Toronto Maple Leafs: William Nylander Has Become One of the NHL’s Best Players

The Toronto Maple Leafs are being rewarded for their faith in William Nylander.

First, it was that the Toronto Maple Leafs would never be able to sign their “big three” after they signed John Tavares.  The mainstream media covering the Leafs traded him about six thousand times during the aftermath of the Tavares contract.

Nylander held out, and ended up settling for a six year contract with just-under a seven million dollar cap hit.

He struggled in the first month of his return to the lineup, and almost everyone bailed on him.  It didn’t matter how good he played for the rest of the season (leading the NHL in on-ice scoring chances per minute, and posting great peripheral stats).

It didn’t matter in the playoffs when he took the role of third line centre and continued to make the Leafs better than their opposition whenever he was on the ice.

The mainstream media – who decide the narratives most fans buy into – said he was a bad player, and they continued to point out all his mistakes, ignore he great stats, and complain that the goals and assists weren’t there.  (They were suppressed by bad luck in his individual and on-ice shooting percentage).

Toronto Maple Leafs Nylander This Season

Nylander is having a bounce back season only in terms of luck (last year his stats were actually quite amazing after he’d been back for one month).

The superstar winger has 25 goals in 54 games which is a pace equal to 38 goals.  His 5v5 2.53 points per 60 ranks him 13th in the NHL among players who’ve played at least 700 minutes.

Nylander is tied for fifth in 5v5 goals (10th overall) and 16th in 5v5 points.

But that isn’t all.

Nylander – called “soft” by his worst and least informed critics – is among the NHL’s leaders in goals from in close to the net.  This is (I shouldn’t have to even say) something a soft player could not achieve.

Nylander’s 55% Corsi is 21st among all forwards (600 minutes) in the NHL.

This makes him an elite play driver.  He’s among the best zone entry and exit players in the league as well.

With Nylander on the ice, the Toronto Maple Leafs gets 55% of the shots, which is 19th in best among NHL forwards.

53% goals-for, 55% scoring chances-for, 54% expected-goals.

He’s doing all this with an on-ice shooting percentage of 8.26% which ranks him 107th among all forwards who’ve played 600 minutes.

Nylander’s PDO is under 100, so he’s not even getting lucky yet.

The statistics do not lie: whether looking at traditional goals and assists, or looking at advanced stats, William Nylander is one of the best players in the NHL.

He is the kind of player who can compete for an Art Ross trophy one day. An future all-star and the kind of player who suits up for international tournaments.

The best move Kyle Dubas has made in his tenure as the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager is to ignore the critics and keep William Nylander in the fold.  (All stats

Next: Toronto Maple Leafs Myth Busters

His $6.9 million cap hit is a joke. It’s now one of the NHL’s most team friendly contracts.  If Nylander was a free agent after this year, he’d be asking (and getting) $11 million dollars per season.


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