Sabres GM Tim Murray has dangled a tasty carrot for eighth overall draft pick Alexander Nylander. If the 18-year-old puts in the work over the summer, he might be able to earn a spot in the NHL next season.
Per the Buffalo News, Nylander could play in the NHL, the AHL, Europe, or be returned to his junior team in Mississauga.
“If you ask me, ‘Could I see him going back to junior?’ I guess there’s a scenario,” Murray told reporters Tuesday. “If you ask me, ‘Could I see him playing wing with [Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart]?’ I think there’s a scenario. … He’s just high-end talent, high-end skill. He’s going to be a real good NHL player. It’s a matter of time.”
Nylander had 75 points in 57 games for the Steelheads last season. For that, he was named the OHL’s rookie of year. He thinks he can make the jump to the Sabres right away, and promises he’s “going to do everything it takes in the summer to get ready for it.”
Just don’t expect him to be gifted a roster spot. The Sabres have much higher expectations heading into 2016-17. They can’t afford to have youngsters who aren’t ready.
“We think we’re stronger. We’re deeper,” head coach Dan Bylsma told NHL.com recently. “If you’re looking at expectations from within, we should be above 95 points at the end of the season. It took 95 points to get into the playoffs in the East last season.”