that.”
At 16, a mere moppet, Kylington broke into the SHL, a prodigy of sorts, playing against men for the most storied franchise in the land.
“I shouldn’t say you’re that surprised because every now and then these guys do show up,” says Loob, a key cog in the Flames’ 1989 Stanley Cup title victory and now on board as the club’s head European pro scout. “But with the skating ability I mentioned, his mobility, and then he scores a goal to become one of the youngest guys ever to do that in the Swedish league, well …
“The media jumped all over that here. He was getting all kinds of attention.
“It was fascinating but as a GM you have be a little careful, kinda slow things down a little, make sure it’s not too much, too soon. You can’t rush things. They have to happen in a good way.”
Five years on, a 21-year-old Kylington continues to push for full-time employment at the Scotiabank Saddledome as one of the club’s most intriguing defensive prospects.
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