TORONTO - It may take time for the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander to get used to North America's physical style of hockey.
It's a different story off the ice, where Nylander's roommate is making sure he enjoys some of the comforts of his native Sweden.
Nylander will make his highly anticipated American Hockey League debut Friday when the Toronto Marlies visit the Hamilton Bulldogs. His adjustment to life in Canada has been made easier by Marlies rookie defenceman and fellow Swede Victor Loov, who is living with Nylander in Toronto.
"He's cooking food and that kind of stuff all the time so it makes my life easy," said Nylander, the Leafs' 2014 first-round pick. "Swedish meatballs. I've been here now three days, had Swedish meatballs like seven times so it's good."
It has been a whirlwind month for Nylander, who began January playing at the world junior hockey championship in Toronto. Nylander led Sweden with 10 points in the seven games as the Swedes finished a disappointing fourth after cruising through the preliminary round with a perfect 4-0-0 record.
Following the tournament, Nylander returned to Sweden and appeared in two games with Modo of the Swedish Hockey League before being summoned by the Maple Leafs to join the AHL's Marlies.
"We like what we've seen from William through the first half of the year and through the world juniors," Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas said last week. "Now it's an opportunity for him to come over and get acclimatized to playing in North America."
The Leafs had to make a decision on Nylander before Jan. 16. After that he would have needed to remain in Sweden for the rest of the season before being eligible to come to North America.
Nylander, who made a switch to centre this season, will likely start Friday on the wing alongside Greg McKegg and Spencer Abbott.
"For him it's about getting back in to the scheme of things and how we do things here as a group and our systems," said Marlies coach Gord Dineen. "We have a group that's really bought in lately and we're playing a pretty strong team game.
"We want him to be a part of that and add to it with his skills."
For Nylander, who had eight goals and 20 points in 21 games with Modo this season, the biggest adjustment will be the smaller ice surface.
"It's been good. Getting into it. Getting used to the time difference and everything so it's good," he said. "It felt like you had more time out there (on the big ice) so it was good. It was different, but now I'm back here and already half adjusted to the ice.
"For me, it's just the first time when you get on the North American ice it's a bit different, but then after maybe 2-3 days, you're used to it so it doesn't really take that much time to adjust to."
Nylander will have to adjust to how and where handles the puck. At the world juniors, playing against his own age group, the 18-year-old was able to cut through the middle of the ice at high speeds and not get hit. That will change in the AHL.
"I think that's one of the aspects of his game that we want him to improve upon," said Dubas. "I think at the world juniors you see he does put himself in positions with the puck where he gets run at and hit a lot. It's not going to take long to take some hits from men where he's going to know not to do it again."
Loov, a teammate of Nylander's for parts of three seasons in Sweden, said the teenager will have to make adjustments.
"On the ice, it's a totally different game here. It's more about positioning. Not running around so much in the defensive zone," said Loov, 22, who has 11 points and a plus-5 rating in 38 games this season. "It was a big adjustment, but I'm working on it."
He also had some words of advice for his countryman.
"Don't hold on to the puck too much cause the guys easily close gaps, that's the biggest thing," Loov said. "Heads up because people can run over him, because he's not the biggest guy so heads up and move your feet."
Off the ice, Loov is happy to have someone around who laughs at his jokes.
"He's a little bit younger than me, you can notice that," Loov said. "He's not that mature, but he's just 18. He's funny, he likes my jokes, that's the best thing. We just play video games as usual. Then we hang out with other Swedes. Going for dinner. Went to the movies the other day (American Sniper). It was OK. Some of the guys thought it was a really good movie, but nah, just OK."
Nylander has added motivation to succeed in North America after watching his good friend and Czech native David Pastrnak get recalled by the Boston Bruins following the world juniors. Pastrnak registered four goals and an assist in seven games prior to the NHL all-star break.
"The work he's put in, he deserves to be there," said Nylander. "We're really close buddies back home so I mean seeing him score makes me happy and inspires me to keep working and hopefully one day I'll get the chance. Even if it's not this year, maybe next year. That's your goal."