Prospect Impressions: Alex Nylander shines, Milano brings Cleveland a championship, Top 5 plays of the year

By David Hahn
Connor McDavid - Edmonton Oilers

Photo: Edmonton Oilers rookie forward is one of three finalists for the 2015-16 Calder Trophy, which is presented to the NHL’s top rookie (courtesy of Chris LaFrance/Icon Sportswire)



The final Prospect Impressions of the year is finally here, and the top five plays of the 2015-16 season have arrived.

The Nylander name is a strong one, with a storied past that includes an NHL veteran, an NHL rookie, and a player sure to hear his name called early in the 2016 NHL Draft. But a most familiar name has provided the top individual effort in the now completed 2015-16 campaign.

Take a look at the rest of the top plays as Prospect Impressions draws to a fitting conclusion.

5. Alexander Nylander

Playing under his father, former NHL veteran Michael Nylander, who coaches with the Mississauga Steelheads, Alexander Nylander enjoyed a seamless transition to the OHL. He led all rookies with 75 points, setting a new Steelheads record for points by a rookie, which led to being the recipient of the Emms Family Award as OHL Rookie of the Year. He was also recognized in the Eastern Conference Coaches Poll as one of the league’s best players in the areas of stickhandling, shootout skills, and best shot.

He put those skills on display against the Barrie Colts earlier this year, finding some open ice and tucking the puck in. Like his older brother William, a prospect within the Toronto Maple Leafs system, he would be eligible to play in the AHL since he was loaned this year, adding to his draft intrigue.

4. Louke Oakley

Former Clarkson University forward Louke Oakley took his talents to Germany, where he has worked his way up through their ranks. Last season, Oakley scored 106 points in just 38 games in Germany’s third tier of professional hockey. Moving up to the DEL2 this year, Oakley produced 42 points in 43 games, including 21 goals.

Of those 21, this goal is one of the best, thanks in part to all the different elements of the game he put into this top play. Oakley’s hand-eye coordination is off the charts, making something spectacular out of a broken play.

3. Sonny Milano

Cleveland’s long-standing drought without a professional sports championship recently came to a conclusion, and Sonny Milano was a big part of that. Milano suited up for the Lake Erie Monsters, the new AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and put together a strong season. He finished with 14 goals and 17 assists in his first season in the AHL, but it is his strong playoff run and ridiculous spin-o-rama that got people in the industry talking.

Milano scored four goals en route to the Monsters’ Calder Cup championship, none prettier than this spinning backhand shot that found a way to sneak past Grand Rapids goaltender Tom McCollum. Milano is one of the most elusive forwards in the AHL, and if he has a quality training camp, could find himself in Columbus next season.

2. John Quenneville

Forever etched in Brandon Wheat Kings lore is “The Goal,” an unbelievable between-the-legs effort scored by John Quenneville. The fact that this one was scored on a breakaway, in the middle of the Memorial Cup, against one of the best teams in the junior hockey world is just astonishing. He scored 112 goals combined between the regular season and playoffs, and this goal clearly takes top billing in his career.

Joining fellow New Jersey Devils prospect Joseph Blandisi on Prospect Impressions top plays this year, Quenneville was a four-year veteran with Brandon. He will graduate from the Wheat Kings and will join the Devils organization next season.

1. Connor McDavid

It shouldn’t be a surprise by this point, but is there anything Connor McDavid can’t do? Shortly after returning from a freak injury, McDavid lined up against the Columbus Blue Jackets and took on almost everyone on the ice to score this stunning goal.

The fact that a goal of this caliber was scored against grown men who play professional hockey is just amazing. McDavid is a mesmerizing talent that brings fans out of their seats wherever he goes. The Edmonton Oilers are truly blessed, and we’re proud to feature this goal as our number one play of 2015-16!


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