Top prospects out to make names for themselves
TORONTO -- Swedish forward William Nylander, a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft, knows how lucky he is to have a wealth of hockey information and advice at his fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Not only did his father, Michael Nylander, play 920 NHL games with seven teams in 15 seasons, but the younger Nylander also was given an opportunity to skate alongside his father with Rogle in Sweden's second division this season.
William had four goals and eight points in 18 games with his father before moving to Modo in the Swedish Hockey League. The elder Nylander had three goals and nine points in 25 games with Rogle this season.
"It was fun and we were on the same line," William Nylander told NHL.com. "I would sometimes pass to him and he would miss the open net and he would pass to me and I'd miss the net and we'd get mad at each other, but it was fun. We talked about hockey stuff all night."
William is one of nine players participating at the NHL Scouting Combine this week that has a father with NHL playing experience.
He is joined by right wing Kasperi Kapanen (son of Sami Kapanen) of KalPa in Finland, Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart (Paul Reinhart), Portland Winterhawks center Dominic Turgeon (Pierre Turgeon), Sherbrook Phoenix center Daniel Audette (Donald Audette), center Ryan Donato (Ted Donato) of the Dexter School in Massachusetts, Kitchener Rangers center Ryan MacInnis (Al MacInnis), Barrie Colts left wing Brendan Lemieux (Claude Lemieux) and Plymouth Whalers defenseman Josh Wesley (Glen Wesley).
"He's told me things I don't think many other players get to hear," William Nylander said. "Maybe players who had former NHL players as fathers have heard similar things. We have a good advantage in that way."
The elder Nylander was drafted by the Hartford Whalers in the third round (No. 59) of the 1991 draft and played for the Whalers, Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers.
William is projected to be an early first-round pick at the 2014 draft, to be held June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. He is No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible international skaters. He has 25 interviews with teams this week prior to his fitness testing Saturday at the Toronto International Centre.
2014 NHL COMBINE
"To me it's amazing, since you see it more and more where sons are following in dad's footsteps," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "Obviously it's been a fun career. They've seen their fathers have good lives and dad know what it takes, so that advice, motivation is all there.
"So combine that and these kids are going to be ahead in the game; that's a good start."
Here's a look at the other top prospects with familiar last names and great pedigrees making their marks at the Scouting Combine this week:
Kasperi Kapanen: Sami Kapanen played 12 seasons in the NHL after being selected by the Whalers in the fourth round (No. 87) of the 1995 draft. The younger Kapanen, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of international players, had seven goals and 14 points in 47 games alongside his father on Kalpa in Finland's Liiga.
Sam Reinhart: In his third full season in the Western Hockey League with Kootenay, Reinhart finished fourth in the league with 105 points (36 goals, 69 assists) in 60 regular-season games. Ranked No. 3 on Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, Reinhart has 101 goals, 254 points and a plus-52 rating in 203 regular-season games.
He's also the youngest of three hockey-playing brothers. Oldest brother Max plays for the Calgary Flames and middle brother Griffin was taken by the New York Islanders with the fourth pick of the 2012 draft.
"Over the years all of us talked to my dad after every game," Sam Reinhart said. "He [Paul] would give us advice. Max and Griffin went through the same things I am going through, so being able to watch them has had a huge positive influence on my career; it's nice having both of them."
Dominic Turgeon: The 6-foot-2, 198-pound left-hand shot made a significant move on Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters, jumping 33 spots to No. 97 in April. He's the son of Pierre Turgeon, taken by the Buffalo Sabres with the first pick of the 1987 draft. Pierre spent 19 seasons in the League with the Sabres, Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche, finishing with 515 goals and 1,327 points in 1,294 career games.
"He's always been my idol since I was a little kid," Dominic Turgeon said. "Watching him play, I've always loved it, and I guess at some point when I was younger I did try and play my game like him as a puck-protecting guy trying to play behind the net and stuff. But we are two different types of players; he was an unbelievable player though."
