Prospect Faceoff: Nylander debuts for Marlies, former teammates collide, other key matchups ahead

By David Hahn
William Nylander - Toronto Maple Leafs

Photo: Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander will make his official North American debut when he suits up for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies this weekend against former national team cohort Jacob de la Rose and the Hamilton Bulldogs (courtesy of Mark Spowart/Icon Sportswire)


The AHL’s Toronto Marlies will get a boost as William Nylander joins the squad for this weekend’s home-and-home against the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Nylander, the eighth overall selection of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2014 NHL Draft, will recognize a familiar face in the Bulldogs’ lineup as Montreal Canadiens prospect and Swedish teammate Jacob de la Rose will oppose him. While de la Rose has competed in North America this season, Nylander had been honing his craft with MODO of the SHL before joining Sweden’s U20 World Junior squad. Nylander will lean on fellow Swede and former MODO teammate Viktor Loov as he attempts to translate his success in Europe with the Marlies. The Marlies have been trending positively in the last few weeks, while the Bulldogs are hoping that Sven Andrighetto will pick up right where he left off before his recall to Montreal.

Nylander discusses his first North American action in this video.

This pair of games highlights a great weekend of hockey as we preview other top prospects going head to head in a new weekly feature.

Sticking with the former teammates theme, a pair of highly touted United States’ U20 graduates will face off this weekend as newly-minted Big Ten star of the week Dylan Larkin and the Michigan Wolverines take on Jack Dougherty and the Wisconsin Badgers. Larkin, a Michigan native and hometown selection of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2014 NHL Draft, rides a five-game point streak on the way to leading all Big Ten freshman in scoring. Dougherty, a second round selection of the Nashville Predators in the same draft, is looking to follow in the footsteps of former Wisconsin defensemen who have carved out professional careers. Wisconsin has had a rough 2014-15 season so far (2-13-3) while #16 Michigan (13-7-0) looks to sweep the season series.

Transitioning to junior hockey, the Quebec Remparts will play host to the Halifax Mooseheads as two pairs of elite offensive talents will go head-to-head. For Halifax, Winnipeg Jets‘ prospect Nikolaj Ehlers and, fresh off of a fine performance at the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, 2015 draft-eligible Timo Meier have made a fearsome tandem this season. Ehlers currently leads the QMJHL in points per game, with the talented Swiss native Meier not far behind. Dynamic offensive talent isn’t anything new to Quebec either, as they received a major injection of scoring prowess as Anthony Duclair of the New York Rangers was recently loaned back after his gold medal effort at the 2015 World Junior Championship. He joins Tampa Bay Lightning hopeful Adam Erne, who has paced the Remparts with 27 goals so far this season. Quebec will look to defend their home ice in what appears to be a high flying offensive showcase.

Since returning to the Kootenay Ice, Buffalo Sabres product Sam Reinhart has led by example and recently surpassed Ice alumni Jarret Stoll for first on the team’s all-time scoring list with 287 career points. Kootenay will have a test soon as they head into Edmonton where they will face the top goaltending prospect of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Tristan Jarry. A second round selection in 2013, Jarry was named the CHL Goaltender of the Week after a pair of 4-1 victories over Regina and Swift Current. Jarry has had a heavy workload again this season for a team trying to find their identity. This matchup will be an intriguing one to see how Jarry does against one of the premier pivots in the WHL in Reinhart.

Our last matchup to look at this week comes out of the OHL, as familiar faces will see each other in this game with a different agenda this time around. The last time Ottawa Senators prospect Nick Paul saw New York Islanders forward Michael Dal Colle, the two of them were battling for a roster spot on Canada’s World Junior team. This time around, Paul will be at the forefront of a stingy North Bay Battalion club who will try to slow down a bolstered Oshawa Generals squad leaning on Dal Colle, their leading scorer. The Generals were buyers at the trade deadline, acquiring Matt Mistele, Mike McCarron, and Brent Pedersen in separate deals to bolster an already potent offense. This game will be a fun one to watch as Paul and the Battalion will have to go head-to-head against one of the top offenses in the league.

Stay tuned next week as we take a detailed look at how these matchups turned out, as well as preview those upcoming head-to-head prospect encounters and more in this Prospect Faceoff feature.