According to TSN, two players who were born in the Calgary region were selected in the first round of the 2014 National Hockey League Entry Draft in Philadelphia on Friday night. Calgary native William Nylander was drafted eighth overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs and High River native Conner Bleackley was drafted 23rd by the Colorado Avalanche.
Nylander, a center, is the son of former Calgary Flame Michael Nylander. William Nylander was born in Calgary on May 1, 1996 while Michael Nylander was spending his time with the Flames' organization from 1993-1996.
Even though William Nylander was born in Calgary, he was raised in Stockholm, Sweden. Since 2011, Nylander has played for Sodertalje SK, Modo Hockey Ornskoldsvik and Rogle BK in Sweden. While with Sodertalje SK this past season, William Nylander actually played with his father Michael in HockeyAllsvenskan, the second highest professional hockey league in Sweden.
While wih Sodertalje SK, William Nylander had 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points while playing right wing. He also had six penalty minutes and was a +2 in 17 regular season games. According to Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star, Nylander has the speed and the shot to play in the National Hockey League right now.
Bleackley, a center with the Red Deer Rebels, was the Rebels captain this past year. The fact that he was named captain at only the age of 17 shows his strong maturity. In 71 games this past season for Red Deer, Bleackley who was born in High River (forty minutes south of Calgary), led the Rebels with 29 goals and 68 points. He will be a strong contender to represent Canada at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship in Toronto and Montreal.
Interestingly as well, Bleackley grew up a huge Colorado Avalanche fan. His favourite player growing up was Colorado Avalanche star Joe Sakic, who is now the Avalanche vice president of hockey operations.