Columbus Blue Jackets 2023-2024 Player Review: Alex Nylander

The first 7 years of his hockey career have not gone as planned for Alex Nylander. He has struggled to reach the potential that so many saw in him. Has his emergence for the Blue Jackets put his career back on track?
Colorado Avalanche v Columbus Blue Jackets
Colorado Avalanche v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

Originally drafted 8th overall in 2016 by the Buffalo Sabres, Nylander has had trouble becoming an established NHL player. He has played for a total of 4 NHL organization and has struggled to find his footing in the league.

After starting the season within the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, Nylander only played 5 games for the Penguins and registered 0 points. Then on February 22, the Blue Jackets traded Emil Bemstrom to the Penguins in exchange for a 6th round pick and Alex Nylander.

At the time, the trade appeared to more about Bemstrom, who needed a change of scenery. From the surface, Nylander appeared to be an “add-in” on the trade in order to make the cap situation work for the Penguins.

Very little was expected of Nylander in Columbus. But he came to Columbus and opened a lot of eyes.

From his arrival, Nylander looked like a player reborn. He scored 11 goals and 15 points in 23 games with the Blue Jackets. He was one of the better offensive players for the team down the stretch.

He battled some minor injuries in the final few weeks of the season, which slowed his offensive pace a bit.  But overall, he looked like the player who was drafted 8th overall in 2016.

Could Alex Nylander finally be reaching the potential? Could he finally be establishing himself as an NHL player? It’s a small sample size, so the answer is still unclear. Only time will tell.

Nylander will be a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the CBJ can re-sign him if they so desire. When the trade for Nylander originally occurred, many believed that the Blue Jackets would let Nylander test free agency in the summer.

However, after his performance with the club, I have to believe that the new general manager will want to sign Nylander. He probably won’t receive a long-term contract. Probably a 1 or 2 year “prove it” type contract. Management will want to make sure that his success can be sustained before committing to him.

Look for Nylander to be in competition to be a middle six winger next season.

Alex Nylander 2023-2024 Season Grade. A. Final season stats (with CBJ): 23 games played, 11 goals, 4 assists, 15 points, 6 PIM, -1, 62 shots on goal. . Alex Nylander 2023-2024 Season Grade

Nylander deserves nothing less than an A for all that he accomplished with the CBJ since the trade with Pittsburgh. He was one of the better goal scorers for the team and showed the 5th line why he was originally a top draft pick.

The only reason he doesn’t get an A+ is because all his success was in the final quarter of the season. He needs to show that he can be this prolific for an entire NHL season.