On the surface, Nilsson’s .923 save percentage from last year looks good, but a deeper dive into his numbers reveals a Jekyll-and-Hyde split between his performances at home and on the road. He went 7-1-1 with a .938 save percentage in Buffalo, but 3-9-3 with a .911 save percentage everywhere else. However, that was still enough for Vancouver to bring him on with a two-year, $5 million deal to back up Jacob Markstrom. Nilsson has not shown that he can be a reliable No. 1, but he may get the chance if Markstrom struggles or suffers an injury. Regardless, his upside will be capped on a Vancouver team that isn't expected to be a serious contender.
Nilsson hasn’t fared very well during his brief stops with the Islanders, Oilers and Blues; in 52 career NHL appearances, has a woeful .900 save percentage and 3.09 GAA. The Sabres have a few promising goaltenders in the system, but none of them are ready for the big time. Nilsson is likely a temporary solution, but his track record suggests he’s never been able to solve NHL shooters and won’t see much action until he earns the team’s trust. He’s lanky and covers a lot of the net, but seems to have trouble reading and reacting to the speed of the play, so the 26-year-old will need a good showing in training camp to solidify his status as the team’s current backup. That said, the Swede took a star turn in the KHL two years ago, so there's potential here.
Don’t look now, but Nilsson could become the backup goalie in Oil Country, replacing Ben Scrivens. And if it doesn’t happen right out of camp, it could come before the season is too old. The Oil acquired his rights from the Blackhawks and promptly signed him to a one-year, one-way deal for $1 million. His overall NHL numbers -- 9-9-0, 3.05 GAA, and .898 save percentage -- don’t inspire confidence. But he played much better in the KHL in 2014-15, turning in a 20-9-8 record with a 1.71 GAA and .936 save percentage in 36 games. Sure, it's a lesser league, but Nilsson looked every part of the profile of today’s money goalies. His size (6-foot-5, 227 pounds), raw skill, and age means he could be a true diamond in the rough. Watch the battle in camp carefully.
Nilsson played pretty awfully when given a chance to start last season. Seeing the writing on the wall that he was going to be playing in the AHL this season, Nilsson elected to sign a contract and play in the KHL.
Nilsson posted subpar numbers last season in the AHL but is still currently third on the depth chart for the organization. A strong camp for Nilsson and a weak one by Kevin Poulin could find Nilsson on Long Island in October but more than likely he will be the first goaltender called up should Poulin or Evgeni Nabokov suffer an injury.
Nilsson is currently second or third on the Isles depth chart behind Evgeni Nabokov, but is certainly a young netminder to monitor. Nilsson recorded a 1-2-1 record in four starts and a shutout last season while with the big club. Depending upon how this season goes for the Islanders, either Nilsson or Kevin Poulin could be ready to take over the reigns as starting goalie as early as the 2013-14 campaign. Remember his name in keeper leagues and expect him to see a few starts if the Isles suffer any injuries to their netminders.
At 6-foot-5 and 220-pounds, Nilsson is a huge netminder, but also athletic and agile. The Islanders are loaded in net and Nilsson has little to no chance of playing for the Isles this season. Even a starting job in Bridgeport of the AHL is unlikely as that may be Kevin Poulin's job.
Nilsson was the Islanders third round choice in the 2008 draft. A curious move by the Isles as they have Rick DiPietro under contract until the end of time and drafted a goalie in the second round of that draft as well. Nilsson still could make the NHL next season if he performs well and/or DiPietro continues his history of injury problems.
Taken in the third round of the 2009 Entry Draft, Nilsson is a big netminder the Islanders will wait to develop and adapt to North American hockey. He is expected to return to Sweden for the 2009-10 season.