So, the 2003 NHL Entry Draft is over. Sweden’s young star Robert Nilsson
is now NY Islanders property and his road to becoming an NHLer will be very
closely monitored the next few years. If everything goes according to plan, Nilsson
will join legends Tomas Jonsson, Stefan Persson and forward Anders Kallur that
were important players with the Islanders during the 70’s and 80’s.
“I know that Anders Kallur is a scout there, and the team is building up for a very strong team in the next
three years. I hope to make that team even better,” Nilsson said when asked about what he knew about the NY Islanders on draft day.
It was no surprise for Robert that the Islanders were looking to draft him. “I knew that they were interested, but it’s so hard to predict where it’s
going to end up, because there are so many good players. I knew I was going to be drafted 15-20, something
like that. It’s very fun, though, the most fun in my life, actually.”
Nilsson will most definitely have even more fun during his future career as
a hockey player. He is a rare talent and has already at the young age of 18
established himself as a very good elite league player. The fact that his father,
Kent Nilsson, was a huge star in the NHL and has a lot of good tips to give
Nilsson doesn’t hurt either. Some experts have even compared his game
to his father’s.
“I never saw my father play, but I’ve heard I’m like my father, but a little more physical, a little more nasty. If I’m going to compare myself to any player from Sweden, I think it’s Forsberg, but not as good on defense as he is. That’s what I think, and what I’ve heard.”
This is not the first time we hear Nilsson being compared to Avalanche star
Forsberg. They both share that exceptional hockey sense and control many aspects
of the game, although just like Nilsson said above, Peter was on another level
when it comes to defensive awareness, when he was Nilsson’s age. But the
great understanding of the game, the strong passing game, the grit and the determined
mind to win at all times are things they both have in common.
Despite Nilsson’s talent it would be foolish to say that there aren’t
certain elements in his game that could use some improvement. “My best aspect is my hockey sense; I read the play good. Some things I have to improve is my skating, and my defensive play.”
Nilsson’s skating ability hasn’t been a big concern for the scouts.
He is strong on his skates, has good balance but hasn’t got that extra
speed. His defensive game is however not what it could/should be. For those
of you that remember Robert’s father Kent Nilsson you all know that he
wasn’t at all fond of playing defense. Obviously it is a genetic thing
since the young Nilsson’s game is also a lot about offense.
It is safe to say that Robert Nilsson is currently the most talented Swedish
player out there. He is perhaps the only Swede with the potential to become
a player with the same status as Sweden’s current superstars; Forsberg,
Näslund, Sundin and Lidström. The road is long but if Nilsson remains healthy and has a good attitude we might
have a new Swedish star in four to six years.