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Let Alex Nylander sink or swim

March 14, 2023, 3:33 PM ET [93 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Penguins have had issues with their forward scoring depth this season. The top six has played quite well. The bottom six has been among the worst in the NHL The trade deadline was an opportunity to make changes and Ron Hextall was tepid at best in his moves in acquiring Mikael Granlund and Nick Bonino to help the forward group. Also, the team has been gunning for Stanley Cups for the better part of 15 years and the cost of doing business has been their prospect pool. They haven’t had many options for call ups in recent years. Drew O’Connor is the standout and he’s been fine, but also just a guy, nothing overly noteworthy.

Recently, injuries hit the Penguins and needed to use an emergency call up. They called upon Alex Nylander. The 25 year old Swedish forward was a former #8 overall draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres. He has not lived up to his draft status. He was really bad when he was with the Sabres organization. The Sabres were a trainwreck and not an ideal landing spot for any prospect at the time. However, Nylander was pretty bad in Rochester as well. He was relegated to fourth line status on many occasions. He was not putting in the work and his effort was called into question. Needless to say his career was not off to a good start because of himself and his landing spot in the NHL. A trade to Chicago did little to help things out, either.

Fast forward to the present time and Nylander has put in the work in WB/S. He is currently having his best season as a professional putting up 25 goals and 50 points in 54 AHL games this year. Ideally, a former #8 overall pick isn’t toiling in the AHL at age 25. This was an earned situation. To his credit he has made the most of it this season. On a team with a horrid bottom six he stands out as a logical candidate for promotion, even if it was on an emergency basis. He earned his promotion and so far, so good.

In his three games with the Penguins he hasn’t done anything to look out of place to this point. In fact, he’s been playing with Evgeni Malkin allowing Mike Sullivan to spread the wealth and place Rickard Rakell in a third line role to try and juice up the scoring there. He registered an assist in his first game of the year on a Jason Zucker goal. His CF% is 64.73 and his xGF% is 70.28. His small sample has been encouraging and deserving of more time with the big club. They should keep him up even when Nick Bonino returns from his kidney laceration and Ryan Poehling becomes available. Nylander has provided WB/S with scoring. It is an area of need for the big club. He might cool off and ultimately deserve to be removed to the lineup. At this point the Penguins have no other internal options to take a chance on to improve depth scoring. Let Nylander sink or swim. If he swims you’ve changed the dynamic of how Sullivan can construct the roster. Something that has been necessary for months. Let’s see where this goes.



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