Toronto Maple Leafs Year in Review: 2019-20 Season Awards

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 25: Nikita Zaitsev #22, John Tavares #91, Zach Hyman #11, Auston Matthews #34, Mitch Marner #16, William Nylander #29, and Andreas Johnsson #18 of the Toronto Maple Leafs sit on the bench while playing the Florida Panthers during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on March 25, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 25: Nikita Zaitsev #22, John Tavares #91, Zach Hyman #11, Auston Matthews #34, Mitch Marner #16, William Nylander #29, and Andreas Johnsson #18 of the Toronto Maple Leafs sit on the bench while playing the Florida Panthers during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on March 25, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON – OCTOBER 2: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs . (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Most Improved Players – William Nylander/Justin Holl

William Nylander

Although this is not a formal award given out to NHL players, if there was anyone in the NHL who were to get it, it would be William Nylander.

Nylander faced some over-the-top criticism last season after a long standoff with Leafs management resulted in a six year extension with an AAV of $6.9 million.

Despite strong peripheral numbers, Nylander posted a mere 27 points through 50 games in the 2018-19 season.

Nylander silenced many of his doubters this year after becoming arguably Toronto’s best offensive option for a good portion of the NHL season. Nylander scored 59 points through 68 games, which included a career-high 31 goals, and was on pace for a 71 points, yet another career-high.

One of the major criticisms that has followed William Nylander, and a lot of the younger stars in the NHL, is their inability to be defensively responsible.

This was just yet another part of Nylander’s game that changed immensely this season, as he had the lowest on-ice scoring chances against of any top six forward on the Maple Leafs (487), and was the fourth-lowest on the team in GA/60 (2.81).

The 2019-20 season was a great bounce back year for William Nylander.

Justin Holl

Justin Holl gets my honourable mention for this award as well due to his impact seemingly coming out of nowhere. Just one season ago Holl played 11 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs and was a healthy scratch for majority of the year.

Holl had a tremendous offseason and he put himself in a position where the Maple Leafs couldn’t help but give him a shot as a top four defensemen, and he has thrived with that opportunity.

While only putting up 18 points this season, Holl was one of the most reliable players on the Leafs when it came to playing in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill.

One of the best managerial decisions the Maple Leafs have made this season has been extending Justin Holl in late December to a three year deal with an AAV of $2 million, which will likely become a bargain as his career progresses.

Next. The Toronto Maple Leafs Top 5 Off-Season Priorities. dark

These awards show one major pattern throughout; a good portion of the value that comes with this Toronto Maple Leafs team is young. The coming seasons will bode well for the development of this young core, and will contribute to their long competitive window for the years to come.