William Nylander is Better Than Ever
Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is sometimes a polarizing figure.
Blessed with unnatural speed and offensive talent, it sometimes looks as if he isn’t even trying. In past years, critical fans probably had a point, as Nylander often had games where the defensive effort just wasn’t there, and he simply looked disinterested.
Nylander also sat out the first two months of the season in 2018 due to a contract dispute. He eventually signed a 6 year deal worth just under $7M per season (per capfriendly.com).
That deal expires at the end of this season, and GM Brad Treliving was unsuccessful this past summer in trying to negotiate an extension with the Nylander camp.
Which brings us to the present. William Nylander is playing like a man possessed. He set a new team record for most games to start the season with a point (up to 10 games as of Nov 2). He has clearly been the Toronto Maple Leafs best player so far.
Nylander is not just scoring and setting up teammates. He’s backchecking, he’s picking up his man in the defensive zone, he’s battling for pucks along the boards.
He’s even thrown a body check or two.
Whether the “new” William Nylander is only a temporary being due to the fact that he’s playing for a new contract doesn’t really matter (at least for this season).
With fellow stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares all healthy and having good starts to the season, an upgraded Nylander gives the Leafs more firepower than they’ve ever had.
With the difference maker in the playoffs usually being the productivity of a team’s top players, Nylander’s emergence as a superstar bodes well for Toronto’s Stanley Cup hopes this season.