Last year, Nylander received a lot of attention. He was arguable to most dominant player in the AHL the first half of the year and he led the march of young Leafs prospects dipping their feet into NHL waters. At the time, the spotlight was on Nylander. He was the best prospect we had in recent memory and Maple Leafs fans had a reason to tune in and watch their team for the first time in a long time.
Move forward half a year.
Coming into the 2016/2017 season, a lot of the discussion was, rightfully so, on the 1st overall pick Auston Matthews. He was the Maple Leafs first number #1 draft pick since Wendel Clark, he was dominant in the World Cup of Hockey and represented a turning point in the decade of disappointing that preceded him. Following the Matthews headlines was the progress of Mitch Marner. His performance in training camp and in the first few games of the year quickly vaulted him to the top of Maple Leafs discussions, showing he was ready to stay with the team for good. All of a sudden, for some reason, Nylander was flying under the radar.
Well, Nylander has quickly managed to steal back some of the spotlight from his rookie counter parts. His performance early in the year has reminded all Maple Leafs fans that for a while, he was our most highly touted prospect. Early on at least, he seems determined to make that Calder trophy competition a Leafs affair.
Game 1 @ Ottawa (OTL 5-4)
Well, this was Auston Matthews show.
Game 3 @ Winnipeg (OTL 5-4)
Game 5 @ Chicago (OTL 5-4)
Game 8 @ Montreal (L 2-1)
This was one hell of a hockey game.
Besides Carey Price, William Nylander was the most noticeable player on the ice. He was in on most of the Leafs key scoring chances, including a breakaway where he stripped the puck from the defender. He set up the team’s only goal on the powerplay, where he has been dangerous on the right hand side all year.
1. His shot. Pretty obvious that he has an elite wrist shot. He has shown it off a few times on the powerplay and has the ability to score once he gets inside the top of the circle. It’s pretty lethal, especially with his vision to find the open player.
We only had to see his 1st NHL goal last year to realize he can bury when given the chance.
The fact is, William Nylander is transitioning from an elite prospect to an elite player. His abilities make him a joy to watch on a nightly basis and Leafs fans should not be surprised if he leads the charge of Maple Leafs rookies for the rest of the year.