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In Praise of Maple Leafs’ William Nylander

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a number of good players on its roster. Why is William Nylander one of the best forwards on the team?

One thing that has happened, despite the Toronto Maple Leafs’ loss in Round 2 of the postseason series, is that William Nylander’s value to the team seems to have increased. His play shone despite the team’s early playoff exit.

Now There’s Talk About Trading Nylander

However, that same strong Nylander performance seems to have added significant value to his trade possibility. If people didn’t recognize it before, his strong offensive contributions, including a 40-goal season and 87 points, have proven his scoring ability and offensive impact.

However, there’s a negative side to this success for Maple Leafs’ fans. Nylander is now even more appealing to potential trade partners. And, if the Maple Leafs run into a really strong salary-cap crunch, there’s a question if that increases the likelihood of the organization might trade him. It’s likely that they would even get back good value in return.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Hildeby, Woll, Nylander & Matthews

Time to Realize How Good a Player William Nylander Really Is

During the postseason, as during the regular season, Nylander played well. He is what he is. He can get scalding hot, but turn ice cold for a few games. Who knows why?

That said, his commitment and determination once again were showcased. Some fans will never like him, pointing to what seemed like a lacklustre attempt to chase down a puck to prevent an icing call during the 2021-22 postseason. However, for most fans, Nylander has grown on them.

William Nylander, Maple Leafs

Now the word is that he’s going to represent Team Sweden in the World Cup. That should be great fun for him. He’ll likely get to suit up with his brother Alex (who’s trying to make it in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization) as well as Rasmus Sandin (who’s now with the Washington Capitals). It seemed to me that I read that Sandin was one of Nylander’s best friends when he was on the Maple Leafs.

Specific Reasons to Appreciate Nylander

In this blog post, I want to take some time to write the kind of post I really like to write. That is one of appreciation for specific Maple Leafs’ players. So, here I will highlight a number of the specific reasons why Nylander deserves recognition and fan support. From what I can see, he’s a resilient young player who really loves to play the game of hockey.

Related: Insider Says Ryan O’Reilly Won’t Re-sign with Maple Leafs

Reason to Appreciate Nylander Number 1: He Steps Up During the Postseason

Nylander’s performance during the playoffs was impressive, but that’s been true during most of the team’s postseason trips. He was especially productive and active during the series against the Florida Panthers.

Nylander consistently showcased his offensive abilities, pushing the play by contributing points and scoring key goals. His consistent point-per-game production against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 1 further demonstrated his value to the team.

Reason to Appreciate Nylander Number 2: He Silenced Doubters

Throughout his career, Nylander has faced criticism regarding his commitment and drive. He continues to do so. However, for me, his on-ice performance is consistently improving. This has led to systematically debunking critics for their unfounded finger-pointing – not that he probably cares.

William Nylander, Maple Leafs

Nylander’s reputation among his teammates is that he’s the first to get to practice and the last to leave. He’s always working to improve his game. Such dedication to the game is evident in this relentless pursuit of improvement. He simply continues working to elevate his game.

Reason to Appreciate Nylander Number 3: He Loves to Play the Game

Nylander’s passion for playing hockey is undeniable. That includes internationally in addition to playing in Toronto. He didn’t wait long to head to Sweden to join the Swedish national team for a chance to compete in the World Cup.

He simply seems to love to play the sport.

Reason to Appreciate Nylander Number 4: He Improves Every Year

Nylander has grown significantly throughout his career. He’s consistently worked on his skills, which has been obvious in tracking his improvements on the score sheet every year.

Such a commitment to his own growth as a player speaks a ton about his desire to contribute to his team’s success.

Reason to Appreciate Nylander Number 5: He Is Motivated Toward the Future

Although Nylander might seem a bit like he doesn’t care, I think critique pushes Nylander to get tough on the inside. You can see how his head coach Sheldon Keefe sometimes seems to pull his string by challenging him. Nylander responds.

I believe he will use his season’s too-early exit to push him even harder to become better. Again, although he doesn’t show much publicly, he seems to play the game with a chip on his shoulder that he pushes himself to elevate his game.

The Bottom Line

Nylander’s love for the game of hockey has been evident throughout his career, even though he’s faced a number of playoff disappointments. Still, his strong performances, dedication to continuous improvement, and determination to succeed are valued by and on the Maple Leafs. Now let’s hope that he’s with the team next season.

Related: 3 Things Maple Leafs Sheldon Keefe Did Well, 3 Things He Didn’t



  1. Chris R

    May 16, 2023 at 10:55 pm

    I’ve never understood all the negativity around Nylander. He’s a great player, hard worker, and marches a bit to the beat of his own drum. What’s not to like?

    • bdjbent

      May 17, 2023 at 4:23 am

      Good article OP, the most I like with William. He wants to improve his game, he have done just that. Ever sense he signed his contract, he said on locker cleaning. “I think I have another level, lets se what i can do next year”. I don’t doubt that, he have more. Hope he does well this year in WC, so he can end the season in a positiv mod. That will motivate William, to work even harder next season.

  2. Steve in Toronto

    May 17, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Sorry guys, but I remain firmly in the other camp. There are a plethora of reasons why Nylander has been and continues to be bad for the Maple Leafs merely by his presence. He and Rielly have led the way to a clubhouse culture of acceptance of onesided offensive effort and that cancer appears to have taken over the room. If the Leafs truly hope to win cups and be perrenially competitive, they must deal with this first, while they still can.

    Nylander is at his highest asset value right now. We need a passing/playmaking winger for our top centres, one or two heavy skill guys, a bona-fide right shot defensemen and someone to solidy our goaltending. Any trade that would fill one or more of those gaping holes would bring long term benefits to our group. If we can also change the culture to one of complete team effort, we would stand a much better chance of achieveing our goals.

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