Buffalo Sabres Winger Alex Nylander Is Ready For The Show

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 14: Alexander Nylander #92 of the Buffalo Sabres skates during an NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 14, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 14: Alexander Nylander #92 of the Buffalo Sabres skates during an NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 14, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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It’s been a longer road than expected to the NHL for Buffalo Sabres winger Alexander Nylander, but it seems that he really is ready to take the next step into the big club full time.

In the last couple seasons, Buffalo Sabres fans got a glimpse of Alexander Nylander in a few games and he put up some sub par numbers considering what fans were expecting. In 7 games he posted a goal and an assist, and it was very evident that he just wasn’t ready to play in the NHL yet. He needed a little extra time to find his game and really adjust to become what he is expected to be.

The Buffalo Sabres selected Alex Nylander with the 8th overall pick in the 2016 draft, one that was held in Buffalo. I attended that draft and worked on the floor escorting the new draftees to their different destinations (interviews, photos, signings, etc) and there was a lot of excitement in the building when his name was galled out by former GM Tim Murray. I wasn’t the one to escort him, but it was obvious how excited the fans were to get a player of his potential.

One of the glaring issues with fans expectations of Alex Nylander is the fact that his older brother William Nylander has had success with our rival organization the Toronto Maple Leafs. Our fans expect the same kind of play style from Alex that Toronto gets from William, and while that is understandable, it is not realistic.

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William Nylander is undoubtedly a top six playmaking winger with good goal scoring ability. He has shown this time and time again since he entered the league. Alex Nylander has the potential to become a top six playmaking winger himself, but his goal scoring ability is not as good as his brother’s. Where William Nylander has the potential for 70+ points and possibly even 30 goals, realistically, Alex is the kind of player that IF he gets towards a 70+ point campaign, about 55 or more of those points will be assists. They are different players, and to fully appreciate what kind of skill Alex has, Buffalo Sabres fans need to stop assuming he is exactly like his brother.

Alex Nylander has played the last 5 games with the Buffalo Sabres after spending most of the season with the Rochester Americans. In his 49 games with the Amerks this season, Nylander has 31 points (12 goals and 19 assists), while in his five games with the Sabres he has 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists). In those games he has shown something beyond a scoring ability, and that is a work ethic. He is not the kind of player to dig down low in the corners and get dirty goals right in front of the net, he is a finesse player who will do well with open space and make the most of an opportunity when its presented to him. He seems to be a much more confident player, and it has to help playing alongside veteran winger Conor Sheary and center Evan Rodrigues.

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While it may seem premature to assume he is ready for the jump to the NHL just based on a few games, this kid is driven to win, and his effort on each shift really shows. He will be taking a roster spot on the Buffalo Sabres next season. It may not be immediately in the top six, but he will be playing in the show for good next season.