Nylander not focused on World Juniors right now

November 24, 2017

Alexander Nylander is back on the ice for the Rochester Americans after missing more than two months of action with a lower-body injury suffered at the Sabres Prospects Challenge.

In his fourth game of the 2017-18 season, Nylander scored his first goal of the season just 52-seconds into a 10-3 throttling of the Binghamton Devils at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. Nylander also registered an assist in a two-point effort against the New Jersey Devils' AHL affiliate.

This was the first goal of the game by Nylander with the assist to Nelson. pic.twitter.com/tW0W9B9SW0

— Let's Go Amerks (@LetsGoAmerks) November 25, 2017

While Nylander is just getting his feet back under him in Rochester, there are already some thoughts that he could be representing his country once again at the IIHF World Junior Championship this December in Buffalo.

Sabres general manager Jason Botterill joined Mike Schopp and the Bulldog from (716) Food and Sport on Friday, and said he is considering the thought of allowing Nylander to play for Team Sweden in Buffalo.

"He's still eligible to play, and it will be something that we look at with just how he performs over the next couple of weeks here," Botterill said. "From my perspective, I've always believed that the World Juniors is a great opportunity for young players to challenge themselves. It's always a great honor to represent your country, and challenge yourself against your fellow peers."

Buffalo's former first round pick (8th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft has played in the last two World Junior Championships for Sweden when the tournament was hosted in Finland in 2016 and Canada in 2017. In 14 games combined, Nylander has nine goals and 21 points, but has yet to win a medal for his country. Last year, Nylander finished tied for the lead in scoring with 12 points in seven games, and was also voted as a Media All-Star.

Back in August at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan, Team Sweden head coach Tomas Monten said in an interview with Amy Mortiz of The Buffalo News that he thought Nylander would be playing with the Sabres by the time the World Juniors rolled around on December 26.

“Of course if Buffalo wants him to play, we’re going to keep our door open. He for sure has a spot on our team but I think he’s going to make Buffalo this year. That’s why I didn’t bring him. We haven’t talked in the summer.

“Of course I’m going to ask Buffalo what they think. If he’s available, we’ll take him for sure but I don’t think he is. I think he’s going to play in Buffalo.”

With Nylander now playing in Rochester, that mentality may change for the Swedes, who will look to capture gold for the first time since 2012.

"[Sweden> has definitely shown interest, and they would absolutely love to have him on the team," Botterill said. "He was a huge part of their team last year, and if it's a situation if we were to loan him again this year he'd be a huge boost to their lineup."

When Botterill was asked if he was open to the idea of allowing Nylander to play in the World Juniors: "Without a doubt."

As for Nylander, the 19-year old winger is not currently thinking about playing for Sweden at this year's World Juniors. Nylander has not even gotten a sense of whether or not Sweden will ask him to play in Buffalo this winter.

"I don't really know yet. I'm just focusing on playing good here, and hopefully I'll earn a call up. Not thinking too much about the World Juniors right now," Nylander said following the win on Friday night.

Whether Nylander will play or not at the World Juniors this year, Amerks head coach Chris Taylor was fully supportive of the idea and feels this would be a great opportunity for the skilled, playmaking winger. 

"I think representing your country for that is great," Taylor said following Friday's win. "Especially since it's in Buffalo, it's great for the organization. I think it's great for everybody, great for him individually, and I think he will be great there. If they want him, I think we'll be talking about it and hopefully he gets to play."

Taylor also said that he has yet to be approached by anyone about loaning Nylander to Sweden for the tournament.

The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation will likely announce their World Junior selection camp roster some time in early December. That is likely when we will find out whether Sweden has interest in bringing in Nylander to play in his third World Junior Championship.