There hasn’t been very much time for Alex Nylander to reflect on his new position in life since being drafted in the first round by the Sabres on June 24. His focus switched immediately to school – he had exams the following week – and then to joining his new teammates at development camp.
In the meantime, he's been skating alone for the most part since his season ended with Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League. That made for quite the step up in pace when the eighth overall pick took the ice for his first practice session of camp at HARBORCENTER on Wednesday afternoon.
"It was high tempo since I've been skating most of time alone," Nylander said. "It was a bit different. I enjoyed it. I just can't wait for tomorrow's practice."
The change in tempo didn’t stop his offensive skill from making a strong first impression from the other players in his practice session. Even a guy like Hudson Fasching, who's played games in the NHL, took notice.
"He's got great skill," Fasching said. "You can kind of just tell if you pay a little extra attention to him that every puck he shoots, you know it's crisp, it's in direction. He's aiming for a really small area and a lot of times it looks like he's hitting it.
Nylander's goal at development camp, he says, is to learn as much as possible about being a pro. That, in turn, will pay dividends towards him reaching his next goal, which is to play in the NHL. So during his week-long stay, he'll be sure to make the most out of his resources.
"There's a lot of staff here that you can go to," he said. "They can also talk to you that help you prepare too, of course."
He also has the advantage of having two teammates from Mississauga alongside him. He had classes with Austin Osmanski, a local product who was selected by the Sabres in the seventh round. Daniel Muzito-Bagenda, a fellow winger, went undrafted but signed a deal with the Rochester Americans.
"It helps," Nylander said. "It's a lot of fun having teammates here of course. Osmanski and I, we'd always hang out with each other because we also have school with each other. He's a funny guy. Daniel is also from Sweden so we knew each other a bit coming into Mississauga and we've always been friends."
It's possible they'll be teammates in Rochester next year. Playing for the Amerks is one of several options for Nylander, which also include going back to Mississauga, playing in Sweden or, if everything breaks just right, joining the Sabres as a first-year pro.
He's already expressed his willingness to go into any situation that the organization sees as the best option, but that doesn’t mean his goals aren’t high.
"My goal is to make the NHL next year," Nylander said.
Reaching that goal will take an impressive training camp and maybe even some success in the AHL. But it begins this week at development camp, and Nylander still has five more days to learn all he can before his focus shifts forward again.