The Leafs Should Send Nylander Back to Junior #MyColumn


The last week or so has been the funnest to be a Leafs fan in a really long time. As expected, Lou and co. sent out a bunch of vets at the trade deadline, and promptly filled the lineup with the future – young kids who will be fixtures on this team for a long time. 

Nikita Soshnikov and Zach Hyman have made the biggest impressions – they’re good skaters, hard on the puck, and have skill too. The energy they bring – especially Soshnikov – is infectious, and it has been noticeable among the entire team. Connor Carrick, the young d-man the Leafs stole in the Brooks Laich salary dump trade, has also been impressive. While slightly undersized, he is tenacious, smart with the puck, and is rarely caught out of position. And despite being one of the first sent down, Kasperi Kapanen made a strong case to be on the team next year with his blazing speed, relentless puck pursuit, and skill. 

Then, there’s William Nylander, the “crown jewel” of the Leafs’s prospect pool. He has been by far the biggest bust out of all the kids. What’s worse is that he had the most amount of hype. He’s supposed to be skilled, creative, and intelligent. None of this has been on display. Sure, he scored a solid goal against Ottawa, but I’m pretty sure I could score on Andrew Hammond if I was given that much time and space. 

As more games go by, it becomes more obvious that the Leafs need to send the Canadian-born Nylander back to junior. They should send him to Mississauga so he can play alongside his brother. He needs to go to an environment that will help him strengthen his skill set and push his development forward. It’s clearly not happening at the NHL level. 

It’s very evident that Nylander isn’t strong enough to play in the NHL, which is a problem that someone like Nick Ritchie doesn’t have. You may recall Nick Ritchie as the player the Leafs should have taken 8th overall in the 2014 draft, but ended up falling to Anaheim. A big reason Ritchie is already so impressive in the NHL is because of his size, which he gained while playing junior hockey. The terrible arena food really helps you put on mass. Ritchie has already played 22 games in the NHL and notched one point, which shows that the Anaheim Ducks agree with me that size and strength is most important for a young player’s game translating to the NHL level.

I have seen Nylander play 5 games at the NHL level. And it is clear after 5 games that he is simply not ready. 5 games is enough time to make that judgment. It’s also an important amount of time – the Leafs need to make a decision at the 9 game mark if they want to keep him in the NHL or not. Plus, as the famous Wayne Gretzky quote goes: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and 5 games is an adequate sample size.” 

Honestly, I don’t know what’s taking so long. They could have sent him down after his 2nd or 3rd game. I saw those games and said “this guy isn’t ready”. What’s taking Leafs management so long to figure this out?

The Leafs better be careful with how they handle Nylander. Remember how they handled Luke Schenn? Nazem Kadri? Look how they turned out. 

All I hope is that the Leafs have a plan for Nylander, and are now using plan b or c – whichever plan involves sending William to junior. And it should preferably be to Mississauga to play with his brother Alex, who the Leafs should draft this year. 

  • mlpnj5

    You might be right but far too early to be making these sorts of judgements (a “bust”? You’re joking, right). Also, bear in mind (as per other press reports) that they wanted to ease him in on the wing but that hasn’t been possible. Perhaps you should consider a trip to the land of understatement, just for the change of scenery.

  • mlpnj5

    I can’t believe you are allowed to be a contributor on this site. You seem so ignorant on many points.

    Nylander has never been in the juniors, why would they send him “back” there? He was leading the AHL in scoring, what does he have to learn by playing against 16 year olds?

    Do you expect a prospect to dominate the NHL right away? There is an adjustment period. It may as well be in this lost year.

    You make all kinds of accusations without any evidence to back it up. This is a solid site with solid content. You have no place contributing to it.

  • mlpnj5

    This has to be the worst piece of writing/analyzing I have ever read! You might want to check your facts before forming an opinion. Nylander can only be sent back to the marlies (where he dominated by the way, not junior). I love your point about Ritchie (one point in 22 games). How many points/goals does Nylander have in far less games (go take a look). Yes, grant it, he might not be physically ready to play centre in the NHL right now but he will in time. His skill is far beyond what Ritchie will ever have. I trust this management team more than the one in the past, and definitely over you!

  • Metal thrashin dad

    I couldn’t agree more bobby, but you forgot to mention that nylander is a swede, so he’s obviously soft as butter. I’d like to see the leafs draft guys with more heart, good Canadian kids like tie domi. #mycolumn

  • SEER

    I stopped reading after…. …”He has been by far the biggest bust out of all the kids. What’s worse is that he had the most amount of hype. He’s supposed to be skilled, creative, and intelligent. None of this has been on display.”…

    Are you using a starw with your Cappucino, Bobby..? Is it in your mouth, or up your nose..? LOL! : )

    You have to be joking..


    On another note, it appears we have only seen the low end of our two recent “Smith” trade acquistiions, up with the big club…

    Check this kid out..! It will add another smile to our future..

    I watched Colin play, with the Monsters and Rampage, but didn’t see his earlier seasons, in Kamloops…, but I was really impressed with a lot of these highlights, too… so I extended this first montage of him, to give everyone else a good look at him…

    I think he could possibly be another dark horse for the Leafs…. and/or Marlies.. Another nice point to mention, is that his stats also rose immediately.., after being traded here..

    Colin Smith/ Center/ shoots R/ Born Jun 20 1993/ Edmonton, ALTA./
    22 yrs. ago/ Height 5.10/ Weight 178

    RECENT STATS: (*Up to March 9th 2016)

    2014-15 Lake Erie Monsters – AHL
    53 Games… 12 Goals… 19 Assists… 31 Points… -7
    2015-16 – San Antonio Rampage – AHL
    54 Games… 13 Goals… 21 Assists… 34 Points… -4
    2015-16 Toronto Marlies – AHL
    7 Games… 3 Goals… 4 Assists… 7 Points… +2 *PPG

    Dark Horse Star: Colin Smith Extended 2012-16 Highlights – TML


  • Harte of a Lion

    This is good stuff:

    “A big reason Ritchie is already so impressive in the NHL is because of his size, which he gained while playing junior hockey. The terrible arena food really helps you put on mass.”

  • Gary Empey

    At the beginning of the season you thought Nylander and Clune should make the starting lineup. This may be the answer.

    Bring Clune back up and put him on the line with Nylander.

  • magesticRAGE

    The only thing I can agree on, besides poking the hornet’s nest, I’d that the other two kids have had a bigger impact. When you look at Willie’s recent history, every time he changes leagues, it takes him a short while to figure it out, then takes off. It happened in Sweden, then with Modo, then the AHL, now the NHL. When he figures it out, he’ll be an impact player, more so than Ritchie.

  • magesticRAGE

    May as well swing the kid now while he’s still got value. I don’t think the skills are gonna transfer to NHL level.

    We could do a lot worse than trading for Ryan Murray. Good Canadian kid from SK; second overall pick; and best of all a D-man. And we all know how much the Leafs definitely lack in defense right now.

    I hope the Marlies don’t suffer too much once Gauthier is called up. He’s the X-factor of a playoff team that the Leafs have been lacking for so long.

  • CMpuck

    What is this warning about how they should deal with Nylander by pointing to Schenn and Kadri? This is a different organization, they may be wearing the same jersey but the way they do business is totally different. The calls for trading him or choosing an other player is nonsense. This “kid”(19) is so advanced in his skill that the NHL is where he needs to learn. It may take some time but to put him back in the AHl or junior as some have suggested would only spoil him. He needs to be schooled a few times by the NHL work ethic, but he will get it and he will be a real gem. This management team will see to that.