2001-02: After a very strong 2000-01 season with Leksand in the junior league (42 points in 23 games) he was expected to establish himself with Leksand’s senior team in the 2nd-tier league the following season. However, Robert had some problems adjusting to the game and spent the 2001-02 mostly in the junior league, managing to score 31 points in 22 games that season.
2002-03: Because of his rather poor 2001-02 campaign he started out on the fourth line but Nilsson moved up to the third line and saw more ice time and immediately showed that he was capable of producing offensively. When the regular season was over Nilsson had broken Markus NÃ¤slund’s record for points (18 years and under) with 8 goals and 13 assists in 41 games. Those numbers made him also the highest scoring rookie of the year.
Nilsson was the most hyped prospect of all the 2003 draft eligible Swedes. He received extra attention due to the fact that he is the son of former NHL-star Kent Nilsson, currently a scout for the Edmonton Oilers. Nilsson was drafted 1st rd, 15th overall by the NY Islanders.
2005-06: Nilsson recorded 20 points in 53 games as a NHL rookie with the Islanders. The rest of the season he was on the farm in Bridgeport where he notched 28 points in 29 games.
2006-07: Despite his decent rookie campaign, Nilsson was cut from training camp without even a preseason appearance. In Bridgeport he led the Tigers in scoring with a point per game pace then was dealt to Edmonton with Ryan O’Marra and a 1st round pick in exchange for Ryan Smyth. Nilsson played 4 games with the Oilers, scored in his first, then played out the rest of the schedule in Wilkes-Barre.
Most experts agree that Nilsson is one of the most talented Swedish players since the Sedins and at draft time was on par with Peter Forsberg and Markus NÃ¤slund when they were Nilsson's age. It should be noted however that NÃ¤slund and especially Forsberg developed their games dramatically the year after they were drafted and Nilsson's development has come along slower.
Nilsson is extremely gifted offensively. He can do pretty much anything with the puck and combines a great skating technique with fine technical skills, excellent passes and tremendous hockey sense. He is more of a play-maker than a sniper but is still capable of putting the puck in the net.
While father Kent Nilsson wasn't really recognized as a physical player his son is actually quite fond of using his body. He likes to throw a good hit every game and plays with a lot of grit in the offensive zone. When comparing Nilsson to other young players his maturity and strength stands out. He is totally fearless out on the ice and plays well through traffic.
Looking at his weaknesses only one really stands out; his defensive game. Just like his father, Robert also prefers to play offense and his defensive coverage could definitely use some improvement.
Does Nilsson have the inner drive to be competitive on a nightly basis? Some say he doesn't and If he doesn't prove his critics wrong at the NHL level, he won't play.