In his first media appearance of the off-season, William Nylander made it clear that he is forgetting last season and is ready to dominate with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It is rare to hear William Nylander speak to the media and the Toronto Maple Leafs winger made sure to make his latest comments newsworthy, well in a way that got everyone talking this past week.
The NHL is conducting their European media tour talking to players who back home overseas and in Sweden, Nylander was in a scrum with reporters talking about his tough season and his mindset going into this season.
"“Last year’s just gone,” Nylander told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “Out of the books, really, except for maybe taking some stuff that I learned. I look forward to dominating.“I’m confident in how I am as a player, so I’m not too worried about it.”"
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Obviously, Nylander knows his reputation with Leafs fans took a hit with his prolonged contract standoff and struggled in his return putting up seven goals, and 27 points in 54 games. Safe to say, expectations were not met as the 23-year-old could not pull himself together.
Now the slate is clean and the young Swede has been able to focus this summer on training rather than worrying about contract talks. He also made the decision to go from No. 29 to 88 and got some brownie points with fans as he offered to pay for fans to get their jerseys changed.
While Nylander’s off the ice reputation doesn’t appear to be an issue, you know some are curious to know what he’s going to bring this season considering the Leafs could use a breakout season from one of their top paid forwards.
In the prior comment to Johnston, Nylander said he was looking forward to dominating this season which is the type of mindset you want to hear and in a way he has shown he is ready for to do it as well.
When he joined Sweden at the IIHF World Championships you could see that the winger was more confident in his game to the point where he led the tournament in points with five goals, 18 points in eight games.
That should have made the Leafs front office happy especially Mike Babcock who said that getting away would be the best thing for his young winger and there’s no reason why he can’t come into this season and show off that confident play.
When you look at the possession stats Nylander put up last season it was his best to ate with a 56.8 CF% and 55.5 FF%, granted he started 58.5 per cent of his shifts in the offensive zone. This season, however, he should be given the biggest boost that any struggling winger could want. Getting back on a line with Auston Matthews.
So much of the past success for Nylander came because he was riding shotgun with Matthews rather than Nazem Kadri, Connor Brown or Patrick Marleau. His transitional play is something that shouldn’t be overlooked as he is capable of going end-to-end and force opposing players to chase him.
Something people want to see is a more committed effort to get the puck off opposing players or in the corners and that seems to be more of a mindset than ability. If we’re looking at sample sizes, Nylander’s two seasons before his rough 2018-19 campaign should be enough reason to think last season was a write-off.
What do you think about Nylander’s chances to have a bounce-back season? Will playing with Matthews be enough to get his game to a dominant level? Let us know in the comments below.