Weight: 220 lbs
Birthdate: March 19th, 1990 (21 years old)
Birthplace: Lulea, Sweden
Acquired: Draft, Round 3, 62nd overall, 2009 NHL Entry Draft
2010-2011 Team: Lulea (Swedeish Elite League)
2010-2011 Stats: 31 GP - 1.92 GAA - .918 SV PCT (Playoffs: 13 GP, 1.96 GAA, .931 SV PCT)
2011-2012 Team: Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Team Role: Second String Goaltender
Last year: Nilsson exceeded all expectations last year in the SEL, putting up outstanding numbers both in the regular season and playoffs. His 1.92 GAA in the regular season was the best in the entire league, a league that is comprised mostly of players older than he is. Although Lulea did not eventually end up winning the championship despite their strong season, behind Nilsson's 31 games, Lulea proved to be a force in a very competitive league. Nilsson's quickness and abilities considering his large body impressed all in the league and led to him signing his ELC before the deadline with the Islanders organization.
Expectations: Nilsson will be joining a very packed out goalie system in Bridgeport, with Mikko Koskinen and Kevin Poulin both having slots last season. However, with the injury bug hitting so many goaltenders last year, better safe than sorry. While it is possible that the team will rotate the 3 goalies, one may end up going to the ECHL, unfortunately. With a healthy Kevin Poulin and newcomer Nilsson in the pipes splitting games, Bridgeport seems to have a decision most teams would love to have: which of our 2 incredible goalies do we start with? Nilsson will undoubtedly have to adjust to the North American game, but once he finds his groove he should be a very worthy second string goaltender. This is all assuming Koskinen doesn't have a better camp of course, but as of right now it seems as if Poulin and Nilsson are the top 2 goaltenders on the Bridgeport depth chart. With a revitalized defense and increased production from the additions made in the offseason, Nilsson should have a very solid team to help him keep the puck out of the net.
Projections: 32 GP - 20 W - 12 L - 2.32 GAA - .910 SV PCT
AT: Nilsson was yet another goalie picked (along with Poulin and Koskinen) because of the uncertainty of the future of Rick DiPietro. With what he's shown so far, it's hard not to be tempted to push him further and further up the depth chart. For once, the Isles have really solid depth down in Bridgeport in goal, and considering Nilsson is older and has played with players older than him, could even be called up to the NHL if absolutely necessary - although let's pray it never is. Nilsson should split a good bulk of the games with Poulin, with Poulin getting the majority to prep him for the NHL next year. One (or both) of these goalies are definitely in the future of the Islanders, and I for one can not wait to see them blossom into the outstanding players we know they are.
CH: Nilsson was one of the top goalies in the SEL for Lulea last season, so it's reasonable to assume that he could put in a solid year for the Sound Tigers at the very least. The leagues are somewhat similar in talent, so really this should be an adjustment to get accustomed to the North American game. Watching Nilsson play at the prospect camp and scrimmage, you can see the talent this player has. He is huge in net, extremely quick and agile, and very smart. Casey Cizikas was amazed at how good he was - after the skills competition he went back to the bench saying "wow." It's very reasonable to put Poulin and Nilsson at the same tier of goaltending, which will make for a great competition. As it stands, he is one of the goalies of the Islanders future. But he needs to get started at the AHL first.