One of the side effects of becoming a perennial contender in the National Hockey League is drafting late in every round.
Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman made the right bet when he dealt Tampa Bay's 2015 1st rounder to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Braydon Coburn deal; holding on to the New York Rangers' pick instead saved him a single spot in the draft order. That means Tampa Bay will pick 28th overall when the 2015 NHL Entry Draft gets underway on June 26 in Sunrise, FL.
The top-end talent in this year's draft class, long believed to be both a high quality and deep one, won't be available to the Lightning, barring some unforeseen maneuvering. Prospects likely to be available at the bottom of Round 1 are going to have some flaws and weaknesses, but it's up to Director of Amateur Scouting Al Murray and his staff to keep finding quality players to backfill the organization with more talent at all positions.
Our first target is 18-year old Swedish defenseman Oliver Kylington, who played in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) last season and has done so since he was 16. That's the top league in a very competitive hockey country, and the pro experience is certainly something that makes Kylington an attractive prospect should he be available when Tampa Bay's pick comes around. It does make measuring his raw numbers against his peers more difficult; an outstanding 17 year old will still struggle at times in a top league like the SHL, whereas dominant teenagers in North American junior leagues put up more gaudy point totals.
Still, his overall offensive production is encouraging for a player his age:
Kylington is universally praised for his skating ability and vision on the ice; he skates exceptionally well in all four directions and is equally capable of starting a breakout with the puck on his stick or making a smart pass up ice.
Kylington's stock seems to have taken a bit of a hit in North America, partly because he was demoted twice from his SHL club (to the 2nd division pro league and his SHL club's junior affiliate) and partly because he did not participate in the World Junior Championships in January due to injury. There are also questions about his size and consistency. From Jeff Marek of Sportsnet:
You have to love the skating, you have to love the offense but what scouts grouse about with Kylington is his consistency. Some nights it's just not there. Wonderfully gifted skater, one of the best in the draft but is that enough right now to risk a high selection?
Still, Kylington screams "Tampa Bay prospect" when you consider what traits this organization has tended to favor, especially in the early rounds: elite skating ability, very good hockey sense, offensive upside. Size is a secondary concern at best. His issues could be a blessing in disguise if he falls to the end of the first round. Most scouting breakdowns of Kylington read like this one, from Rafik Soliman of Elite Prospects:
A smart two-way defenseman, who has tremendous feeling for the game and reads the plays well. Oliver Kylington is only average sized, but lets you forget the missing inches with his hockey sense, his strong vision and remarkable skating abilities. Owns a good shot from the blue-line and combined with this very good puck- and passing-skills, he can guide a power-play and the team's offensive game to success.
Go down the list of attributes Tampa Bay prefers, and Kylington gets a check in every box. He can get bigger and stronger and any issues with consistency or defensive zone coverage can be developed over time, as we're seeing now with a player like Nikita Nesterov. With the Lightning's emphasis on mobile, puck-moving defense that can both make a good first pass and lead/join a rush, Kylington should absolutely be a guy to consider taking with the 28th overall pick -- should he still be available.
- TSN (Bob McKenzie): #24
- TSN (Craig Button) #47
- Future Considerations: #28
- ISS Hockey: #32