William Nylander, despite the Toronto Maple Leafs bouncing him around the line-up, is quietly rounding into some form.
With all the plaudits reserved for Auston Matthews and to a lesser extent, Mitch Marner; William Nylander has quietly grabbed 4 goals and 4 assists in his last 5 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This is despite spending almost 20 minutes across the last 3 games with Pierre Engvall and David Kampf as his line mates, which is not exactly the hottest scoring combination.
Nylander, given defense-first line mates, on eye-test, is making a little more concerted effort to intercept and break up opposition plays.
Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander
It seems that the Toronto Maple Leafs made the right decision by shifting William Nylander from John Tavares’ line. Indeed, his production hasn’t suffered.
In fact, the Toronto Maple Leafs captain is also on a bit of a hot streak himself with 4 points in his last 3 games.
He certainly has seemed to be a player in the past that needs a little further impetus and a proverbial kick in the right direction to up his effort to match up to his impressive skill set.
Luckily for Leafs fans, it seems Sheldon Keefe has picked just the right time to hit the buttons of William Nylander, who despite all the negative commentary this season is still near point-per-game across the year.
What’s remarkable is that by all manner of statistical evidence, William Nylander isn’t actually playing a better 5-on-5 game on a line with David Kampf and Pierre Engvall, despite what we may have initially thought.
Per Natural Stat Trick, Engvall and Kampf’s individual Corsi For percentages are 47.77% and 47.33% respectively with Nylander. Without him, they are sitting at 50.80% and 56.04% respectively. It’s reasonable to suggest that he is dragging their scores down somewhat.
William Nylander himself has a better Corsi For percentage without either Engvall or Kampf at 53.84% and 53.97%.
This is just one specific statistic, but on balance the large majority of these two players statistics aren’t improved by having Nylander with them. Which makes it all the more remarkable that Nylander is finding his form.
Perhaps though, this isn’t where the Toronto Maple Leafs are getting the most out of William Nylander. After all, 5 of his 8 points in the past five games have been scored on the powerplay.
His shot count is also significantly up in recent games with the games against the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens seeing him put 6 and 7 shots on goal respectively. They represent his highest shots on goal in a game since early February.
Given the way he performed in the playoff series with the Canadiens last spring, it’s safe to say he knows how to show up big when it’s needed.
If Nylander can continue to carry this level of form through the final few games of the regular season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he stands himself in good stead to be bumped back up to the second line.
Certainly if Matthews and Marner are keeping teams busy in the playoffs, having an in-form Nylander backing them up really sets the Toronto Maple Leafs well.