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Is There Anyone Left Who’d Trade Maple Leafs William Nylander?

Only seven months ago, there were ideas to trade the Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander. Is there anyone left who’d want that to happen?

About seven months ago, there was an outcry that the Maple Leafs should trade William Nylander. Although there were several constructed narratives that would suggest Nylander was beyond a liability for his team, the most egregious offense was that he didn’t exert the extra push needed to have negated an icing call during the playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nylander wouldn’t go to the dirty places on the ice. Nor would he put his body on the line by jumping into the path of a shot. And, make a hit – gosh no. Nylander wouldn’t go there – avoidance was better than bumping into anyone.

At least, that was the story.

William Nylander, Maple Leafs

But not negating icing! That offense became the focal storyline that grew into a chorus of “trade him” that started during this past offseason. Every perceived flaw Nylander might have was trotted out as one more reason that the organization should move him out of town.

Fans and writers alike jumped up into the wave. His flaws were highlighted; his mistakes were magnified; and, the reasons for losing him were organized. Nylander had to go.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 5-4 OT Win Over Flames

But the Maple Leafs Did Not Trade William Nylander

As it happened, the Maple Leafs’ organization wisely didn’t listen. The prevailing narratives were not their narratives. They didn’t blink, and Nylander came back for another season.

Given his success, I’m no longer hearing the trade Nylander rumblings. In fact, now, even the whispers are muted. Has the posse quit chasing him? Have his critics decided to lay off?

If so, good. The Maple Leafs’ brain trust (and now the fans) seem to know what they have in this sometimes enigmatic, but highly-skilled winger. He’s one of the top NHL players, and he has elite skills. Of course, he makes mistakes on the ice. Everyone does.

Flash Forward to Saturday Night Against the Flames

However, when Nylander has a game like the one he did Saturday night against the Calgary Flames, it’s hard to criticize any mistakes he might make.

On Saturday’s win over Calgary (the city in which he was born when his father Michael played for the Flames), Nylander set a new personal single-game, career-high point total. He had a point on every Maple Leafs’ goal.

And, because the team scored five goals, that gave him five points. Two points came from two goals; and, the other three points came from three assists. Of Nylander’s points, he scored a goal and added two assists on the power play.

His 17 goals tie him for seventh in the NHL this season with the Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby and the Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov.


Nylander Had a Hot Week, Which Was Not Ignored by the NHL

Nylander’s week prior to his single-game explosion was also solid. On Thursday, he scored a goal and added an assist in the team’s 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Nylander’s success is shared with his teammates. He’s now playing on the Maple Leafs’ first line with center Auston Matthews and the team’s resident pest Michael Bunting.

Others are noticing also Nylander’s play. On Sunday, the NHL named him the third star of the week. After his big game on Saturday, Nylander this season has collected 17 goals and added 16 assists (for 33 points) in 29 games. That puts him on a 42-goal and 93-point pace. Both would be new career highs for him.

William Nylander, Maple Leafs

Once his $6.9-million salary looked like a huge expense. Now it looks like a team-friendly bargain. It’s way too early to ask, but what kind of a contract will this success set him up for when he’s an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2024?

Nylander Is a Different Player This Season

To say that Nylander is a different player this season than he’s been before hints that fans who thought he should have played better might have a point. Perhaps. But few can argue that Nylander isn’t giving the team exactly what it needs in the present. This is his best season by far.

He does look like a different player than he’s looked in the past. He’s even more skilled than he was. He’s working on defense and his calm demeanor on the ice remains. But, he also seems to be having more fun.

It won’t take many more games like Saturday night for fans to begin to think he could hit the 50-goal mark.

That begs the question: Are there still some fans or hockey writers who’d trade William Nylander? Perhaps, but I’m not one of them.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Murray, Nylander, Marner & More



  1. gfinale

    December 12, 2022 at 3:42 am

    You were always one who would never trade Nylander. Yes, Nylander has been playing well and no complaints when he is. It’s obvious that he put in a huge effort over his time off spring to fall as did Tavares. Nylander’s long history says he will revert to lazy and disengaged within 3 to 9 months. You will typically then make excuses for him about bad luck and such until even the coach comes out in the media saying so AGAIN! Do you thibk Keefe would dare if it wasn’t obviously so?!

    For anyone who was so out of it, who lacked any intelligence, that icing was obvious and indisputable proof! It proved the millions of other times Nylander copped out. Nylander’s faults, beyond almost all other NHL players, have been obvious and pointed out by his COACHES including Keefe and Nylander himself. To suggest otherwise by saying perceived and that was the story anyway, is to either be disinengenuous or out of it.

    2 to 3 years ago, it was obvious that one of the core 4 needed to go in order to have a better balanced team that would do better. Matthews was a no way, Tavares couldn’t be so that left Nylander or Marner. This is the proper context for understanding the intelligent people’s thought in the past.

    Now, with Matthews coming up to 1 year left on contract and a NMC kicking in for that last year, it is a different story. Let Matthews go to NMC and either the Leafs will be held for ransom and pay through the nose to the detriment of the team or lose him for nothing. That’s right, like Dubas has done for almost everyone else!! The only ways to do the best for the team is either make an off the books contract agreement before the NMC kicks in or trade Matthews before it. This is all logic that cannot be debated so don’t bother. You can say “No, risk him leaving for nothing” but you can’t argue with that logic, it’s the reality. How did we get here? Dubas screwed up on Matthews’ negotiations and contract in the first place. He should have an 8 year contract, period.

    • gfinale

      December 12, 2022 at 10:22 am

      To tie that together, if they trade Matthews this year then they can get what’s needed and don’t need to trade Marner or Nylander.

    • Old Prof

      December 12, 2022 at 9:59 pm

      Thanks for spelling out another way of thinking so well – Jim

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