The Toronto Maple Leafs forward has been undervalued for too long.
Ever noticed how the Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander has been one of the most undervalued players in the league, purely based on an unfounded bias, which is mostly created by former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock?
Really, think about it, more often then not, Nylander was put in Babcock’s doghouse making him somewhat of a regular there.
Everyone knew Babcock was hard on young talent, in his mind, probably with the best intentions. When the story leaked about how he threw Marner under the bus, we knew just how hard.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander
When it comes to the anti-Nylander bias, it should’ve begged the question why? Sadly, that question was never really answered if it was asked at all to begin with. It seemed most opted the easy way, jumping on the “Nylander is lazy” biased bandwagon, which really picked up steam once the young Swede sat out a portion of last season in a contract dispute.
Former Toronto Maple Leaf Connor Brown debunked that unfair bias while talking on the Connor Carrick podcast, talking about why the top players are so good, he said the following about Nylander:
He’s the probably the most laid-back guy I’ve ever met in my entire life. But have you ever seen a guy on the ice more than him in your life, right? I mean, he’s on the ice 25 minutes before practice, stick-handling through pucks he’s lined up.”
Drafted 8th overall at the 2014 NHL entry draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nylander was drafted as part of the rebuild initiated under Brendan Shanahan. He went on to mature during a stint in Sweden and in Canada with Toronto’s farm team the Toronto Marlies.
Earning his spot on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster in 2016, from there, he often showcased his true potential; a 20+ goal scorer with playmaking abilities and offensive zone entries that gives even the most veteran defenceman in the league nightmares.
After the 2017-2018 season where Nylander matched his rookie season in points (61), contract complications arose. Obviously, Nylander took the heat for it. It was assumed he was like his father, a greedy- me-first kind of person.
What followed was a broken season for Nylander, one he could, luckily, only bounce back from. (And one in which he was still worth 1.5 WAR, despite the low counting totals and near constant criticism).
With 31 goals and 28 assists for a combined 59 points in 68 games, he bounced back, silencing his critics. Honestly, the 31 goals and 59 points in total don’t even begin to tell the story of how important Nylander has been this season.
With his 31 goals at all strengths, Nylander ranks 15th in the league in goals. Of those ranked above him, only Mike Zibanejad and Nathan McKinnon have a lower annual contract value, talk about contract value. (stats per naturalstattrick and CapFriendly).
Nylander’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs
A player with Nylander’s skill set and capabilities don’t come along often, especially against his contract value. If the Toronto Maple Leafs have any sense harbored in management, he’s on top of their no-trade list. Yes, even above stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares.
With his proven ability to score goals in any kind of fashion, he’s become an even more valuable asset for the team, one Kyle Dubas should try to keep around at almost any cost.
Due to his team-friendly contract, he’s the Toronto Maple Leafs most valuable asset contract-wise.