Analysis

Alexander Nylander Impresses In Blackhawks’ Preseason Opener

By Michael Wagner
BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 28: Alexander Nylander #19 of Sweden scores on a slap shot in the third period against Czech Republic during the IIHF World Junior Championship at KeyBank Center on December 28, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. Sweden beat Czech Republic 3-1. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 28: Alexander Nylander #19 of Sweden scores on a slap shot in the third period against Czech Republic during the IIHF World Junior Championship at KeyBank Center on December 28, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. Sweden beat Czech Republic 3-1. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images) /
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Alexander Nylander stood out during the Chicago Blackhawks’ 1st preseason game against the Washington Capitals.

Just three practices into training camp and the Chicago Blackhawks are already hitting the ice for their preseason opener. As the Blackhawks traveled to Washington to take on the Capitals, head coach Jeremy Colliton would give his young forwards a chance to make an impact to start the preseason.

Last night’s roster mainly consisted of new additions to the team and players looking to crack the NHL. The Blackhawks are in a great position heading into the 2019-20 season, with an abundance of young talent looking to fill the last few spots.

This is basically the opposite of how the Blackhawks entered the 2018-19 season. Even though some players might not initially start in the NHL, there’s still a good chance they get called up due to injuries or underperforming players. It’s a great problem to have.

Players like Dylan Sikura, Aleksi Saarela, Adam Boqvist, Anton Wedin, and Alexander Nylander would get the spotlight in game one and many would take advantage, with Nylander being the main standout of preseason game one.

Nylander would notch a goal and an assist in this preseason opener, and he was active all night for the Blackhawks. He displayed that drive to make the opening night roster, which many had questioned.

Nylander was extremely active throughout the night, most notably in the offensive zone and was often able to create scoring chances while he was on the ice.

Coming into training camp, there was already a mountain of pressure facing Alexander Nylander.

His father, Michael Nylander, spent four seasons with the Blackhawks. His brother, William Nylander, has already established himself as an elite wing in the NHL.

Plus, he was also acquired in exchange for what many perceived to the top defensive prospect in the Blackhawks’ system at the time, in Henri Jokiharju.

With all this pressure on him, Nylander has approached this training camp with the right mindset and has displayed the work ethic that was promptly questioned when he was traded for. With more games like this, Nylander is going to make this decision for management an easy one. He wasn’t the only one who stood out on Monday night though.

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He and fellow youngsters, Adam Boqvist and Aleksi Saarela, all had exceptional debuts, with the three of them combining for the Blackhawks’ three goals and five total points between them.

The trio of young Blackhawks were all solid in their own right; Saarela with solid net-front instincts and two-way play, and Boqvist with a highlight-reel goal and questionable defensive play. However, it was Nylander who was the clear standout of the bunch.

Many questions now arise with last night’s performance. This begs the question of how/where Nylander fits with this group? Does Nylander supplant Dominik Kubalik as the prognosticated breakout player? Does he knock the newly re-signed Perlini onto waivers? Does he completely leapfrog Dylan Sikura now?

These are all legitimate questions that the Blackhawks management will need to determine in the coming weeks, with the truncated preseason schedule before they head over to Prague.

Nylander, along with Boqvist and Saarela, has already given the Chicago Blackhawks some things to think about after only one preseason game.

If I were to guess, with three practices and five preseason games to go, Nylander has already created a compelling argument to see the season-opening ceremony in Prague.

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