WWYDW: What To Do With William?

William Nylander has looked pretty damn good in two preseason games so far. His skating is top notch, his creativity is excellent and most importantly he’s produced on the scoresheet. Sure, we’re pretty early in the process of cutting down the roster, but it certainly looks like Nylander will stick around until the end and either make the team or be one of its last cuts. So, which way should it go?

Personally, there’s pretty much no way I’d keep Nylander around. His offensive skills are top notch and he very well could produce in the NHL right away, but I think there’s still much for him to learn with the Toronto Marlies. It’s less about the points, and more about developing his game as a centre on small ice. If he can crack a point-per-game pace and play well on both sides of the puck after 40 or so games in the AHL, then I’m willing to reassess the situation. 

But until then, I’m not unnecessarily burning a year of his entry-level contract on a nothing season for the Leafs. Let him go back to the Marlies – hell, let him go back to the World Juniors too – and let him continue to develop his game. There are still things for Nylander to learn.

Would you keep Nylander around? What would it take for him to make the team? Let us know in the comments below… Most thumbs up gets a lock of William’s golden hair.

  • magesticRAGE

    Send him down to the marlies and let him improve his Centre role in the AHL. Along aide some skilled pro players, develop chemistry, and bring up the kids as a young skill unit next year!

  • magesticRAGE

    Send him to the AHL. It doesn’t matter if he dominates offensively, he can learn the defensive game at center. Management has to be cutthroat about this, because there is no need to burn a year of his entry level contract. This time next year, they will have cleared out some contracts, and they can bring him up and ease him in on the second or third line, maybe at the same time they bring up Marner, Brown, or Leipsic.

  • jasken

    The Toronto Maple Leafs want William Nylander to play Center in the NHL. To do that he should be sent down to play in the AHL. Mike Babcock and Sheldon Keefe will run the same system. Nylander can learn that system while improving his defensive play and dominating offensively comfortably in the AHL. Nylander projects to be a Top 6 Forward. The only way he makes the team is if he breaks the Top 6 Forwards on the Leafs. That means he has to take a spot away from either Tyler Bozak or Nazem Kadri. I do believe he will do that at some point this season. Probably around the trade deadline after the Leafs move a couple on pending UFA’s for Draft Picks and there is roster space. Then I definitely see players like William Nylander, Connor Brown, Kasperi Kapanen and Nikita Soshnikov getting called up.

  • silentbob

    This shouldn’t even be a question.

    He is a 19 year old KID. He is nowhere near a “finished product” and has plenty left to learn in the AHL

    A few years ago when the Red WIngs called Nyquist up and he looked like an NHL player right out of the gate many people were amazed, , wondered where the kid came from, and marveled at the Red Wing development system that could produce such an NHL ready prospect. Well he was as ready as he was for the NHL because he was 23 years old, had played over 135 pro games in the AHL. He didn’t have to come to the NHL and learn how to play with the team or how to be a pro, and he excelled right out of the gate. Why WOULDN’T we want the same for Nylander or Marner or Kapanen or Brown or Percy etc…?

    Here is part of an article on the Red Wings and how they have remained successful for so long, talking about how they deal with prospects – “No 18-year-old first-round draft picks step right on to the Red Wings roster…….The farm team gets the best coaches and mentoring is a key part of the process, beginning with the NHL veterans and extending to the front office, which is stocked with former players such as Chris Chelios, Jiri Fischer and Kris Draper who pass on their experience to the kids in Grand Rapids……..(Kronwall) “You get to play in Grand Rapids, which is a great city, and you get put into a system where you learn how we play the game. You are put in all kinds of situations there, whether it’s the power play, penalty killing, five-on-five, late in games, whether you’re up a goal or down a goal, you play in key situations. That really prepares you for when you get here.”…….At the same time, the system requires great patience from the prospects. It is made clear to players such as defenceman Jakub Kindl, who was a first-round pick in 2005, that it will be years before they can expect a full-time job in Detroit. He had to spend four years in Grand Rapids, waiting for a vacancy, before landing a job this season at the age of 26.

    “It was tough but at the same time I tried to stay patient,” Kindl said. “Basically, it was what I knew was going to happen and then it was the best thing that could happen for me.”

    • Gary Empey

      Re–“Nyquist was as ready as he was for the NHL because he was 23 years old, had played over 135 pro games in the AHL.

      Why WOULDN’T we want the same for Nylander or Marner or Kapanen or Brown or Percy etc”

      Because you will lose them to the KHL or MODO, trade demand, etc. Why would they play for cheap in the minors if they can make much more money playing elsewhere.

      If a player is good enough to play in the NHL that is he should be.

        • Gary Empey

          Maple Leaf forward leaves team, becomes KHL’s leading scorer.
          Sept. 24 2015


          As trade deadline nears, hearing rumblings Ottawa prospect Shane Prince is considering serious offer from KHL if not traded. #Sens

          — Russ Bitely (@russbites) February 24, 2014

          Alexander Khokhlachev wants to be a Boston Bruin, unhappy with Providence

          Another year, another prospect unhappy being blocked by the Bruins center depth.

