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Defender Kylington 'feels ready' to make the jump to the NHL.

Looking at the Calgary Flames’ depth chart on defence, it’s easy to see that there’s a chance that one of the team’s young prospects can squeeze in. Oliver Kylington, for one, can do the math.

Swedish-Eritrean NHL draft Oliver Kylington.

Eritrean Hockey player, NHL Eritrea

“An interesting note on Kylington is that his mother is from Eritrea, a country in Africa. She fled to Sweden, escaping a 30 year civil war there when she was a teenager. Kylington’s parents met in Stockholm.”

“There’s a spot available,” pointed out the 21-year-old who is, still, technically a rookie after three full years with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Stockton. “And it’s a lot of work to get that spot. I feel ready. I’ve been training hard this summer and putting down a lot of grind in the gym and mentally preparing myself for this year and this camp. I’m really motivated and excited about this camp and this year.”

Training this off-season in Spain — his normal regimen — the smooth-skating, six-foot, 181-pounder arrived in Calgary with the same goal as a handful of the Flames’ blueline prospects that are finally ready to break into the NHL full-time.

Add him to the list with Rasmus Andersson, who is also a second-round pick from the 2015 NHL draft, who is on the team’s roster that will compete in the O.R.G. China Games starting next week. There’s also Dalton Prout, whom the organization thinks highly of, and Brett Kulak, who was the team’s sixth/seventh defenceman at the NHL level last season, in that mix.

But making things interesting and competitive is 19-year-old Juusso Valimaki, who’ll turn professional this season. Then, there’s Kylington.

The Stockholm, Sweden, native with an Eritrean mother believes he has gone through the growing pains of his early years playing in North America and is finally ready to make the jump.

“I feel really close,” he said. “I feel ready this year. I’ve been putting in a lot of work off-ice and preparing myself mentally. I think I know what I need to do to bring my game to the NHL level and I feel really comfortable and confident about it. I’m ready for the challenge.” His improvements have come at both ends of the ice, particularly defensively, which was the knock on the offensive-minded defenceman. Jumping into the play is his wheelhouse, and his skating ability has always allowed him to do so with ease. But it has, in the past, overcomplicated his gig.

He wants to be trusted, on both ends of the ice, to make smart decisions.

“I know what I can do on the ice and I know I can do a lot,” said Kylington, who had seven goals and 28 assists for 35 points in 62 AHL contests last season. “Sometimes when you know you can do a lot and you can do special things out there, you try to do it too often. So, I think more is less sometimes. “And I think that comes with experience.”

And he plans on displaying it this weekend at the Flames’ rookie training camp along with Sunday’s first pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers.

“I just feel more prepared this year,” Kylington said. “I feel I’m ready to make the team and I want to get a chance to show the management that I can do it.”

Article courtesy of the Calgary Sun.


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