Toronto Maple Leafs – William Nylander (C/RW) Sep 24, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (62) takes a shot during the pre game warm up against the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
18 years old – 5’11” – 180 pounds
Drafted: Round 1, 8th overall, 2014
Everybody knows all about William Nylander. He just came off of 10 points in seven games at the world juniors, where he looked like one of the best forwards in the tournament. His skating, hockey sense, puck handling and vision are all NHL-ready and Nylander will be playing for the Leafs next year.
His defensive game is still a work in progress, but that’s normal for a player of his age. He can sometimes be viewed as a selfish player who holds onto the puck too long, but that also tends to stick with players of his age, especially if they have weaker line-mates.
His time playing in the Swedish Elite League has served him well as he has 19 points in 19 games, which is good enough for second on the team (he’s three points behind first, who has played 15 more games). Like the Swedish junior team, all the offense runs through Nylander on MODO, where he organizes the powerplay. He’s a hard working player who can draw penalties and doesn’t take many (he has 4 PIMs in his 19 games).
Leaf fans can expect Nylander to contribute with a full rookie season next year. The Swedish Elite League wraps up before the NHL, and MODO is in last place, so it’s possible you might see Nylander late this year, but more likely the Leafs will assign him to the Toronto Marlies to get more games under his belt, specifically if Toronto are pushing for a playoff spot or a better draft pick.
Nylander has played the majority of this year as a centre, but has also played wing in the past. If Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Peter Holland are the top three centres next year, expect Nylander to take a spot on the wing – otherwise, he’ll likely fold in as the third centre.