Oliver Kylington patiently waited for his moment. The Calgary Flames seized theirs.
Trading picks No. 76 and 83 to move up to the 60th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, Flames general manager Brad Treliving announced Kylington as Calgary’s second pick of the day.
“I’m so happy,” Kylington told CalgaryFlames.com. “I was a bit nervous up in the stands there, but now I’m so happy.”
So too are the Flames.
“He’s an interesting player,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said. “Prior to the start of the year, this guy’s talked about as one of the top players in the draft. He’s an elite skater. He’s as good a skater as there is in the draft. Now we’ve got to refine his game.”
Kylington’s journey is a unique one that will be celebrated with his parents, as well as two of his closest friends.
His mother fled a civil war in Eritrea when she was a teenager and found refuge in Sweden. His father didn’t play organized hockey but was a fan. Instead, he focused on other sports, including handball.
Kylington played hockey, soccer and floorball growing up before ultimately deciding on hockey.
“My dad loved hockey,” he said. “He wasn’t so good playing hockey, but he loved hockey and loved watching it. He introduced me to the sport and I loved it. He played handball in Sweden, it’s a big sport in Sweden. My mom didn’t play any sports. I think Dad had a lot of influence when it came to hockey.”
Kylington showed patience in the pick.
He was first among European skaters in Central Scouting’s mid-term ranking and sixth in their final ranking. He split the 2014-15 season between Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League and AIK of Sweden’s second division. With Farjestad, the 6-foot, 185-pound defenceman recorded two goals and five points in 18 games, and added four goals and seven points in 17 games with AIK.
Kylington also played 10 games with Farjestad’s junior team, registering four goals and seven points in 10 appearances.
The native of Stockholm admitted his season was up-and-down.
“At first, I think I played good, but I didn’t get the ice time that I deserved, I think,” Kylington said. “Then I went to AIK and had a very good time there and player very well there. I grew a lot as a person there. I got an injury the last game there before the World Juniors, so that was hard for me. It was hard to come back from that.
“Then I came back from the injury and played some games from AIK, then I got a call back from Farjestad who wanted me to play there. When I played I played good, but I didn’t have luck with the injury.”
The injury was a down moment for Kylington, who also represented Sweden at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
He sustained an injury during an exhibition game against Canada at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa prior to the start of the tournament and was unable to participate.
“It was so hard,” said Kylington, who likens his style to Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators. “It was the hardest trip back home I ever did. It was not fun to sit in an airplane back home to Sweden from Canada. I wanted to play in that tournament so bad. It wasn’t so fun to leave the team and the guys. I’m leaving that now and hopefully play in the World Juniors this year.”
In 2013-14, Kylington became the youngest player, at 16 years, four months and 10 days, to score a goal in SHL history after netting the game-winner in his Farjestad debut.
He’s already imaging a similar debut with the Flames.
“It’s huge to be a part of the Calgary Flames,” he started, “and it’s going to be fun.”