With the 11th selection in the 2014 Hockey Wilderness Mock Draft, the Nashville Predators select, 18 year old Swedish centreman, William Nylander of MODO in the SHL.
Nashvile Predators Prospect Overview
The Predators system looks a little less barren after they added Filip Forsberg in 2013, but there is still a lack of high end scorers. The Preds main issue at NHL level is their lack of offence, with their roster traditionally having a lot of grinders playing very strong defensive hockey. Their prospect pool, while being fairly well stocked, is still full of physical two-way forwards and not a lot of goalscorers. They're also lacking depth at centre.
Born in Calgary, William Nylander actually grew up in Sweden, where he has played professional hockey for 3 years. A lot of scouts have called Nylander the most talented player in this year's draft. He is extremely skilled, with elite passing and amazing speed. A pure playmaker, he shows fantastic intelligence and vision on the ice.
What might lead to him dropping to 11th is his lack of size. At 5 foot 11, 180 pounds, there might be some GMs who pass on him in favour of bigger prospects like Nick Ritchey or Jake Virtanen. Nylander's defensive play is said to still be a work in progress, but I can't imagine a better situation for him than Nashville, where he will be surrounded by defensively responsible forwards. He could be the perfect partner for Filip Forsberg to finally kick-start that franchise's offence.
There are some rumblings that Nylander has attitude problems, but I think his skill should outweigh any possible character flaws, besides the fact that he's barely 18 and has a lot of time to mature.
-Per Elite Prospects dot com:
A highly skilled player offensively. Nylander skates very well, has impressive hands and is excellent at handling the puck at high speeds. Hockey sense is very impressive and he likes to shoot the puck a lot, but is also capable of delivering perfect passes. A very agile player that protects the puck well and skates hard in the offensive zone.
On the other hand, his defensive game needs some work. Not a selfish player, but at times he tends to hang onto the puck for too long, instead of making the easier play. Has the tools and skills to lead his team in all
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/j8gWVmHf0VE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Where Would He Fit With The Wild?
If the Wild were to somehow select Nylander, I can't see any way he would be a bad fit. With Koivu and Granlund as their top-2 centres, they could afford to be patient with Nylander and allow him to develop properly before throwing him into NHL action. He seems to be the kind of player with the skill to be successful anywhere.
What do you think, Wilderness? Leave your thoughts in the comment section and make sure to check out the other editions in this series and look out for tomorrow's.