Toronto Maple Leafs: Can We Appreciate How Great William Nylander is?

William Nylander is leading the Toronto Maple Leafs in points and goals.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs signed William Nylander to a six-year deal worth $6.9M per year, some of the fanbase was angry, and the media was relentless in trying to convert those who weren’t.

That contract is worth every penny right now.

I don’t think the fans were mad because Nylander was staying with the club, but they were upset with the process. The contract negotiations dragged on until December and it ultimately resulted in Nylander having a terrible season, scoring only seven goals in 54 games.

The advanced stats that season said Nylander was just getting unlucky.  Time has proved that to have been the case.

However, since that abysmal campaign, Nylander has done everything you’ve hoped in terms of production. He’s still someone to get easily frustrated with, but his point-totals have been stellar.

In his last four seasons, he has 104 goals and 226 points in 238 games played.

That’s a 36 goal and 78 point pace for a player who many thought was overpaid just a few seasons ago.

William Nylander Leads Toronto Maple Leafs

Nylander set career highs last year with 34 goals and 80 points, but he’s set to blow past those marks this season.

In 38 games, Nylander has 22 goals and 45 points, which would put him at a 47 goal and 97 point pace.

It seems unlikely that he’ll hit his projections based on his previous seasons, but why can’t he keep it up? Nylander is typically used to playing with John Tavares for the majority of the season, but Sheldon Keefe’s line-juggling has Nylander playing with his old buddy Auston Matthews every night and that dynamic duo doesn’t looking like they’re slowing down anytime soon.

Matthews creates so much space on the ice as defenders are scared of his shot. As a result, it makes him an underrated playmaker and Nylander has taken full-advantage of that.

In the next few months, I know that there’s going to be a play where Nylander gets scared and is afraid to go into the corners, but at this point in his career, we need to embrace that that’s the type of player he is. Some guys love the contact and others don’t, and that’s okay.

He doesn’t need to impact the game with a hit, but instead can change the result by using his incredible skillset to create offense.

Nylander is an easy player to root against, but we all need to appreciate how good he is right now. The fact that he leads the team in goals and points halfway through the season is an incredible accomplishment.