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Alexander Nylander taking 'one step at a time'

Skilled forward prospect trying to make best impression at Sabres development camp

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Alexander Nylander's first day on the ice with the Buffalo Sabres was filled with fun and a lot of focus.

Nylander was selected by the Sabres with the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and took part in his first development camp at HarborCenter in Buffalo on Wednesday. For the forward, getting out onto the ice for the first time wearing Sabres colors was worth the wait.

"It's been a lot of fun," Nylander said. "I had all the testing today and it was a lot of fun going on the ice in the team jerseys."

The start of development camp may be fun for Nylander, but he came into it with a focus on the season ahead and trying to make the best impression on the Sabres and his teammates.

"This is one step," Nylander said. "I'm just trying to take it one step at a time. …This is very important since you've just been drafted [and you're] trying to get better as a player in this development camp because you first try to develop as much as possible here and learn from all the staff here that can help you with the upcoming season."

Video: Sabres draft F Alexander Nylander No. 8

The rigors and drills of camp weren't unfamiliar to Nylander after he watched his brother, Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander, go through something similar the past two years. The advanced scouting on Alexander's part helped him prepare for what was to come in his first time through.

"I've been expecting this," said Nylander, whose father, Michael Nylander, played in the NHL from 1992-2009. "This is what my brother went through with the [Maple Leafs] and he sort of taught me what development camp looks like and nothing happened that I haven't expected yet. It's been a lot of fun today."

Nylander is the only first-round pick at the development camp and was immediately the most notable player on the roster. His teammates knew he had a reputation as a skilled scorer.

"Obviously he's got great skill," Sabres forward Hudson Fasching said. "He's making plays out there today, you can kind of just tell if you pay a little extra attention to him that every puck he shoots it's crisp, [and] it's in a direction. He's aiming for a really small area and a lot of times it looks like he's hitting it. So you kind of look for the small details in a guy like that."

Nylander scored 28 goals and had 75 points in 57 games for Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League last season and impressed many with his ability to handle the puck and maneuver through traffic. Defensemen in Sabres development camp are more than aware of what Nylander can do.

"He's super skilled," defenseman Brendan Guhle said. "You've just got to have a good stick and watch the chest. You don't want to get your head buried in your feet or you're going to be looking the other way pretty soon. Good thing I don't have to play against him in the scrimmage."

Nylander has a few options of where he can play next season. He can return to Mississauga in the OHL, rejoin his Swedish Hockey League team Rogle BK, play for Rochester in the American Hockey League, or make the NHL roster. Nylander said he hasn't thought about where he'll be this season, but it's clear he wants to make it to the NHL as soon as possible.

"I'm just trying to show them I'm a hard worker, show my abilities out there and just try to show that I'm a good player and trying to, of course, make a spot for the upcoming season," Nylander said.

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