Toronto Maple Leafs: Has William Nylander Surpassed Mitch Marner?

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 10: William Nylander
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 10: William Nylander /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently in a Stanley Cup Playoffs position, with the sixth best record in the NHL. A big part of their success has been thanks to the success of 25-year-old William Nylander.

There is no question that the Toronto Maple Leafs star winger has been excellent this season. However, it is worth a look to compare Nylander to another forward on the team, Mitch Marner.

Nylander and Marner are already linked thanks to each of them being a part of the big four whose sum of their salaries occupy 49.7-percent of the salary cap. Nylander and Marner, who are only a year apart in age, also both famously had aggressive contract negotiations with General Manager Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Marner is the higher paid athlete, receiving his $10,903,000 per year deal after coming off a 94 point season.  Marner also hasn’t played a full season like he did in 2018-19 when he recorded 26 goals and 67 assists. Statistically, his best season was last year when he played 55 games and averaged 0.36 goals and 0.85 assists, for a total of 1.22 points per contest.

Nylander, who is now playing on a $6,962,366 AAV, earned his deal after a 61 point campaign that also saw him play a full 82 games. At the time of both his and Marner’s contract signings, there was no doubt that Marner was a bigger star and more of a blue chip player than Nylander.

This year, Nylander is playing the best hockey of his career and his coach has taken notice. Sheldon Keefe has increased his star’s ice time to the highest it’s ever been and giving him a greater opportunity on the powerplay. Nylander’s presence is undeniable. He has been a valuable engine, utilized to drive the Maple Leafs’ offense.

This season, Marner has been nursing a shoulder injury that has limited him to a total of 26 games. Nylander has played nine more. When it comes to the rate of production, Marner is putting a point on the board every 0.81 games. Nylander is has greater than an point-per-game rate. His average is 1.03 per contest.

The per 60 metrics also favor the Swede. At even strength, Marner has a goal per 60 minutes rate of 0.7 this season and 1.2 assists per 60 minutes. Nylander is scoring more frequently with 1.2 goals per 60 minutes at even strength and 1.2 assists per 60 minutes.

This comparison should not diminish what Marner has done in the past. At times, he has been in the conversation as being one of the best players in the league. This year, however, Nylander has outplayed his teammate and deserves all the accolades he receives.

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While Nylander is having a great season, and has proven many Leafs fans wrong, Marner is stull obviously the superior player. Doesn’t matter though: the Leafs are still better when they have both wingers on the ice.