Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis paid his eighth-overall pick William Nylander quite the compliment following the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday.
“He might be the most skilled player in this draft,” Nonis said, as per the Globe and Mail.
“In terms of being safe, I don’t think it’s a risky pick. One issue for him was his size but he’s grown a lot in the last 12 months. If you watched him a year ago and look at him now, he’s taller, he’s thicker.”
The son of former NHLer Michael Nylander, the 18-year-old William was the first player taken in this draft who didn’t play in either the Ontario Hockey League or Western Hockey League.
As Nonis pointed out, Nylander isn’t the biggest prospect. He was the smallest of the first eight players selected, standing 5’11” and weighing in at only 169 pounds. Clearly, still some growing to do. But his advanced skill could make up for that. After all, isn’t Patrick Kane a bit on the small side when it comes to the hockey standard?
It helps in skill development when your father is a veteran of 920 regular season NHL games, having retired from the league as a player in 2009.
“I grew up around the rink,” said Nylander, as per the Toronto Star. “Going on the ice early, working on small things like stickhandling, shooting before practice.”