          The 22 year old Russian center feels that he hasn’t been given a fair shot at the NHL.

          “I wait for my chance already 2 years, so I’m still waiting. They should make decision, give me the chance, or I don’t know.”

          “I played in Providence two years and I led them in scoring two years. I think I’€™m playing good.”

          This is his last year on his entry level contract, and while he has no other NHL options barring a trade, his KHL rights were acquired at the beginning of August, giving him another option. The Bruins would retain his rights since he would still be a RFA as long as they qualified him.

  • silentbob

    I’d keep him up for a 9 game try out. Regardless of how well/ poorly he plays, that 9 games should be a fixed number.

    Best case scenario: willie produces at a respectable clip and builds his confidence, returns to the AHL and absolutely dominates. He will also benefit from an extra month of tutelage from Babcock regarding exactly how he wants him to play the game.

    There’s only so much that Babs can learn about the kid from a handful of preseason games and he may pick up on a few more subtleties that could then be tweaked. This way when Nylander is sent back to the AHL he has more to work on and the season may become more of a challenge, thus maximizing his development.

    It is very important not to surpass the 9 games because I have a sneaking suspicion that nylanders going to be getting a decent raise after his ELC expires. Furthermore, giving him a tryout at the beginning of the season could reduce the temptation to bring him up after the trade deadline and pull him away from the marlies home stretch.

    The only scenario where i believe it would be appropriate to burn a year of ELC would be this: The leafs are in the playoff race around trade deadline and Lou decides he still wants to have a yard sale for futures. Then Nylander would have the chance to come into the NHL and play a top 6 role in a competitive environment. He will also have had 3/4 of a season to improve his game according to babcocks specifications. And who knows, perhaps some of the futures acquired at the deadline will be young AHLers that could benefit from an open spot in the marlies top 6.

    • silentbob

      I used to be a fan the 9 game thing, but after Dubas’s comments about how going up and down affected Percy last year, I wouldn’t even play that game with Nylander.

      With the Marlies playing 15 minutes down the road, Babcock can always go see him play and/or practice if they want his input in Nylanders development.

  • silentbob

    The little long-term-thinking-angel on one of my shoulders says, keep him in the AHL to push his ECL back and give him big minutes, but then the little immediate-excitement-devil says, I wanna see Nylander! This year!

  • jasken

    Every player is different I personally dont know what Nylander is ready for emotionally. I know he was born and bred to play it’s his life and everything in the hockey world the media, the criticism, the pains of it he has lived with all his life. He know more about life with the NHL than anyone here commenting.

    It’s not about contracts or his age but his ability and how he deals with adversity these are most important things he will have to deal with. Does his ability to play top 6 every night. Can he go 10-15 games no points and still not doubt himself. Based on his demeanour I think he is NHL ready but if they send him down to AHL there is a reason. I will only hope he takes it and learns from it and makes himself ready for next year.

  • jasken

    leave him in the ahl and let him dominate at the centre position with the marlies. hopefully they have a long playoff run and recall him when all of those 1 year vets/core members are shipped off to other teams at the deadline.

  • jasken

    The Leafs aren’t poised to win big this year and there will probably be miserable stretches. I don’t see why Nylander should be put through that, especially if he can build confidence and skill in the AHL. And even if he is good enough to make the Leafs better, is that the most desirable option for a team that will finish bottom 5? Playing him and finishing bottom 10 instead isn’t exactly an upgrade, especially as far as draft picks are concerned.

  • jasken

    I completely agree that we should be developing our players for as long as possible in the minors, but Nylander has been so impressive recently that if he’s good enough, keep him up. We can’t get stuck in this narrative that everyone has stay in the AHL for a couple years before they play in the NHL. The kid is clearly capable of making things happen so I don’t see the problem of putting him in the NHL. You’re not ‘rushing’ him, you’re just ‘pushing’ him a little to get a better result in the long run.

  • Gary Empey

    The AHL game is slower. A lot of players develop some very bad habits playing at that level. Then they have a major problem adjusting to the NHL. When a player is ready for the NHL he needs to be playing and developing at that tempo, playing beside other NHL players. He needs to learn how to play against the rest of the 29 NHL teams goalies included. Keeping an NHL ready player trapped in the minors can backfire on the team. They start to look at their other options. Recently I read an artlce on a young Russian player who lead his AHL team in scoring. He stated he didn’t come over here to play in the AHL. Who needs this sort of bad blood.

    From what I have seen so far, Nylander has shown he is ready to take the next step. Babcock of course may not think so.

    Edit–As an example. Watch that give and go with Gardiner, If Nylander attemts that play at the AHL level there is likely at different result.

  • Corno4

    Keep him down for now. If Nylander is utterly destroying the AHL AND the Leafs somehow manage to be within the window of playoff bound teams (the east isn’t looking great beyond some top threats), then maybe bring him up in the latter third of the season. But only if both of those things are the case which I highly doubt.