Dominic had 10 goals and 31 points in 65 WHL games this season, his second with Portland.
Daniel Audette: As the son of forward Donald Audette, who had 260 goals in 735 games spanning 14 seasons in the League with the Sabres, Los Angeles Kings, Atlanta Thrashers, Canadiens, Stars and Florida Panthers, he learned valuable lessons growing up.
"He told me that you always have to work harder than everyone if you want to have a career in hockey, because everyone wants to play hockey but not everyone gives all the effort," Daniel said of his father. "He taught me that you have to give it your all every night."
Daniel, No. 75 on Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, closed his second Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season with Sherbrooke with 21 goals and 76 points in 68 games.
Ryan MacInnis: The one major difference between Ryan MacInnis and his father is Ryan hopes to star as a center and Al earned a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame for what he did in 23 seasons as an NHL defenseman.
The elder MacInnis, who won the 1989 Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 1999 James Norris Memorial Trophy as the League's top defenseman, played in 1,416 career games with the Flames and Blues. He was selected by the Calgary Flames in the first round (No. 15) in 1981.
Ryan, No. 20 on Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, had 16 goals and 37 points in 66 OHL games for Kitchener.
"Dad says the secret to a good shot is using all of your body and just laying into it," Ryan said. "Flex that stick as much as possible; just let the stick do the work. He said to just keep practicing it and you'll get the habit down because it's like muscle memory."
Ryan Donato: The 6-foot, 174-pound left-shot center is following the path his father Ted took to the NHL. The younger Donato has dominated the prep school hockey ranks in Massachusetts, as his father did, and in 2015-16 likely will attend Harvard University, the college his father graduated from and where he currently coaches the men's hockey team.
"I really try to take his work ethic more than anything," Ryan said of his father. "He was one of the hardest workers off the ice and I think that's one thing I try to take, his drive to compete and succeed. My dad knows my dream is to be a hockey player and not necessarily attend Harvard. Harvard, which is also a dream, but pro hockey is a bigger dream. The one thing he said was to do what I want to do with my life and live out my dreams."
Ryan, No. 58 on Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, had 37 goals and 78 points in 30 games at the Dexter School in Brookline, Mass. He has yet to decide where he'll play next season, whether he'll remain at Dexter for his senior season or play for the Omaha Lancers in the United States Hockey League.
Brendan Lemieux: Lemieux has proven to be very similar in playing style to his father. The No. 28-ranked skater on Central Scouting's final North American list had 27 goals, 53 points and 145 penalty minutes in 65 OHL games in 2013-14.
Claude Lemieux, who ranks ninth in NHL history with 80 goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, won the Stanley Cup four times (1986, 1995, 1996, 2000) and the Conn Smythe Trophy with the New Jersey Devils in 1995. He spent 22 seasons in the NHL with the Devils, Canadiens, Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes, Stars and San Jose Sharks. He was drafted by the Canadiens in the second round (No. 26) in 1983.
"Dad gave me a lot of insight into what I might be going through at a particular time, whether it's rough patches, points, getting points or staying humble," Brendan Lemieux said. "There are all sorts of different things he's been able to teach me. The most important, though, is keeping a good work ethic."
Josh Wesley: Glen Wesley spent 20 seasons in the League as a defenseman with the Bruins, Whalers, Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 when he served as an alternate captain. The Bruins selected him with the third pick of the 1987 draft.
Josh, No. 111 on Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, had two goals, nine points and 62 penalty minutes in his first season with Plymouth. The prior season he played with the United States National Team Development Program under-17 team.
"Josh moves the puck well and plays a lot like his dad," former Plymouth coach Mike Vellucci said. "The only difference is he's a right-handed shot instead of left-handed. He's played among our top four and played well."
Vellucci was named assistant general manager and director of hockey operations by the Hurricanes in April, while Wesley is the Hurricanes' director of defenseman development, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Josh Wesley selected by the organization in June.